If you want to improve and scale content production for your business, then it’s important that you have guidelines in place to ensure that your content remains consistent and on-brand. A content guidelines policy or a content style guide is one of the best ways to do this. No matter what kind of content you are publishing, whether it’s a light-hearted blog post, a listicle, or a white paper, having a guide in place will ensure that it all stays on brand and is undoubtedly from your business.
Without a content guidelines policy or style guide in place, you could end up with all kinds of content types that might be great, but just aren’t consistent or in line with your brand. This is especially true if you are working with a lot of content creation professionals like an in-house copywriter, a content agency, and freelancers.
Why Create a Content Guidelines Policy?
Having a content style guide in place will ensure that you are presenting your brand consistently, which can result in increasing revenue by over thirty percent. Along with this, it just makes things easier for everybody. Whether you are working with a content creation agency or sending some jobs to a freelance writer, having clear guidelines in place gives them something to follow, resulting in content that is more like what you wanted, needs less edits, and is closer to being ready to publish.
Brand consistency is an important aspect of running a successful brand and improving brand awareness today. And, it’s not just about the colors and logos that you use; the character, tone of voice, and images that you convey in your content is just as important.
What is a Content Style Guide?
A content style guide is a document that outlines all the dos and don’ts when it comes to creating content for your brand. The content strategy will deal with the type of content that you are going to create and when it will be published. On the other hand, the style guide is there to provide more information on the smaller details.
It is designed to give any content creators that you work with specific instructions on creating content that is on brand. For example, it might include the tone of voice that you use, whether you write in the first, second or third person, which words are capitalized, how certain words appear, for example, with or without a hyphen if there is the option, and more.
Some companies will combine their content guide with their overall visual branding guide, while for others, it is a separate document. Choose what works for your brand best depending on how involved the content guide is.
Why Do You Need a Content Style Policy?
These days, everybody is creating their own content. When you’re creating content for a business, doing it all yourself can be very time-consuming. So, you might have different members of staff, agencies, and freelancers working for you to create content.
To make sure that everybody is on the same page when it comes to creating content for your brand, you’ll need a set of instructions, which is where your content guidelines policy comes in. Without a style guide in place, the content that is made for your brand by different creators could be all over the place, as they will simply take advantage of the creative freedom. Even if the content is fantastic, you may simply not be getting content that is in line with your branding.
When you start scaling your content production, things can really start to get out of control if you don’t have a style guide in place. Not only does it make everything more time-consuming when it comes to planning and creating the content, but it also means that without a style guide, you might be wasting a lot of time and money getting content that is not suitable created for your brand.
Steps to Creating Content Guidelines
If you want to put together a content policy for your brand, here are some steps to follow:
- Check Out Ideas
You don’t have to create a style guide or content policy from scratch. You can base it on guides that are available online from brands like Mozilla, where you can find handy templates to use. Or, use old and trusted style guides like AP Style to get started.
- Define Your Mission
Look at your goals for your content marketing, and start working backwards from there. Your goals should be at the forefront of your style guide. For example, if your main goal is to become an authority in your niche, then a helpful and educational tone might be a must.
- Consider Your Brand Voice
It’s important to include a section on your brand voice in your content style guide. Think about how you want your content to come across to your audience. This can be very helpful for anybody who is going to be creating content for your brand, since different content creators can write very differently. Some may naturally be more formal or informal. By providing a clear guideline, they know what kind of tone you are looking for.
- Set Some Basic Rules
Since creating content does often come with a lot of creative freedom, it’s important to lay some basic ground rules so that content creators know what they should and shouldn’t do. For example, do you use emojis in your content? Are numbers written out or do you use numerals? Should they use the Oxford comma or not?
- Address the Layout
Finally, it’s a good idea to include a section on the layout of the content, especially blog posts. For example, you may want to include a rough guide on how long paragraphs should be in order to ensure that they are easy for visitors to scan and read.
A content guidelines or style policy is crucial for any business that creates and posts content online. If there are several people working on your content, clear instructions will help ensure that it’s all on-brand and consistent