Brand owners and marketers understand that Digital Marketing thrives on great content. Especially with the evolution of Social Media and Blogs which has increased the need and frequency of content sharing. Knowing this, it is important to strive for quality, authenticity, and originality when developing marketing content for your brand.
To achieve these three, however, you must beforehand develop a Content Marketing Style Guide for your brand. This guide serves as a reference and a lighthouse when developing content. The guide clearly defines who your brand is, what the brand stands for, the target audience, the appropriate language and the tone that the brand will use in speaking to its target audience.
Content Marketing Style Guide Defined
The Content Marketing Institute defines a style Guide as “a holistic set of standards that defines your company’s branding. It references grammar, tone, logo usage, colors, visuals, word usage, point of view, and more.”
The content marketing style guide plays a key role in brand building and forms part of the foundation of any brand. Here are some reasons why it’s important to have a content marketing style guide.
Benefits of Having a Content Marketing Style Guide
1. It Promotes Trust
When you’re in a delicate industry (e.g. finance and health), you NEED people to TRUST you. If there are inconsistencies in your brand voice, tone, core values, company culture and spelling/grammatical errors in your email content, social media content, display ads etc. you are seen as spammy, untrustworthy and highly unprofessional.
For this reason, some customers won’t put their health or finances in your care no matter how much integrity you have in reality. In fact, one of the ways of differentiating spam emails from actual Bank emails are typos, brand inconsistencies, tone of voice etc.
2. It Helps to Build Standardisation
Having a content marketing style guide helps put everyone on your marketing team on the same page, leaving no room for guesswork, this, in turn, helps you to standardise your brand messages.
As your brand grows, so will your marketing team. For brand owners who currently manage their marketing messages by themselves, you will need to hire teams to handle this in the future. 9 times out of 10, your team will be made of different people with different specialties, values, and beliefs. Without a Content Marketing Style guide to unify their efforts, inconsistencies will occur and there will be expensive mistakes.
3. It Helps to Build a “Brand”
When creating content, you are providing information to someone online, and when you do this consistently in the same well-thought-out, professional way, with the same tone, same writing style, same design and color and same quality, over time, people will be able to recognize your content even without seeing your LOGO.
Now that we understand why having a content marketing style guide is crucial for all businesses, let’s take a look at the elements to consider in developing a style guide for your own brand.
Creating Your Content Marketing Style Guide
Since brand perception is mostly formed from what a brand says and how they say it, small details like deciding how you’ll write ebook is important for consistency sake.
• With a small first letter and a hyphen: e-book
• Capitalizing just the first letter and no hyphen: Ebook
• Capitalizing the first letter and a hyphen: E-book
• With a small first letter and no hyphen: ebook
This attention to detail may seem small and unimportant but things like this add up and if they are consistent throughout every content format you publish, then it helps people form an impression about your brand.
Here are the elements of a style guide:
1. Define Your Target Audience
Although you may have a general target audience already defined for your brand, it is still important to define the target audience that your content will address.
For example, your brand’s target audience may be children between the ages of 3 – 9, however, you may decide to focus on their parents for your content marketing because of the medium, the choice of who has the buying power and who can put the information to good use.
2. Define Your Objective(s)
It helps to understand the reason for the whole Content Marketing in the first place. Will you focus on product demonstration, thought leadership delivery, perception change, Entertainment or Education? Will you focus on a particular subject area? Sometimes, you can decide to focus on more than one area but you must be sure you have the resources to achieve this.
For example, if thought leadership is your main focus, you should have the resources to carry out researches and develop white papers.
3. Define Your Tone of Voice
Now To do this, you have to look inwards at your brand and what you stand for. To help you define your brand voice, think of your brand as a person. Then ask the following questions:
If your brand were a person;
• What tone of voice would it use to speak to your audience? (personal, humble, clinical, honest, direct, scientific)
• What language would you use to pass across your message? (complex, savvy, insider, serious, simple, jargon-filled, fun, whimsical)
• What purpose will your content have? (engage, educate, inform, enable, entertain, delight, sell, amplify)
4. Define your Brand Personality
Questions to help you decide on this are: If your brand were a person;
• Who would it be? (parent, teacher, student, friend, teenager, celebrity etc.)
• How would it make your target audience feel? (upbeat, safe, happy, cautious, carefree etc.)
• What kind of personality would it have? (friendly, playful, authoritative, warm, inspiring, professional)
For example, if you’re a fashion designer, your brand voice and personality could be something like this;
Elite but affordable
This brand personality test can help you further refine your findings.
5. Define Your Writing Style
Your writing style should define your formatting and clearly state how major words should be used. It should have punctuation rules, rules for number and types of references cited etc. You should also decide if you will use the British or the American spelling and be consistent with this. At the end of each section, include an example that clearly shows the implementation.
6. Define your Visual Style
Graphics and Videos now play a key role in content marketing as lots more videos and images are shared on Social Media daily.
You need to outline where your logo will sit, your font type and size, the kind of images and designs to use.
Will your designs be minimalist?
Will it be leaned in favour of typography or images?
What is your colour ratio? Will it be 70% primary colour and 30% secondary colour?
What are your primary colours and your secondary colours
Now that you have taken the time to develop a Content Marketing Style guide for your brand, share it with your current team and ensure that all new members that join the team buy into it as well. Follow up to ensure that each content piece aligns with the guide as it will only serve its purpose if it is implemented.
Do you have a content marketing style guide for your own brand? Share your answers and comments with us in the comment section below.
If you would like to take the hassle-free road and have a professional create a Content Marketing Style Guide for your brand and also help to create optimized content for your blogs and Social Media Pages, send us an email at email@example.com or give us a call at +234 818 129 5000.