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Strengthen Your Brand With a Style Guide

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We all know that a company benefits when clients and prospects have strong awareness of its brand. Of course, visual elements like logos, colour palettes and imagery selection are crucial to brand recognition, but don’t overlook the importance of consistent copy. Beyond taglines, using the same writing style reinforces your brand, and it all begins with a style guide.

When we work with a new client one of the things we look for is a brand guide that supports design and copy development. If the client doesn’t have such a guide, we can help them create one. In this post we’ll focus on the style guide for copy.

This guide is useful not only for writers in the marketing department, but also for the web team, client relations, media relations, the sales team and more – basically anyone who writes marketing materials, web copy, letters, emails and other types of content.

A style guide is useful not only for writers in the marketing department, but also for the web team, client relations, media relations, the sales team and more.

How to get started

It’s a great exercise for writers and editors to create a style guide. The team should determine the key aspects of style to document. What mistakes or style missteps do they often see? What style questions do others frequently ask them? Seek input from colleagues across the company. If desired, look through marketing materials, email messages, advertising and web copy for inspiration.

Style guides can be simple or comprehensive. Some are a single page and others run 30 pages or more. Consider including some or all of the following in your style guide:

  • Common grammar rules
  • Preferred spelling of words and terms
  • Frequently misused words and terms
  • Correct – and full – spelling of fund/product names, index names, etc.
  • Glossary of common terms, defined
  • Explanation of industry-related acronyms and abbreviations
  • Best practices of style – examples include address format, font preferences, how to express numbers, style of bulleted lists, Canadian vs. U.S. spelling, active vs. passive voice, how to footnote
  • How to write a letter or email (e.g., salutation, body copy construction, call to action, signature line)
     

A robust style guide helps ensure brand consistency. The guide is a fluid document that should be updated when rules, preferences and other circumstances change. If yours is printed, consider updating it every year. A digital guide is easier to update as the need arises but, regardless of format, your company will be well served by a current, accurate style guide.

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