Your business’s written content is your way of communicating what you can offer your customers. If the content is strong, it can persuade them to stay on your website or make a purchase. If it’s weak or inconsistent, people may quickly lose interest in your business or click away from your site.
Powerful content that leaves an impression on potential customers will reflect your overall brand, or how people perceive your business and distinguish it from the competition. Your brand is your business’s “personality” – so to increase website traffic and drive sales, it should be influential, memorable, and cohesive.
But how can you ensure that all the content you and your team create incorporates your brand’s style and voice? One answer is to design a clear and detailed brand style guide for your entire team to follow. In this post, we’ll discuss why a style guide is essential and exactly how to create one. You’ll learn how to:
- Define your intended audience
- Develop a tone and voice
- Set clear editorial standards
- Dictate language guidelines
- Be consistent
1. Define Your Intended Audience
The first step to creating a brand style guide is defining your target audience. Who are you writing content for? Who’s your ideal customer? While this process will look different for every business, considering the products or services you offer helps.
Are your products intended to help people in some way? Do you offer specific services that will likely only appeal to a certain audience? The answers to these types of questions can help you form your brand voice and create content that appeals to your potential customers.
For example, if you sell upscale jewelry or clothing, you’ll likely want to cultivate an image of elegance and classiness. If you manage a recruitment service, you may want to project organization, confidence, and success. No matter what qualities you want to emphasize, your brand voice should be immediately evident to consumers – whether they’re opening an email, visiting your website, or reading a blog post.
2. Decide on a Tone of Voice
Once you’ve determined what image you want for your brand, you can focus on cultivating it. A defined tone of voice (or brand voice) helps build relationships with customers and lets them know what to expect from your business. When creating a brand style guide, you should thoroughly detail the tone of voice you want to convey and outline how to accomplish it.
You can include several guidelines in your brand style guide to ensure that your team implements the appropriate brand voice. For example, do you want to express a lighthearted and friendly tone with your content? Then encourage the use of contractions, colloquialisms, and less formal vocabulary in written copy.
Ultimately, whatever brand voice you decide on, you should clearly communicate it to your staff through your brand style guide. Doing so will ensure that customers are getting clear and consistent messaging across every online platform, which will help your business stand out in their mind when it’s time for them to make a purchase.
3. Set Clear Editorial Standards
As part of your brand style guide, you should clearly establish the editorial standards you expect your team to adhere to. Grammar, punctuation, and spelling rules aren’t always straightforward, and they can sometimes be vague and confusing. So, rather than simply saying that you expect all published content to be error-free, take the extra step and specify certain procedures to follow, such as when to use a serial comma, capitalize job titles, and punctuate quotations.
You should also include guidance on how and when to use company-specific acronyms, logos, and terminology. The more specific you are with these details, the less time your content editorial team will spend reviewing and rewriting published content. Your team will have more time to collaborate and work on other initiatives, such as marketing and growing your business. With time, your writing and editing teams will become more familiar with the style guidelines, meaning the overall quality of the content will improve.
When you clearly define these rules and procedures and apply them consistently, your business will appear more trustworthy and cohesive to consumers. And if potential customers view your business as reliable, they’ll be more likely to make a purchase or recommend your services to others.
4. Dictate Language Guidelines
Your team members may be based all over the world, so it’s important to dictate specific language guidelines to ensure that all your published content is consistent and reflects your brand – no matter who’s writing it.
For example, different dialects, such as Australian and Canadian English, have different spelling and grammar conventions. It would look unprofessional and disorganized to send a promotional email in one dialect and write social media posts in another. Your brand style guide should include the dialect you expect your writers to use, as well as some common spelling, grammar, and punctuation rules associated with that dialect.
Another standard to consider adding to your style guide is how and when to use jargon. Jargon – or industry-specific terminology – can be difficult for those outside the company to understand, so you should outline exactly when it’s appropriate to use. You can also include examples of jargon in your brand style guide and indicate when to define the terminology for better understanding.
5. Be Consistent
Consistent brand messaging is a key factor in creating a style guide, whether you’re designing a company logo or writing an email signature. Once the guide is complete, ensure that all team members across all departments can access it and apply it to all forms of company communication.
Team members can then craft social media captions, email campaigns, website copy, and even in-house company presentations with your brand style in mind. A brand style guide provides your team with the information they need to build a brand that customers consistently trust. Consistency increases brand recognition, which leads to repeat customers and increased sales.
Our business services can ensure that every piece of content you or your team publishes meets your specific brand guidelines – from website copy to in-house presentations. As an ecommerce business, you want to position yourself as a leading authority in the field through well-written and effective content.
We understand the value of memorable, on-brand content and can offer your team advice on how to improve the clarity, concision, and flow of your copy. We’ve worked with thousands of businesses, from innovative start-ups to Fortune 500 companies.
Are you ready to take your business’s written content to the next level? Read more here about the top things to include in your business’s style guide and start producing quality content today.