A style guide is a set of standards that specify how content should be written and formatted. Establishing a corporate style guide will ensure that all communications coming from your business – whether they’re emails, website copy, or marketing materials – observe the highest criteria.
If you don’t have a style guide, your overall content could appear disjointed, leaving a negative impression on potential customers. In this guide, you’ll learn why implementing a corporate style guide benefits your business by helping you:
- Clearly communicate your brand’s message.
- Maintain a consistent brand voice across all platforms.
- Create a reliable customer experience.
- Cut down on unprofessional errors.
- Be recognizable to consumers.
1. Clearly Communicate Your Brand’s Message
Customers visit your website or sign up to receive your newsletter because they believe your business has something to offer. If your messaging is confusing – for example, a sudden dialect shift appears in a marketing campaign – then potential customers could end up dismissing your products and turning to your competitors.
Clear communication is the foundation for a successful business, especially an ecommerce business that relies on online interactions to drive sales. A corporate style guide lays out the procedures for straightforward messaging that speaks to your target audience. Doing this ultimately helps you achieve your objectives – keeping people on your website and converting leads into customers.
2. Maintain a Consistent Brand Voice Across All Platforms
In addition to achieving clarity, your business should maintain a consistent brand voice across all online platforms. Consistency is important to customers, and one study even showed that a consistent voice increased revenue by 23%. This consistency lets your audience know what to expect from your business and signals authenticity, as well as indicates that you’re a reliable authority in the industry. Implementing a corporate style guide means you can choose how you’re perceived by your target audience. So why not project a respected and dependable image?
Think of a style guide as a way to help shape your brand voice or “personality.” It ensures that each member of your team creates consistent content that reflects this voice, whether they’re writing product descriptions, social media posts, or customer service emails. And if your business doesn’t use a style guide, it leaves your team in the dark about the image you want to present. You could end up with conflicting or inconsistent content that frustrates potential customers and leaves them questioning your business model.
A style guide is also important because it’s a centralized document that outlines expectations for all current and future team members, so it streamlines the onboarding and training of new employees. Consistency doesn’t have to suffer while new employees are learning the ropes.
3. Create a Reliable Customer Experience
A style guide helps you build trust with your patrons by ensuring they receive a reliable customer experience. Consumers are much more likely to purchase from brands they trust, and every time someone has a reliable interaction with your business, it increases your trustworthiness.
But trust isn’t built overnight, and a consistent style of formatting and writing helps instill a sense of dependability in your business. For example, Starbucks customers know what to expect from the company’s website – a priority on functionality and a focus on artistic details.
Starbucks’ target customers know what to anticipate from the company, and they rely on that familiarity, whether they’re reading the menu in a store or ordering from the website. A style guide can help you accomplish this trust by establishing guidelines for significant content and design features, such as titles, subheadings, and visuals.
4. Cut Down on Unprofessional Errors
A corporate style guide clearly lays out overall punctuation, spelling, and grammar rules for every team member to follow. For instance, a style guide could instruct your team on:
- When to capitalize job titles and department names
- When to use a comma
- Whether to use a dash or a hyphen
- How to punctuate quotations
- How to distinguish abbreviations from acronyms
- How to write numbers and percentages
Grammar and punctuation rules aren’t always black and white. So it’s important to communicate your expectations regarding these types of issues clearly. If your team knows the basics, they can focus on producing well-organized and impactful content that drives sales.
A style guide can also decrease the number of distracting errors that make it into your published content because your entire team will be referring to the same standards. And if you ask a professional in-house or freelance proofreader to review your content, a style guide ensures they’re sticking to your preferred guidelines and editing to your standards.
A corporate style guide can also help implement the worldwide language rules your team may be working with. If you want to appeal to a global market, having established guidelines for reaching international customers is important. Part of achieving this is knowing how linguistic and cultural differences affect your business – and a style guide helps lay out this information for team members all over the world.
5. Be Recognizable to Consumers
To stand out from the competition, your business has to be recognizable. A style guide helps your team establish distinctive trademark cues that increase brand recognition. For example, you can display a company-wide logo prominently in all forms of customer interaction. You can also include several key terms or phrases in your style guide and instruct your team on how to implement them consistently.
These strategies help your audience associate your branding with your business’s products – so when they’re ready to make a purchase, you’re at the forefront of their mind.
For example, paper towel company Bounty uses the tagline “The Quicker Picker Upper.” Many people associate this phrase with paper towels in general and view Bounty as the obvious choice among competitors. Building such an easily identifiable brand without a style guide is challenging because continuity is an essential aspect of establishing familiarity and authority.
A corporate style guide helps your team implement clear and consistent guidelines that set your business apart from the competition. By making the initial effort to create a detailed style guide, you can save time in the long run, allowing your team to focus on improving your brand and reaching a wider audience.
A corporate style guide ensures that you’re clearly communicating what you offer to potential customers and putting out content that’s polished, relevant, and in line with your brand. Your entire team, from customer service representatives to marketing professionals to editors, can use it for all customer-facing and in-house communications.
Ready to step up your content creation game? Read more here about the top things you should include in your style guide to make sure your team is publishing excellent content that reaches your target audience.