8 Benefits of Creating a Content Style Guide
How content creators compose business content shapes brand image—from online marketing to internal reports and memos to emails. Your business brand looks immediately more professional when writers and editors follow a style guide or a set of editorial rules for details from spelling to formatting. Whether you employ a single copywriter or a team of content creators and editors, one of the most powerful things you can do for business brand success is to implement a basic content style guide.
Many businesses turn to standard industry style books to ensure quality copy. But if you wish to set your business apart, establish a set of your own style preferences to apply in fine brushes across your brand content. Creating even a small list of your top style priorities, such as how to do headlines or how many commas to use, will show in more polished and memorable messaging—and ultimately your own distinctive style.
8 Benefits of Creating a Content Style Guide
The effort it takes to create a simple, well thought-out style guide is minimal for the many essential long-term advantages:
1. Provides a Blueprint for Writers and Editors
A custom style guide keeps your editorial team on the same page. It provides a map for any of your staff needing to navigate content creation or brand presentation. A rookie writer to a seasoned marketer or freelancer to CEO can consult the same resource for preferred company usages with confidence.
The length, format, and substance of your style guide should be as unique as your business. Make it a user-friendly manual that any of your writers and editors will be sure to reach for. Get inspiration for the main elements of your own style by gathering ideas from other brand content style guides.
2. Ensures Clear and Consistent Content People Can Trust
Brands that routinely follow rules of editorial style produce clearer, more accurate content with distinctive voice and appearance. Customers and audiences in turn come to rely on quality messaging that is easy to follow and understand, as writers continually improve content.
Consistency is so critical, in fact, that it increases company revenues by a 23% average—according to one industry-wide study on brand presentation. At the same time, inconsistency is the primary cause of confusion among audiences—according to 71% of participants in the same study. Content consistency can include everything from grammar and style to tone and formatting.
Clearly, companies that consistently follow style guide rules increase the perceived value of their brand, winning more audience trust and loyalty over time.
3. Develops a Distinctive Brand Identity
The clarity and consistency achieved by using a style guide is alone worth its implementing. But you can further elevate your brand image by creatively integrating elements that go beyond clear content to clarifying the story of your brand.
Think of your style guide as a manual for your company brand identity. The more you document important aspects of your business and audience upfront, the more you can distill down the best parts of what defines you.
Some elements or descriptions you may include in your content style guide to better express your brand:
- Tone of Voice: Is it upscale? Light? Innovative? Formal or conversational?
- Language Style: Preferred grammar, spellings, terms, and word choices—including language to avoid
- Values: Mission statement, vision, brand personality, story and history of your business
- Target Audience: Ideal marketing personas
- Templates: Calls to Action (CTAs), taglines, heading styles, paragraph formatting or other content types
- Editorial Elements: Any punctuation, grammar, formatting, or style elements that complement the visuals—such as logo, colors, or images
Your final style guide doesn’t need to include every detail, but those most essential details for a finely tuned style.
4. Frees Up Your Editorial Team to Create Quality Content
Writers and editors who follow a dedicated content style guide continually improve their working processes, problem-solving, and creative output. They work directly with a living document that engages every contributor.
- Writers, editors, designers, and marketers save time asking fewer questions and spend more time producing content with fewer revisions.
- Content creators and editors sharing the same resource can collaborate easily to ensure accuracy, make suggestions, and update standards.
- Content managers can more readily train and integrate editorial teams, while providing focused feedback.
5. Makes your Branding More Profitable
A team of more engaged, flexible content creators reduces both turnover and time in hiring, training, and managing writers, editors, and freelancers. Empirical evidence shows how companies with strong brand guidelines retain employees longer, decreasing hiring costs by 43%. Yet only 25% of brands out of 95% of organizations with brand style guides actually adhere to them. The savings and incentives for implementing your own content style guide in day-to-day operations keep adding up. Companies that define their target market can also budget better by targeting the right content.
6. Makes Your Brand More Competitive
Every professional editor knows a style guide is the essential tool for quality publishing. Be one of those businesses that sticks to a style guide to boost your market presence. Your business can certainly benefit from referring to a standard style book, such as Associated Press (AP) or Chicago Manual of Style (CMOS). But you will most effectively leverage your unique features by creating and utilizing your own content style preferences. Whether you intend to remain small or scale up content across channels, your sustained efforts will steadily position your brand for success.
Do a competitor analysis for good measure. By comparing your brand and content guide with other businesses, you can learn which elements set yours apart and discern how others may perceive your work. Your own style guide can also help direct your internal communications, networks, and potential hires.
7. Provides Protection from Business Lawsuits
Include any information in your style guide that can protect you from potential lawsuits, including accurate references to trademarked company names you may use, such as Coca-Cola®. Ensure you refer accurately to your own company name, as well. For other relevant media law topics for protection, you can refer to sources such as the AP Stylebook, The Associated Press Stylebook and Briefing on Media Law.
8. Peace of Mind with your Editorial Process
The control and confidence you gain from using a style guide—especially your own company style guide, is invaluable. Such a foundational tool is integral to any aspect of your business presentation, from planning to execution and budgeting to profiting. Instead of throwing paint at the wall every time you create content, you can rely on a proven system that works for everyone in your firm—and your customers.
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