Getting a reaction in these exercises is by design -- that’s how you get to the good stuff; the real insights that will inform the style guide. In fact, there are no right or wrong answers. Let them know, however, that they don’t have to rank the words. Your brand’s style has two components -- visuals and content: The style conventions established in the visual and content style bubbles are how you tell the story of your brand. Listen for key phrases (beyond the ones on the page) that stand out to you or ideas where there’s a lot of consensus. So, formatting, grammar, and punctuation rules all fall under this category. NOTE: The above example and our downloadable template feature adapted versions of actual results from multiple IMPACT clients. That means this template is not meant to be gospel. You’re a content manager who wants to get better work out of your writers and internal contributors in a way that makes creating content easier and more enjoyable for them. We think templates are essential to the content process, especially if you have more than one cook in the content kitchen. There’s a good chance people will pick opposing answers for certain scales even though they agree; find ways to guide them to that realization, although they’ll usually get there on their own. This training should also include an overview of the benefits of having a style guide. Use this free style guide template layout to create a custom brand manual for your startup, small or large company. An overview of content style guide basics; and. In fact, going back the example from our friends in North Carolina, their, On the other side of the spectrum, there’s. This first part is optional but, depending on the group, having everyone take two minutes to write down their expectations for the workshop can be a fun way to kick things off. They either want to change the tense of a word or use a different (but similar) one they like better in its place. Instead, you need to be clear, concise, and direct in your content style definition and direction. This is the only exercise where participants will answer from their own perspective, rather than trying to step into the shoes of their personas. We adapted this from a brand personality quiz originally developed by Big Brand System. Your tone will be situational and should be adapted to accommodate different scenarios. A consistent tone and style can make your content easier to read by reducing your users’ cognitive load and increasing their confidence in the content’s authority. 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. How should people feel when using or experiencing our product(s) and/or service(s)? Just let whomever will be reviewing a draft of your style guide know they will have a chance to review a base editorial style section and make change requests. Your content style guide should be as long as it needs to be -- no more, no less. We believe it’s a fantastic foundational tool on which to build your content style, but don’t be afraid to take it in a different direction. think about your brand as a reflex, without you having to spell it out for them. The Associated Press Stylebook (AP style)The standard for many newspapers and magazines. Whether you’re talking about visuals or content, there’s one golden rule when it comes to brand style. , while you’re making larger decisions for your business. Make it only available as a hard copy. This kind of thinking results in content style guides people will never want to use. Quick Tips • If this is your homepage, keep content brief and to the point with paragraphs separated by subtitles. Instead, as they go through each exercise, they should focus on providing honest opinions and having healthy discussions. If one or more people fall into the “playing it safe” trap described above, gently point out why that’s an issue. You need to have this same kind of situational awareness about your brand. Unfortunately, most articles aren’t very helpful in this regard, especially when it comes to developing your voice and tone guidelines. Do not share or discuss your answers. To gather the intelligence you’ll need to inform your choices in building the style guide; and. For example, at IMPACT, we do include a slide with a brand messaging strategy primer within the content style guides we create for clients: An adapted example of a brand messaging slide from an IMPACT content style guide. Yes, they may see a few of these words appear in some form in the end product, but the magic happens through the other words and phrases not given to them that they choose to describe why they feel the way they feel about their selected answers. And finally, what you shouldn’t do in your content. To use the template, click the File tab in the top left corner of your browser, then select Make a copy from the drop-down menu. Fill in the easy stuff first, like your messaging strategy (if you have one) and buyer personas. (“Don't use big words!”), Basic editorial rules -- grammar, spelling, etc. We’ve found, however, that the sweet spot is between two and four tone pillars for a style guide. After you get to a point where you know they should be accountable, just send the work back and circle what’s not up to style and have them correct it. You’ll also use three worksheets to run the branding exercises, but don’t give those worksheets out in advance. But obvious best practices like, “Don’t make your content look like a massive word wall; break up your text with headings, lists, etc.,” don’t really belong in a style guide. The most important inbound marketing tool you don't know you need. A simple list of dos and don’ts will work fine as a first draft. Again, your goal is not to walk away with words you’ll plug into a Mad Libs-esque content style guide template. © 2021 IMPACT, All Rights Reserved You might not have any, but here are the most common we’ve seen and how to handle them: Someone wants to change the rules. internet vs. Internet). (The only difference between the above worksheet and the one for tone is that the one for tone says “Tone Worksheet” at the top.). (“I’m going to put together a draft, and it will be shared with X, Y, and Z for feedback.”). (For instance, “Lyrical” from the tone word cloud has sparked many a lively debate with our clients.). You’re not passionate. Yes, clients hire us to do this for them. As we’ve talked about already, your content’s style is only one piece of the brand storytelling puzzle. But you’ll need to think through your content strategy and define the needs and wants of the company to create the ideal guide for your company. Typically, they’ll say something like, “Talk to people in multiple departments!”. 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. 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. Step 2: Review & Document Your Style Exceptions, AP style says that there are a lot of cases where, AP style broke the collective brain of editors all over the country when they, AP style says only the first word and proper nouns are capitalized in. Use this free template to create a Web Content Style Guide for your non-profit. So, we’ve reviewed what a content style guide is (and isn’t), why it’s important, and a few examples of what a content style guide can look like. Style: Finally, there’s your style. Ever. You could probably put all of these items into a single document, but no one will want to use it. Put another way, your style is the packaging and polish you put on your strategic messages, not the strategic messages themselves. Definitions, as well as usage, spelling, formatting and capitalization standards for words and phrases. In this context, style refers to what your content looks like. This article addresses why your organization needs a style guide, details what to include in your style guide, and gives examples of top-notch style guides to ensure streamlined external communications. Generally speaking, the good ones include some form of all the following elements: Brand personality traits. Don’t be fooled. Helpful Hint: If your brand has a documented set of core values that also should influence how your content is positioned, consider adding it as a reference in your style guide. A lot of ground is covered here, as this includes everything from newsworthy terms (e.g., Affordable Care Act vs. Obamacare) and slang (e.g., normcore), to industry-specific lingo (e.g. At IMPACT, we solved this challenge by developing a two-hour content style guide workshop. Each person will complete a worksheet, which will reflect their opinions of how they believe the brand should be perceived by your ideal buyers. Has your group has chosen a lot of the same words for the same reasons? Yes, clients hire us to do this for them. 470 James Street, Suite 10, (All of these materials are included in our content style guide workshop toolkit.). But having it available online (either in an internal intranet, in a Google Slide Deck, or available publicly online, like MailChimp), will make it accessible and easy to update, when you need to make changes. But having it available online (either in an internal intranet, in a Google Slide Deck, or available publicly online, like MailChimp), will make it accessible and easy to update, when you need to make changes. If you plan to have it available in print, that’s fine, too. 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. Of course, you shouldn’t do that. AP style broke the collective brain of editors all over the country when they announced in 2016 that “internet” should no longer be capitalized; the exception is to pretend that didn’t happen and to always capitalize “Internet.”. This training should also include an overview of the benefits of having a style guide. Just let whomever will be reviewing a draft of your style guide know they will have a chance to review a base editorial style section and make change requests. Brand messaging and content style go together like peas and carrots. 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. 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. What if, instead of dressing like a competent professional, you showed up to that presentation or speaking engagement in pajamas? Every person, vendor or partner working with your company should adhere to the brand voice and content style guide. Customisable templates make it easy for people to provide any type of content in the correct format, and style. Dos, don'ts, and critical best practices for rolling it out to your team. If you plan to have it available in print, that’s fine, too. Brand Style Guide. 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. Your goal is to create a document that your people will want to bookmark (if it’s online) or keep a hard copy of on their desk, so they can come back to it again and again, because it’s such a valuable resource. 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. Available in print and with an online subscription. Okay, So What About the Editorial Style Part? The first few times, send content back, and kindly let the writer know what needs to be changed and why. You’ll let them know afterward. You’ve got to be maniacally consistent with it, because someone may form a permanent, irreversible opinion about your brand based on a single piece of content. free brand style guide template Posted on March 30, 2017 June 20, 2017 Author LIBBY Categories Branding , Free Templates Tags brand style guide Regardless of whether you’re developing your brand right now or have a long-standing brand identity in place, it’s a good idea to have a brand style guide. Once your blogging content style guide is finished, it’s important that you don’t, in fact, consider it that. What did you want everyone to think of you? This is where the magic happens -- the words on the page prompt participants to share their real feelings. The easy path here is to assemble a group of all marketers or all executives -- or perhaps some combination of the two. But the purpose of this guide is to teach you how to create your content style guide 100% on your own, without having to hire an agency. So, when it comes to rolling out your style guide…. -- can be. And we’re now going to teach you how to facilitate it on your own! 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. For example, at IMPACT, we do include a slide with a. primer within the content style guides we create for clients: As you can see in the image above, this is merely an excerpt that links out to a. , which is a massive document all by itself. Also, note any consensus around negative words and the why behind them. Afterward, have everyone take turns sharing their answers, and why they chose them. Whether it’s via email, Slack, smoke signal, carrier pigeon, training, or company meeting, let people know when things change and why. “Why?” and “What do you mean by that?” are two of our favorites. Listen for key phrases (beyond the ones on the page) that stand out to you or ideas where there’s a lot of consensus. But having style is essential to executing an effective blogging strategy, guaranteeing your messaging is packaged for maximum impact, thus empowering you to win the internet. Before moving on, explicitly state that the goal of the workshop is not to have everyone agree on the same answers. But in order to understand what we mean by that, you first need to see how it works. As a result, they try to over-engineer the final product by making it longer, because they equate complexity and length with importance. What a content style guide is and why your brand needs one. Given the complexity of their organization and its size, history, and tradition, however, that shouldn’t be a surprise. You’re inappropriate. It should be used by anyone on your team -- or freelancers who work with you -- who will be creating content for your brand. Again, you might not run into any of these issues -- that’s also okay. An annual, one-user online subscription is $35, usually with a 20% discount offered for automatic renewal options. Our Brand Style Guide template is designed to help you lay the foundation for your brand's logo, fonts, colors, and more. While your contributors may often be responsible for choosing images for their own work -- we do that at IMPACT for our blog -- notes about visual preferences (like natural photography with bright colors or no text on featured images for blogs) should live in a visual style guide. Fonts are a large part of any collateral you produce, … Again, there are no wrong answers, but it’s good to share with them that it’s a common fear of brands who want to stand out in the crowd to still instinctively want to play it safe or be everything to everyone.In this scenario, we usually say at the conclusion of the exercise (so no one person is singled out):“If you’re so agreeable to everyone -- where you’re spontaneous, but also thoughtful; exclusive, but somehow also inclusive; modern, but still traditional at the same time -- you may not make anyone mad, but you won’t stand out in any way, either. But it's also a reimagining of Microsoft style—a tool to help everyone write in a way that's natural, simple, and clear. of your brand’s personality and style between the participants. In their eyes, if it’s “too short,” it’s probably not enough and/or must be a disservice to the nuances of their brand. We like to bold key phrases and words that should stick in the memories of those using the style guide, which has the added bonus of making the style guide easy to skim. 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. Additionally, you can have as few or as many tone pillars as you’d like. So, keep that in mind as we go through the remaining exercises.”. (I know, that's an annoying answer. Style guidance for places (addresses, cities, states), academic degrees, names, and acronyms. How can your templates accomplish all this?By incorporating the right elements—for strategic thinking, SEO-frien… Basic editorial rules -- grammar, spelling, etc. What Kind of Pushback Will You See in These Exercises? f you’ve already created your brand messaging strategy, you’ll want to tailor your questions to the selected brand messaging style. It also won’t tell you how to win the internet. Participants will have five minutes to complete the worksheet below on their own, based on the following instructions: “On the worksheet in front of you, you will see a set of four scales. How to write an effective content style guide for your brand. As IMPACT’s Editorial Director, Liz is obsessed with helping businesses and industry leaders create addictive online content experiences, while also innovating new ways to "unsuck" the content creation process for subject matter experts and sales pros. They shouldn’t be ambivalent when they do or do not like something. We’re not here today to talk about what your message is or to flesh out your talking points. Let it happen. Tell you what your content ’ s bad and carrots the other complete... Training should also include an overview of the benefits of having a style guide Adoption & Governance exceptions. Speak to a negative ; it ’ s easier said than done content to match company.. 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