If you’re looking for a way to scale your content production consistently, then a style guide is precisely what you need.
If you’re constantly faced with uptight and hard to read blogs submitted by subject matter experts, or interesting graphics from your intern who decided to put her own creative spin on infographics you send her, then you should know your brand is lacking a style guide.
With a style guide, you’ll never be stuck on debating how to cite your sources again or whether you should add Oxford commas to drafts submitted by freelancers.
While it takes some time, creating a style guide is 100% worth it. Many brands overlook this crucial step, but paying attention to it will help you get more eyes on your content. Studies have shown that presenting your brand in a consistent style can lead to a 33% increase in revenue.
Whether your brand is new or already in business, you can create a style guide and start implementing it immediately.
A style guide is about more than colors and logos. If you want to know how to convey the character and image of your brand through your content, read through the information presented below.
What is a Content Style Guide?
Simply put, a content style guide breaks down the dos and don’ts of developing content created for your brand. Whether you use a PDF, webpage, or slide deck, you can detail your content strategy to explain the what, when, and how of your content creation.
With a style guide, your content creators will have a specific direction to follow to keep your brand consistent. A style guide can set up simple rules for practical writing matters:
- What is the tone of your brand?
- How should headers capitalize?
- Is it whitepaper or white paper?
While it’s easy for a visual style guide to overshadow a style guide, you should remember to put focus on all aspects of your content guide.
Why is a Content Style Guide Important?
Since everyone creates content nowadays, it’s essential to keep your content creators on the same page. A key to successful content is having a rulebook to ensure that your content isn’t all over the place.
While you can verbally convey the message, it’ll be hard to enforce a style if it isn’t documented. Planning, creating, and distributing content takes time, and having a style guide on hand will guard your brand against time-wasting.
Easy Steps for Creating a Killer Style Guide
Creating a style guide can be easy. Below we share some tips to help you.
Seek First, Create Later
No one said you had to create your style guide from scratch. Looking at popular styles can help you filter out what you like and don’t. Keep the good and swipe the bad away.
Define Your Mission
When adding the details to your style guide, look at your marketing goals and work backward from there. Focusing on the reason why you create content will help you keep your content honest.
Take time to focus on this aspect. Whether your purpose is to enlighten, entertain, or explain, document what you want your content to be in detail.
Determine Your Voice
Every brand has a voice, and this section of your style guide should be followed to a tee. It determines how your audience experiences your content, making it vital to ensure that it lines up with your brand’s image.
Have Basic Groundrules
If you’ve ever wanted to put your foot down, here’s your chance. Set up basic writing rules for common vocabulary expressions that your guide can back up at all times. Make sure to give examples of each to clarify any confusion.
Adress Different Content Styles
Since you need to create different content to expand your reach, ensure that each has its own document style guide.
Set up Rules for Graphics
Although your visual style guide should explain the use of visual elements in detail, having some guidance for this in your style guide is recommended. When writers also have a basic understanding of how visuals should be presented, there’s less chance for mishaps.
Include basic information on visuals like how they should be aligned and specific ones that should be avoided.
Examples of Different Style Guides
There are many style guide examples to pull structuring ideas from. Take some inspiration from the below guides if you’re feeling stuck.
Mailchimp avoids the use of offensive faux-pas. They outline their style for talking about gender, sexuality, ethnicity, and disabilities in their style guide.
While respectfully addressing this may seem logical to you, many content creators slip in these areas. Including a section like this in your style guide will keep creators aware of the rules and the right path to follow.
Atlassian uses an easy-to-navigate table of contents to make their style guide easy to follow no matter who the user is.
Mozilla’s Guide for Firefox
Mozilla uses parenthetical explanations to ensure that all content creators are on the same page and there’s no room for confusion.
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Using questions like the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill does is an excellent way to ensure that content writers align their content with the brand’s mission.
Before you rush into building your guide, remember to keep the following in mind:
- Ensure that content creators can easily access your style guide, whether it’s on the web or a shared PDF with restricted access.
- Ensure that your style guide is easily readable.
- Refer back to your documented style guide when giving content creators feedback.
When a style guide is done correctly, it can be the key to producing content that stands out and grabs attention.