Content plays a huge role in establishing and solidifying your brand’s image. Therefore, it’s important to keep your content clear and consistent across all channels, especially when you’re working with a number of different content creators. This is what makes a style guide so vital for every brand.
By standardizing grammar and spelling preferences, documenting any unique jargon and providing a simple set of rules, a content marketing style guide can keep all your content creators on the same page.
Key Elements of a Content Marketing Style Guide
A good content marketing style guide should contain several important elements:
- Your chosen style manual: Which major style manual best serves your business? Generally, AP style is used for journalistic content, APA style is employed in technical writing and Chicago style is a favorite in the academic community. Starting your style guide by stating “We adhere to AP Style, with a handful of noted exceptions” signals to your content creators to refer to that manual for most issues but to check your company style guide for the exceptions.
- Your preferred dictionary: By letting your content creators know whether they should rely on Oxford or Merriam-Webster for spelling and hyphenation issues, you eliminate ambiguity and save yourself time editing and maintaining consistency.
- Brand attributes and architecture: This section will list all the attributes and stylistic quirks that define your brand. You could define your standards as a list of do’s and don’ts or, like inbound marketing agency Kuno Creative, in the form of a “Like This/Not Like That” table.
- Spelling and grammar exceptions to your style manual: There may be some instances where your company’s stance on a punctuation or spelling issue differs from your chosen style manifesto. Be sure to document these exceptions in your company style guide to avoid confusion amongst your writers.
- Problem words: Browse through some of your old blog posts, you’re bound to spot certain terms that are only used by people in your field. There might also be words that people in your field use in a different way than everyone else. List all these industry terms in your style guides to ensure they’re treated correctly by your content creators.
- SEO: Some companies even include a discussion of their SEO strategy in their house style guide. Listing some of your targeted SEO keywords and discussing some best practices can keep your content at the top of search results.
A Work in Progress
Even if you nail down all the key details in your first draft, your style guide is likely to evolve over time. Incorporating ideas that come from user feedback, and making tweaks as your brand grows and changes, will make your style guide stronger and your company’s content more effective.
It’s clear that businesses of all sizes can benefit from a comprehensive content marketing style guide. Having a clear set of guidelines allows your content creators to let their creative juices flow while still staying on-message. That’s a win for you, your brand and your writers.