Uniform branding doesn’t have to be drab or boring. It just needs to dependably convey your message. That message may be “wild, spontaneous, and exciting,” but it must be consistent if you want your customers to recognize you, relate to you, and most importantly, trust you.
The best way for a company to create consistency is by using a style guide for all content. Not sure what a style guide is or why it’s vital to the success of your business? We’ll explain everything you need to know about why and how to create your company’s style guide. Thank us later.
Style Guide, What Have You Done for Me Lately?
It’s simple. Familiarity makes us comfortable. When your brand is consistent, consumers know what to expect. When your signature is recognizable and distinctive, people naturally connect with your brand.
Accomplishing this can feel like mission impossible when you have different people creating content at your company. With different writing tools, various interfaces, and several writers on staff, it’s challenging to capture a singular voice.
A company style guide unifies your brand’s copy so customers can recognize your brand’s tone and image. It makes your brand relatable and helps your audience feel comfortable with every interaction.
Style Guide Defined
What exactly is a style guide? It’s a set of guidelines that establishes a tone or style for your content. It ensures consistency at every turn. Every blog post, tweet, Facebook update, whitepaper, or anything else published under your company’s name conveys the same overall message about your brand. A style guide sets the impression you want to make on your audience and verifies that it is carried out by anyone who creates content for you.
Style Guide 101: Creating a Style Guide that Gets it Just Right
Ready to create your style guide but not sure where to begin? Here are a few pointers to help you customize your company’s style guide to fit your business like a glove:
Nail your branding
Every company has a story. Maybe you’re a dog owner who was tired of feeding your pet artificial, mass-produced food so you launched a line of natural pet food. Maybe you’re a thrill-seeking sky diver turned entrepreneur who found a cure for inefficient API implementation. Whoever you are, your backstory is what makes your brand unique and relatable. Figure out where you’re coming from because that will set the framework for your style guide. When you know who you are, what your story is, and what message you want to convey, you can set the guidelines for your content.
Set the tone
Once you’ve figured out your branding and message, you can determine your brand’s style and direction. This allows you to convey your message clearly. Is your brand fun and lighthearted or more serious? Do you cater to adults or children? Are you trying to reach an upscale, high-end clientele, or offer regular people a quick and easy solution to a problem? Decide on your tone and the other elements of your style guide will fall naturally into place.
Understand what’s involved
Your style guide should clearly outline the rules of how you want your content to look, sound, and feel. Be sure to express your company’s voice clearly and define the style you’re trying to create. Here are a few points to consider:
- Do you want to use an active or passive voice? First, second, or third person?
- Should the tone be casual or formal?
- Will writers need to adhere to strictly conventional grammatical structures, or is a regional, familiar tone more appropriate?
- Are there keywords, phrases, or terms to use? Are there others to avoid?
- Should the text be analytical, positive, or generic?
- Are there phrases to include so you appeal to a specific demographic?
Address details like when to capitalize words and titles, what type of formatting to use for headers, lists, and other structural elements, how and when to use symbols, trademarks, and more. Don’t forget to pay attention to grammar, spelling, and punctuation preferences! Some companies use the Oxford comma, while others leave it out. Whatever you go with, keep it constant. It matters less which preferences you choose. What’s crucial is that your writers are consistent in sticking to your style guide.
There are standard style guides like the Chicago Manual of Style or the Associated Press Stylebook that can give you some direction. We strongly encourage you to personalize those rule books for your company by zeroing in on your unique branding.
Use a style guide tool
Worried about inconsistencies and discrepancies in your writing? You may need to pull out the big guns and use modern-day tools to get the job done. Technology can help smooth out any ruffled feathers in your content. We’re talking about grammar checkers online. Tools like Grammarly and ProWritingAid include style guide checkers built into their programs. Specify the type of style guide you want, including rules, caveats, and language nuances. Then, put your content generation team to work. Afterward, the software will scan your copy for elements that may be out of sync with your company’s unique style guide and tone.
Consider visual elements
Besides keeping your writing style consistent, you need to ensure continuity of your branding across all fronts. This includes various visual elements on your site. Consider which fonts, colors, images, and logo design will best help you tell your story. Once again, keep things consistent to establish trust and reliability with your customers. Web elements like page layout, button placement, and hierarchical flow are additional details to consider. Think about which social media formats will work best with your brand’s style.
Creating a Style Guide Lets Your Voice Shine Through
Mixed messages can be the death knell of a brand. Consumers immediately pick up on inconsistency, and they won’t stand for it. Simply put, you can’t afford to skip creating a style guide! Implementing the guide ensures continuity for your brand’s image across all channels. If you want some help along the way, use a grammar app with convenient templates you can customize to fit your brand. The effort and investment will more than pay off.