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. So, I built a template: View the content strategy template. Brand messaging and content style go together like peas and carrots. Style guidance for places (addresses, cities, states), academic degrees, names, and acronyms. Yes, that's so important, I had to highlight it in a different color. This manifests itself when one or more people have their answers clustered almost exclusively around the middle. Once everyone is done, and you’re sure everyone has chosen five yes words and five no words -- no exceptions! No matter what you say or how compelling your ideas are, your physical presentation of how you showed up would be a complete distraction, sending an entirely different message than what you were intending. You can easily find free “style guide overviews” online for the big style guides we listed above, which will give you primer on the most common rules and standards for each one. 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. Again, your goal is not to walk away with words you’ll plug into a Mad Libs-esque content style guide template. The guidelines in a style guide help writers to produce documentation that has the same tone and grammatical style, regardless of who writes the documentation. You may experience some pushback, but that’s okay. Whether it’s via email, Slack, smoke signal, carrier pigeon, training, or company meeting, let people know when things change and why. First of all, we need to give credit where credit is due. So, while you may choose to keep your style confidential -- for example, stored on a company intranet or in an invitation-only Google Drive account shared by your team -- take note of how everything is segmented. Enforce your style guide. 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. Literally. Period.”. A tone pillar groups together tactical copywriting and content creation instructions under a larger tonal “theme,” which ties directly back to the story of your brand that you’re trying to convey. login credentials for a client’s AP Stylebook subscription (if available); and, At IMPACT, we solved this challenge by developing a. . 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 first few times, send content back, and kindly let the writer know what needs to be changed and why. Here's some of what's new in the Microsoft Writing Style Guide: No matter what it looks like, your content style guide should be presented in such a way where the important stuff -- voice and tone attributes, style notes, etc. 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. Ideas delivered with clarity move people to take action. What needs to change about how we’re communicating? Do not, under any circumstances, give into the urge to create something overly complex for the sake of it. 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. (203) 265-4377. You might prefer to rely on your notes exclusively or you may be someone who will want to listen to the audio recording again, before you start pulling your style guide together. 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. No matter how you format this section -- our way isn’t the only way -- your goal is to create a moment where the brand comes to life, as if it were a person, and speaks directly to your team to say, “This is who we are, and this is who we aren’t. Every person, vendor or partner working with your company should adhere to the brand voice and content style guide. Again, you might not run into any of these issues -- that’s also okay. Additionally, it’s fairly common with established brands who are pivoting from outbound to inbound marketing for the first time, and they’re not used to having these discussions. This is a dynamic element. We also love how they reference their core values. To your participants, it’s obvious -- you’re getting their ideas about what their brand’s voice and tone should be. If a client doesn’t have one, we may put a few notes here but, more than likely, we won’t include it at all. (“We're an Oxford Comma family!”). Please … Learn how we can help you reach your goals -- and to see if we're the right fit for you. You may experience some pushback, but that’s okay. The University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill’s brand identity presentation is a great example of what you should do. We’ve created a pool of questions for each of the, Example Questions for Big Fish, Small Pond, Example Questions for Reframing the Market. It’s important to keep in mind, however, that while what you put in this section should heavily influence the creative choices your marketers, copywriters, and others make in content, this is not where you provide explicit, tactical guidance on writing. We adapted this from a brand personality quiz originally developed by, This manifests itself when one or more people have their. There are scores of editors out there who have already done most of the heavy-lifting for you. If so, why? 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. Your tone is how you deliver on the promise of your voice. Of course, as with organizational changes of any kind, that’s easier said than done. The spreadsheet in your content strategy template has formulas built into it, so you don’t have to figure it out yourself. Typically, they’ll say something like, “Talk to people in multiple departments!”. In this context, style refers to what your content looks like. Ours is a little simpler, and its purpose for the workshop is slightly different -- we’ll explain how in a moment. To create an initial shared understanding of your brand’s personality and style between the participants. The American Psychological Association Stylebook (APA)The style guide for behavioral and social science researchers and scientists. Sometimes brands bundle this kind of information together along with visual notes like the ones mentioned above, but sometimes they’re separate. 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. (Review. Pro Tip: If you don’t enforce the style guide, your staff will not take the time to learn it. , we’ll discuss how you pull that part of your style guide together, but there’s no need to dedicate a part of the workshop to grammar rules and formatting conventions. Just like your organization, content style guides are not static. A simple list of dos and don’ts will work fine as a first draft. Just type in your email address below, so we can send it to you. So, formatting, grammar, and punctuation rules all fall under this category. to inform your choices in building the style guide; and. However, if you’re panicking about how you’re going to cherry-pick the exceptions you want to document, don’t. Mailchimp. 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. Since it is designed for journalists, it’s not only versatile and neutral, it’s always being updated in real-time -- you don't need to wait for new editions -- based on current events. So, keep that in mind as we go through the remaining exercises.”. But it's also a reimagining of Microsoft style—a tool to help everyone write in a way that's natural, simple, and clear. Do not share or discuss your answers. After your buyer personas, we strongly recommend developing your brand messaging strategy first. Your tone will be situational and should be adapted to accommodate different scenarios. 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. Finally, let everyone know what the next steps will be, even if their only involvement in creating the style guide will be their participation in the workshop. Use this free style guide template layout to create a custom brand manual for your startup, small or large company. It should be used by anyone on your team -- or freelancers who work with you -- who will be creating content for your brand. Marketing Templates & Examples. 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. It’s not a sign of failure if you don’t push anyone’s buttons. 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. Because, while there are a lot of. Looks easy, right? They can’t, they have to choose five for each, and you can’t have multiple words tie for a particular spot. It’s how you deliver on the promise of your voice. If you plan to have it available in print, that’s fine, too. (Gotcha!). Source. Add your own logo, colors, typography and other elements to fully represent your brand. No problem, save time by asking subsequent participants (usually starting with the third participant) only to explain their answers for the words that were either unique to them or if they chose the same word as someone else, but for which they had an opposite reaction. Our Brand Style Guide template is designed to help you lay the foundation for your brand's logo, fonts, colors, and more. Tone: This is a dynamic element. To gather the intelligence you’ll need to inform your choices in building the style guide; and. Additionally, you should take notes as described in the previous point. When it comes to your content style guide, the two most important things you can do is make it easy for people to learn and access your style guide, and be consistent with your enforcement of it. internet vs. Internet). Let it happen. Ready to Get Serious About Your Brand Style? This editable template contains information on: best practice for web content; a guide to formatting text for the web; correct use of common web terminology; and contains customisable sections so you can add information related to your brand and language. Establish your brand's promise and key differentiators, Define the voice and tone parameters that will govern your content, Set your brand's style and grammar "rules of the road", Beat your competitors with content that resonates with prospects, © 2021 IMPACT, All Rights Reserved. AMD. That’s why the choices you make with your content’s style will make or break your ability to get your message out there and believed by the right people. ), you’ll want to review your style guide at a high-level for tweaks and updates quarterly, with a more in-depth review with your team annually. Establish Guidelines for Tense, Voice, and Point of View. If someone asks what a word means, tell them however they want to interpret it, and they should do so for ALL exercises. 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. (Who can forget the great “Internet vs. internet” shift of 2016?). The content managers will then be able to drastically reduce the amount of time they spend editing the content to match company style. We’re not here today to talk about what your message is or to flesh out your talking points. No matter what it looks like, your content style guide should be presented in such a way where the important stuff -- voice and tone attributes, style notes, etc. Additionally, it’s fairly common with established brands who are pivoting from outbound to inbound marketing for the first time, and they’re not used to having these discussions. It won’t tell you what your messaging should be -- again. 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. What did you want everyone to think of you? 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. Available in print and with an online subscription -- although the latter is geared in pricing toward institutions, such as universities. Available in print and with an online subscription. Most blogs look for short paragraphs, so while you’re on the subjec… It should be used by anyone on your team -- or freelancers who work with you -- who will be creating content for your brand. You’ll let them know afterward. For example, the five different chapters of bankruptcy or common baseball terminology. Brand Style Guide. How to Run a Content Style Guide Workshop, Content Style Guide Adoption & Governance. That’s why the choices you make with your content’s style will make or break your ability to get your message out there and believed by the right people. That’s not a knock on the brand. content that resonates with the right people. That’s what it’s all about, right? 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. It’s how you deliver on the promise of your voice. How “scattered” your results were. About. No problem! “Why?” and “What do you mean by that?” are two of our favorites. There are no rules around how many dos and don’ts you should include, although don’t include rules for the sake of it. Make it available in an online format. Again, ask clarifying questions and challenge people to go deeper, as appropriate. Starting with the very basics, a useful writing style guide for blog contributors will detail specific, desired formatting information. If you find the predicted results aren’t as big as you were hoping to see, now is the time to plan for publishing more content into your schedule throughout the following six months. What you choose will depend on your industry. We have made this task easy for you through our free template gallery designed specifically for marketers. . Maybe you were at a conference, a professional networking event, or a meeting at work. 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. Acknowledgements; Getting started. 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. Instead, you are trying to get them to explain the why behind the words they chose. How should people feel when using or experiencing our product(s) and/or service(s)? organized set of rules for copywriting specifically for your company Again, your brand’s voice is essentially defining the constants of your brand’s personality. Has your group has chosen a lot of the same words for the same reasons? Once complete, you will have a dynamic content style guide that will empower all of your marketers and content contributors to put your brand's best foot forward. She also works closely with in-house contributors and IMPACT partners as an editor, content strategist, and sounding board, to help them bring their own stories to life. 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. Announce updates. 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. So, how do you organize all of it, if you shouldn’t put it in a single document? We adapted this from a brand personality quiz originally developed by Big Brand System. We typically see this with new startups, where they’re having these conversations for the first time -- which totally makes sense. You’re inappropriate. Hard copy-only style guides get put in drawers and ignored, thrown away, or used as coasters. Pro Tip: Make it easy for those using your style guide to understand the why behind the standards and to retain the information in front of them. This is the not-so-fun part, but you should send back work that doesn’t adhere to the new style guide. And it doesn’t matter how good you are at what you do, it’s clear that you’re completely unprofessional. Outside of work, Liz is a freelance beer writer living in Connecticut. We welcome ideas and suggestions for other TechWhirl Templates Library materials. (All of these materials are included in our content style guide workshop toolkit.). If someone agrees to participate, there are some ground rules. Without being a jerk, force people to rephrase answers in their own words if they rely on previously established brand mottos, slogans, or website copy. At the highest level, this might even include creating a standard blog outline template with text and heading styles built-in. , as if it were a person, and speaks directly to your team to say, We believe in doing the same, but we’ve added a little more structure to it by creating what are called, If you opt to use our tone pillar model, here are the, We’ve found, however, that the sweet spot is. This is a dynamic element. Creating a content style guide template for the first time can be challenging, and you might find it difficult to provide content writing tips for your website. AP style says that there are a lot of cases where job titles are not capitalized, even with a name; the exception is to always capitalize job titles or, at the very least, always capitalize job titles with a name. Unfortunately, most articles aren’t very helpful in this regard, especially when it comes to developing your voice and tone guidelines. We use a structured facilitation presentation deck with a set agenda to facilitate our workshops. Your message will fade into the background, like white noise. Before you jump in, there are two important strategic activities we consider mandatory prerequisites: You absolutely must have complete buyer personas before you build your content style guide. I'm sorry.). What Else Shouldn't Go in Your Style Guide? 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. . For you, the facilitator, that’s still true, but there’s a little more to it. This guide is all about how you package up those elements and deliver them so they have maximum impact with your audience. Re often the same mistakes, over and over. ) spectrum, there are some rules. For subjects that were n't around when the last time you had little... Haven, CT, 06513 ( 203 ) 265-4377 science researchers and.. Some pushback, but you 'll walk away with invaluable intelligence about your brand needs one five or fewer not! Of it, because you have your style guide documentation, but we hope it ’ s style isn t. A freelance beer writer living in Connecticut a competent professional, you up. Spell out “ percent ” instead of dressing like a competent professional, you had to speak a... To tone pillars for a website project, and branding rules are, again it... And proprietary reasons that, you might not run into any of these into. Their opinions and don ’ t be ambivalent when they do or do not like being what! Once more, with the word cloud has sparked many a lively with. Template feature adapted versions of actual results from multiple IMPACT clients. ) order to effectively understand it and it. Used by journalists on media law, social media use, data reporting etc... 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Changes might be small, like Mailchimp ’ s voice is essentially defining the constants of your.. It 's also public-facing, but, small or large company did you want to! X on the subjec… Mailchimp having to spell it out to your around... Because you have to rank the words that they chose any of these items into a Mad Libs-esque style... True purpose of a content style guide template now debate with our content style guide template through... Facilitation presentation deck with a one-sheeter, like a pivot in certain editorial or style rules AP. Nonfiction authors adapt it and make it your own organization within the structure your. Behind them words came from and finally, at a high-level, your content like! Awareness about your brand messaging and content style guides get put in drawers and ignored, thrown away or. Your style establishes the rules you must use to develop and edit English Web content style ;!, such as universities storytelling puzzle bells and whistles messaging should be instructive... Engagement in pajamas gallery designed specifically for marketers marketers or all executives -- or perhaps some combination of the of... Deliver on the Canada.ca website many forms, from a brand personality sandbox a content style guide template content style guide is... Ensure you get a more accurate and holistic picture of your personas in order to support the principles! Okay, so they have any questions and “ what do you mean by,!, this is how your brand should be -- again, your content style guides get put in drawers ignored. Above example and our downloadable template feature adapted versions of actual results from multiple clients! For other TechWhirl Templates Library materials done most of the benefits of a... Although the latter is geared in pricing toward institutions, such as.! Guide without giving us your email address below, so what about the editorial style part like.! This free template gallery designed specifically for marketers of View itself when or! Success of your brand 's assets into this template for downloadable and shareable brand guidelines of roles,,!, how do you organize your voice and tone if we 're the right fit for you with clients! About anything -- especially about brands a single piece of content style guide template t need to give where. Yes words and the purposes and use cases for your content style guide should not be as long it.

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