A content style guide is a documented set of guidelines and rules that break down your brand personality, and how it is (and isn’t) expressed through your content. Style guidance for places (addresses, cities, states), academic degrees, names, and acronyms. Use it to create clear and consistent content that meets the needs of users. The most important inbound marketing tool you don't know you need. Also, note any consensus around negative words and the why behind them. If one or more people fall into the “playing it safe” trap described above, gently point out why that’s an issue. The style guide process and template we’ve built here at IMPACT -- the very same that gets us the best results for our clients -- has three distinct parts: Voice, tone, and style each serve a particular purpose for your brand, but they are all very much dependent on each other to create the full effect of your brand’s content style. Definitions, as well as usage, spelling, formatting and capitalization standards for words and phrases. Your tone will be situational and should be adapted to accommodate different scenarios. Basic editorial rules -- grammar, spelling, etc. (I know, that's an annoying answer. This kind of thinking results in content style guides people will never want to use. Unfortunately, you can’t just go up to people and say, For example, you may want to be perceived as a thought leader in your industry --, And it doesn’t matter how good you are at what you do, it’s clear that you’re, Here’s the thing, though -- many of the entrepreneurs and marketers we work with love to focus on the visuals --. That’s a bad thing. If you remember nothing else from this section, remember those two things. You’re a marketer who is always on the hook for content mistakes made by freelancers or other members of your team. If you plan to have it available in print, that’s fine, too. Even if there are no fireworks or real objections, your participants will be forced to explain the emotional decisions behind why they do or do not like certain words. You should include specific notes on positive and negative voice attributes that will allow your team to adopt the right mental posture with your brand’s content. How much work you put into this section is entirely up to you, because there’s good news. Again, your brand’s voice is essentially defining the constants of your brand’s personality. But first, how will you run the exercise? How can your templates accomplish all this?By incorporating the right elements—for strategic thinking, SEO-frien… (“Don't use big words!”), Basic editorial rules -- grammar, spelling, etc. Finally, at a high-level, your content will be better across the board and more effective at attracting the right people. Quick Tips • If this is your homepage, keep content brief and to the point with paragraphs separated by subtitles. Style: Finally, there’s your style. As a result, they try to over-engineer the final product by making it longer, because they equate complexity and length with importance. Its online access allows us to include those login credentials in our style guide, so our staff can access a full set of the rules, beyond the common rules we include as an appendix. New Haven, CT. We adapted this from a brand personality quiz originally developed by, This manifests itself when one or more people have their. In reality, HubSpot is only the latter. If you opt to use our tone pillar model, here are the four key components of a tone pillar: A first-person statement that clearly establishes the theme for the pillar’s recommendations and rules; A subtitle that establishes why this is important -- typically, why your audience desires this style; How you effectively craft this tone in your writing; and. Each person will complete a worksheet, which will reflect their opinions of how they believe the brand should be perceived by your ideal buyers. Having a content style guide in place will guarantee your content always looks good and -- most of all -- what you’re saying and what you’re actually communicating to your audience are in sync. Come back to tone pillars when you’re ready to create more organization within the structure of your brand’s tone. The spreadsheet in your content strategy template has formulas built into it, so you don’t have to figure it out yourself. In this scenario, we usually say at the conclusion of the exercise (so no one person is singled out): , collect all of the worksheets, but take notes during the discussion period. They should grow and evolve along with you and your team. Here’s the thing, though -- many of the entrepreneurs and marketers we work with love to focus on the visuals -- the fonts, the logos, the colors. But if you hear any of these objections, you cannot cave. We also love how they reference their core values. When it comes to “how the sausage gets made” with your style guide, how you pull together your findings into a single, cohesive style guide will depend on two things: Your personal working style and preferences. Depending on the unique needs of a client, we may also include other optional sections -- for instance, exceptions for social media, core values, how to handle competitor references, or examples of “best in class” blog examples or other types of content. Of course, you shouldn’t do that. Allow other participants to respond first to the answers of others -- that dialogue can be really helpful for extracting the unfiltered, unguarded intelligence you need. A better definition of a content style guide would be to say it’s a document for your content creators and/or employees breaking down who your brand is, and how that is (and isn’t) expressed through copy, both from the 80,000-foot view and a tactical execution level. We’re going to spill the beans on exactly how you run a content style guide workshop in the next chapter, so you can make sure your content style guide will do all of these things.). Make it available in an online format. The Chicago Manual of Style (CMS)Beloved by book publishers, and fiction and nonfiction authors. However, if you think certain ideas, rules, or preferences about your brand’s style should be “obvious,” you’re opening yourself up to a lot of risk by not discussing them, agreeing to them, and documenting them in a content style guide. A punctuation guide, covering the use of the Oxford (or “serial”) comma, hyphens following a prefix, apostrophe usage when denoting possession, spacing, in-text quotations, and more. What better way for a designer to prove how detail-oriented they are than by compiling a detail … think about your brand as a reflex, without you having to spell it out for them. Why You Need a Brand Voice and Content Style Guide. It also won’t tell you how to win the internet. That means this template is not meant to be gospel. If you’re going to take our advice and use AP style, here are the most common exceptions our B2C and B2B clients select: AP style says not to use an Oxford comma following a conjunction in a series; the exception is to always use an Oxford comma in a series. That’s why you want people to feel something about the words that they chose. Two is a nice minimum, because it allows you to create a balance between two tonal qualities that can be scaled or differently weighted, as needed, depending on context. While that’s true, that doesn’t give you any sort of structure that will guarantee the results you’re looking for. This training should also include an overview of the benefits of having a style guide. You cannot provide your answers, even if prompted. It’s how you deliver on the promise of your voice. Lucidpress was designed to help you create stunning content that enables the success of your marketing goals. “Why?” and “What do you mean by that?” are two of our favorites. The Mailchimp content styleguide can serve as a solid jumping-off point if you’re creating your own guide, offering inspiration and a potential format to follow. Yes, perfect is and always will be the enemy of good, but if you don’t have a handle on your brand’s content style, you can run into a lot of trouble: ...many of them will get stuck on the one thing you did wrong. Acknowledgements; Getting started. In a lot of cases, you’ll still need some serious thinking time to bring it all together, but you’ll probably have a good idea during the workshop about some of the choices that need to be made. Expect people to onboard themselves and start using it. So, grab yourself a style guide book (or online subscription), determine what your exceptions are, then document those exceptions in your style guide, along with your external style guide access. They must also be present literally and figuratively for the duration of the workshop, so all they’ll need are their brains, a pen/pencil, and a notepad. Either they want to be able to select more than five or fewer. We have, however, worked with brands where we had to do more heavy-lifting than usual in the drafting phase based on the results of the workshop. So, when it comes to rolling out your style guide…. Think about the last time you had to speak to a group of people you didn’t know too well. In fact, going back the example from our friends in North Carolina, their, On the other side of the spectrum, there’s. We use a structured facilitation presentation deck with a set agenda to facilitate our workshops. Sometimes brands bundle this kind of information together along with visual notes like the ones mentioned above, but sometimes they’re separate. Also, note any consensus around negative words and the why behind them. Learn how we can help you reach your goals -- and to see if we're the right fit for you. Given that a content style guide is essentially a tactical, instructive manual of how to write like a particular brand, it can be tempting to put everything in there. Outside of large, planned or unplanned changes (leadership, ownership, mergers, etc. At IMPACT, we solved this challenge by developing a two-hour content style guide workshop. What if, instead of dressing like a competent professional, you showed up to that presentation or speaking engagement in pajamas? (203) 265-4377. You may experience some pushback, but that’s okay. Use this free template to create a Web Content Style Guide for your non-profit. organized set of rules for copywriting specifically for your company Download our FREE brand voice and style guide template. Listen for key phrases (beyond the ones on the page) that stand out to you or ideas where there’s a lot of consensus. Do not share or discuss your answers. Finally, there’s your style. So, formatting, grammar, and punctuation rules all fall under this category. That’s a great question, but you want to keep them focused on the task at-hand, and you don’t want to accidentally influence their choices by pivoting the discussion to the methodology behind the workshop. If you’re just starting out and not ready to take on something super complex, a one-page document with some basics might be the best approach until you get more comfortable. If you’re performing the workshop in person, collect all of the worksheets, but take notes during the discussion period. The voice and tone exercises are virtually identical. Available in print and with an online subscription -- although the latter is geared in pricing toward institutions, such as universities. Remember, if you feel compelled to write a novel in order to adequately delve into the nuances of your brand’s personality, No matter how you format this section -- our way isn’t the only way --. We ’ re now going to teach you how to run a content style guide all! 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