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July 21, 2022 (Updated: March 8, 2023)
Have you ever read an article or blog post and felt something was off about the appearance of the content? Maybe there was a lack of distinction between the key topics or enormous blocks of text, making it difficult to read. Without a style guide, content can end up like that. It can become unclear, losing its appeal and failing to capture your brand’s unique voice. Style guides are key to staying consistent across your marketing channels. Today, we’re covering the purpose of a style guide and answering some of the common questions about these valuable content tools:
A style guide serves as an outline that teams follow when creating content. This outline ensures cohesion across every piece of promotional material you create for your brand. Style guides are also essential for scaling content and working with freelancers or ghostwriters since larger teams can stay consistent with your branding more easily.
Think about it this way: working with ghostwriters is a common practice for many content agencies, but without a style guide, freelancers have no way to format and angle brand content. A lack of direction like this can lead to inconsistency and mixed quality. By creating a set of guidelines that outline how to format, link, add images, and incorporate tone and language, creators will have a better basis for producing quality content for your brand.
The way you outline your brand style guide depends on the content goals and needs of your content team. Typically, though, content marketers follow two main types of style guides:
The editorial style guide is almost like the master outline, directing the overall tone you want to cement across all brand content. Setting the overall tone (your brand voice) is important because it forms the basis of your brand’s voice and will be the approach you want writers and creatives to take when showcasing key offerings.
Think of answering guiding questions like: Are you serious or funny? Do you use industry jargon or plain language? What text format do you want written content to adhere to? When creating an editorial guide, consider established text formats, like the Chicago Manual of Style or the Associated Press Stylebook. Setting a required format like these will help you ensure consistency across all content—whether it’s a blog post, eBook, or social media update. More elements you might cover in your style outline include:
Image via Unsplash by @marcus_ganahl
Visual style guides outline how content and graphic elements should appear across your branded materials. These guides direct the creation of things like infographics, videos, advertisements, or offline print marketing materials.
If you work with a team of graphic designers and media creators, a visual style guide will keep your brand appearance consistent and cohesive, whether you’re publishing on your company website, social media, or printing promotional materials. Most content marketers use visual style guides to direct the creation of branded and online content like:
Style guides give creatives a basis for building content for your brand. Established outlines support consistency and show writers how to incorporate the elements and qualities of the brand. This consistency is essential to delivering quality content that audiences can relate to, engage with, and share.
Think about the Disney brand, for example. What do you think of when you hear the company name? Many people think of theme parks and Disney movies and cartoons, but you might also think of nostalgic ideas like childhood, innocence, magic, and wonder. It’s the persona the brand built.
If Disney started publishing content or promotional materials unrelated to the brand, it would break brand consistency. Audiences and long-time fans might pull away, and Disney could lose a chunk of its following. It’s pretty clear that the content Disney distributes follows strict brand style guides. Your company should be no different.
Maintaining brand consistency is essential, and a style guide makes that possible. It lays out the language, format, and content rules for keeping everything uniform across your marketing channels. With a consistent brand voice and style, audiences are more likely to engage—and more engagement will lead to conversions and customer loyalty.
At CopyPress, we dedicate ourselves to capturing your brand consistently in every piece of content we create. Before kicking off your campaign, we help you develop a style guide that outlines the most important elements of your content. This document gives our team the direction they need to stay consistent, from ideation to publication.
Best of all, your CopyPress style guide is a living document, and you can access it any time you want to update it or make adjustments to the content requirements. At CopyPress, we provide style guide development along with other valuable tools for content development. Simply fill out our contact form and tell us about your content needs, and we’ll help you create a style guide and scale content to support consistent branding—no matter how niche. Then, sign up for our weekly email newsletter to stay up to date on the top trends in content marketing.
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