Cohesion is key when it comes to content creation.
Consumers generally connect with brands that align with their own interests. To turn these connections into lasting relationships, brands must use a consistent voice across all channels and messaging. While it is likely that more than one team member writes content for your brand, creating a brand publishing style guide ensures a cohesive tone.
Your brand publishing guide should evolve along with your business goals and market trends. Here’s what to keep in mind as you create (and frequently update) your guide:
1. Overarching Goals
Make sure you have a goal for every piece of content you produce and publish. Before you even begin writing, figure out what your content goal is.
Are you trying to increase traffic, rankings, social engagement, or sales? Your overarching brand goals will determine whether your content should be perceived as informative, entertaining, or inspirational.
2. Brand Voice
There are many different ways to communicate with your target audience. It’s important to think about who you’re talking to and what they are trying to accomplish by engaging with your brand.
When honing your voice, identify specific examples of how your brand would respond in various scenarios, instead of simply stating that your tone should be professional, casual, or playful. After all, these designations can mean different things to different people — show, don’t tell.
3. Spelling and Grammar
Be sure to document your rules for capitalization, abbreviations, numbers, and punctuation. Whether you decide on AP Style, Chicago Manual of Style, or a different style altogether, this will help all of your content contributors adhere to the same grammatical rules.
You can also use this section of your style guide to highlight any commonly misspelled, confusing, or misused words. If you have any spelling or grammar rules that are unique to your brand (e.g., maybe you stylize your brand in lower case), highlight those here as well.
Use the style guide to lay out your formatting preferences for headlines, subheadings, tables, bulleted and numbered lists, and outbound links. You can also use the formatting section to set general length requirements for paragraphs, blog posts, and other written material.
5. Content Specifications
While you may set general formatting requirements in the previous section, it’s also a good idea to have sections dedicated to specific types of content.
Specify what is expected for each type, whether it’s a blog post, news post, web copy, or a review. Include an outstanding example of each type of content that writers can refer to for stylistic inspiration while they’re working.
6. Visual Media
Visual support can help break up lengthy chunks of text, taking your content to a whole new level. But writers need some guidance when it come to choosing images and embedded social posts. Make a list of acceptable image sources, captions, size guidelines, and general practices for each type of media.
Brand publishing style guides can help keep your tone, voice, and purpose consistent over various platforms. The key is creating a guide that authentically represents your brand values and addresses your organizational goals.
Longneck and Thunderfoot offer brand publishing services and strategies to transform your company blog into a sophisticated trade publication that drives visibility and influence in your market. Learn more about brand publishing here.