Man uses a content style guide to write website copy, photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters on Unsplash
Ten seconds.

That’s how long it takes potential customers to form a first impression of your company. Making good first impressions is essential. When your customers have a bad experience using your website or receive an unprofessional email from your company, it can make them think twice about doing business with your company.

Establishing a consistent identity and voice matter more than anything else in those initial seconds. Make sure all of your company’s marketing fits the impression you want to make by creating (and using) a content style guide.

Keep reading to learn more about how to create a killer content style guide for your company.

Think about what makes your company special

How can your business solve customers’ needs? What services or products are you providing? Why are you providing them? Why would a customer choose your company over a competitor?

Businesses, particularly small- and medium-sized enterprises, often develop marketing that feels generic or only talks about their services or products.

Take, for example, Moosejaw, a retailer that makes high-end clothing for outdoor expeditions. In early December, they posted an on-brand tweet that read, “Don’t forget to take a minute this weekend to appreciate the break between Thanksgiving family obligations and Christmas family obligations. This is the eye of the storm, folks.”
How many companies post generic holiday messages on their social media profiles? Customers breeze through those generic tweets and Facebook posts without giving them a second look.

Moosejaw’s tweet stands out because it matches the company’s brand voice. The tweet conveys a real sense of humorous irreverence for the holidays and is full of personality. It’s a “win” for the company, catching the attention of their target audience and potential new customers.

You don’t have to run your social media profiles like a stand-up comedian to develop a meaningful relationship with customers. However, you do have to create content that provides value and matches your brand voice.

To that end, a style guide can help you cultivate relationships with your audience, building emotional engagement and loyalty within your customer base.
Ten seconds. That’s how long it takes potential customers to form a first impression of your company.Tweet this

Create a killer content style guide

Start by asking these questions:
  • What are three adjectives that define your company?
  • Which human attributes or characteristics does your company embody?
  • How would your target audience describe your company?
  • What is your company’s level of sophistication?
  • How does your company convey excitement or sincerity?
For every business, the answers to these questions will be different. Companies like Dollar Shave Club and Moosejaw, for example, connect with their customers using irreverent, humor-based marketing. On the other hand, Tiffany & Co. markets to their customers using more sophisticated content.

Have your copywriting team experiment with slogans or short blogs and social media posts until you land on a “brand voice” that authentically represents your company.

Stuck? Go to the source. Consider conducting interviews with your current customers for insights. Ask them why they’re drawn to your company and how they would describe your product or services.

Content style guide must-haves

Copy do’s and don’ts: Make sure your content style guide includes your company’s preferences for things like punctuation, title formatting, and more. For example, our internal style guide includes notes for specifics that we use the serial comma and sentence case for headlines and subheadings.

Writing samples: Help your freelancers and new hires get a sense of your brand voice by having examples of content on-hand.

Content templates: Have a big marketing team? Creating content templates for any marketing work that your company produces regularly will help keep everyone—from writers to designers—stay on the same page.

Not convinced your website copy and digital marketing fit your company’s voice? TBH Creative can help. We specialize in helping clients reach their marketing goals with content that effectively communicates to their customers and partners.

Need help creating a content style guide? Let’s talk
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