What Is A Style Guide?

These days, most businesses are writing and posting content across multiple channels. Blog posts, articles, emails, newsletters, official reports, social media—these are all staples of an engaged, well-developed brand. However, with so much going on, business writing can vary from situation to situation and may confuse readers.

This is where a style guide comes in. A style guide is a set of rules that ensures a business’ written communication is consistent and on-brand across all of its channels. It ensures that all employees are following the same guidelines. This, among other tools, can help to eliminate unseemly inconsistencies from official communications.

Style guides can be extensive and address the fine minutiae of writing. For example, the correct use of contractions or abbreviations and spelling out numbers can all be addressed in a brand’s style guide. Yet for small businesses, style guides may be short 1 or 2 page documents. Here, founders can quickly clarify the most important terminology used in the company.

Why Do I Need a Style Guide

Create a Stronger Brand Voice

The way a brand chooses to communicate affects how it is perceived by its consumers. For example, a blog title that says “Business Experts Talk How to Write Better” sounds very different from “3 Simple Tips to Take Your Writing from Simple to Superb.” While both titles contain the same content, the differing tones will influence the readers’ expectations.

A style guide should offer pointers on the brand’s voice. Does the company want to sound professional and formal? Or casual and relational? By putting this information into a style guide, companies can be consistent and cohesive with their messaging.

Work Easier with Third Parties

Style guides are not only for employees. They are useful documents for anyone working for or with the company. Having a style guide ready to go for guest contributors, marketing teams, or strategic partners is not only professional but it simplifies their work and the company’s.

By using a style guide, contributing third parties will be able to deliver unique content that remains consistent with the quality and tone of the company. Furthermore, the company won’t have to spend time editing or changing content that clearly doesn’t align with their style. It’s a win-win situation.

Help Orient New Employees

Style guides can and should be included in a company’s orientation materials. New employees can quickly become familiar with the company’s style and incorporate it easily into their work. This will streamline the onboarding process and help new employees feel confident when creating content.

Over the years, employees new and old will be able to refer back to the style guide at any time to ensure their communication is always consistent. It is a document that will pay off in spades, especially as the company expands and brings in more employees.