It’s essential to consider your company’s unique needs before you jump into the writing process. Well-written content that evokes a feeling in customers will turn them from shoppers to advocates. Once you’ve set the focus for your content, you’ll need to develop a reference that will communicate that vision. While this appears to be an easy feat, you should be prepared for potential errors and growing pains as you figure out the right consistency for marketing your brand through writing.
Below are a couple of highly recommended components to include in your style guide.
Envision your guide as a reference that is easily accessible and organized by terms and major concepts or expectations. That way, when one of your content writers is not sure about a task, they can turn to a recognizable component and take accountability to review your requirements. One of the most successful approaches is to create a list. Below are a few suggested sections to include in your content style guide.
- checklist of key guidelines — a “quick look-up”
- company vocabulary for branding
- citation and grammar guidelines
- common misspellings and misuses of words
When developing a content style guide, always ask the question, “What defines your content?” The goal here is to build a solid foundation around what makes your company unique. Consider your brand’s most interesting qualities and provide examples. To keep up with the organizing aspect of a style guide, generate a “what to do/what not to do” chart that provides specific examples to help writers develop a succinct company voice.
While formatting possibilities are endless, writing a branding style guide should present a sort of rule book to follow in order to keep the written content accessible for readers. Even some of the smallest, minute details like grammar can impact the voice of a blog.
Remember that grammar and formatting is the choice of the company, so it should be referenced in detail. However, don’t become so nitty-gritty about the particulars; hone in on a few of the key formatting and grammar expectations that your company wishes to address. When in doubt, this is a great source to refer to if there are discrepancies with grammar.
Provide an overview of your SEO strategy so that writers are able to understand keywords and best practices when generating content. While detail is important here, you don’t want to be so overly technical that it pushes writers away.
Always make sure that the style of writing matches your company’s vision. For example, if your company prefers informal and accurate facts and information, your stylistic choices and formatting should reflect the content. Your style guide will be the perfect go-to resource to use to keep the voice of the copy consistent.
Make sure to stress the legal aspect of your the content created. For example, if a guest blogger is publishing the same content on a number of other sites, your site could be flagged for duplicate content and de-indexed from Google. If you need help establishing the legal jargon of this portion of the style guide, there are a number of people who specialize in these topics, and I’d recommend calling them.