Craft a successful content style guide for your brand

Learn about content style guides, what they’re for, and how they benefit businesses. After finishing this article, you will be ready to create one on your own!

Reading Time6 minutes

Why should a website/web app/app have its own content style guide?

We accumulated lots of knowledge over the previous years of our work with many satisfied clients, so we indeed can answer that question. Keep on reading to find out and get some of the best practices on how you can create one on your own, as well as refresh your brand’s personality, along with making it even more visible.

What is a Content style guide (CSG)?

CSG can be of use to various fields in industries, for example, digital marketing, PR, legal, education, non-profit, and government. However, we will focus on CSG’s importance to branding and its identity, that is, the digital product design in the IT industry.

In a nutshell, we’re talking about an easy-to-understand set of writing principles of a brand that includes language and tone used in product content, a.k.a, how the brand is expressed through written content. These guidelines firmly support the maintenance of a uniform voice throughout the product and also play an important role in shaping the brand’s unique personality.

The benefits of creating CSG for your own brand

  • Consistency

Content inconsistency is dangerous because it can confuse the audience, undermine the brand’s credibility, lead to loss of engagement, or damage the brand's reputation. To maintain audience engagement, build trust, and retain existing customers or attract new clients, it's essential to use consistent language.

  • Brand identity

Creating this guide helps you establish your brand’s identity via tone and voice, writing styles, vocabulary, and values. Every brand has a story, so you can think of CSG as its narrator.

  • Clarity and comprehension

The audience relies on content that is easy to understand and easily followed while being read. The key benefit here is knowing what message your brand is trying to convey, and that is gained during a CSG creation process. When you clearly understand what you want your audience to comprehend, you have established the credibility of your brand and know in which way to improve it constantly. 

  • Better user experience

When users encounter well-organized and clear content, the web’s usability is overall enhanced. That way, your audience will find it more effective and enjoyable to interact with your brand.

  • Content marketing

This is an important point because content marketing means promotion, and promotion means brand recognition and audience engagement. Using SEO techniques also helps content marketers maintain a strong and credible online presence of their brand.

  • Team cross-collaboration

CSG serves as a valuable resource for your team and as it promotes consistency in writing and language overall, it streamlines communication and provides comprehensive guidelines for content creation. It’s not just that your team works together seamlessly, but they also produce content of high quality. 

  • Online visibility

That involves content marketing and SEO, and it’s important to mention that these practices ultimately increase the online visibility and reach of your brand. 

  • Professionality 

CSG ensures that the brand's image is maintained consistently across various platforms and that the brand is recognized for its values and identity, ultimately enhancing its professional reputation.

Do it yourself!

Voice and tone

Voice

With your brand’s voice, you are telling your customers what to think about the brand. It is unique and consistent, and it communicates your brand’s values. It includes the language you use, choice of words, and style of communication. If your brand’s voice is well-defined, it will be relatable enough for your customers to connect with it. For example, your voice can be formal, informal, friendly, serious, etc.

Tone

Generally, it’s a subset of your brand’s voice. It’s an attitude or an emotion you can convey while communicating. It adapts the brand’s voice, meaning it varies depending on the context and the audience. For example, the tone might be more serious when replying to a customer’s complaint, but a lot more “excited” when sending a newsletter (new features, offers, etc.).

Just a small tip: Before you move on to the voice and tone of your brand, you can also explain what your writing goals are to the audience. Do you want your customers to be motivated? Or perhaps educated? In order to accomplish that, how will the content be written - possibly clear and simple? Or will it maybe draw emotion with the warm and inspirational turn of phrase? 

Style

In a nutshell, your content’s style is all about what your content looks like. It includes formatting, punctuation, grammar, etc. Keep in mind that the style of your content exists not only for your teammates but for your audience and their preferences as well. Style matters for your writing style, for example, whether you use sentence case or title case, or you decide to use American/British grammar, etc.

Vocabulary

It’s a great idea to include a list of the most commonly used words or phrases related to your brand. Your customers will not only improve their ability to navigate your website or app but also gain a more profound understanding of your brand and the broader industry it operates within.

Here is an excellent example of a word list included in a financial platform's content design system that includes explanations and important links. 

Inclusive language

Firstly, let’s explain what inclusive language is. It is free from words, phrases, and tones that convey biased, stereotypical, or discriminatory perspectives toward specific individuals or groups of people. Therefore, it’s highly advisable to have that category in your guide. For example, it’s great to sort out which phrases or words should be used instead of inadequate ones: “I’d rather say expert than guru when I’m talking about a professional in their field.”

Web elements and various types of content

This chapter is particularly interesting: some websites and apps have included explanations of how they write different documentation, tutorials, legal documents, and content for their newsletters, social media, blogs, etc. Also, you can add general explanations of the web elements you use on the UI: CTAs, forms, headings, or alt text. If you want to see what it looks like in practice, check out Mailchimp’s content style guide.

That’s all!

Keep in mind that every content style guide looks different and that its elements vary according to the brand’s true purpose and the industry it is a part of. When you write your own guide, you can switch some of the given advice with another piece of information that is important for your brand’s CSG. 

Whatever you decide on doing, before you start “crafting”, define your brand’s goals and purpose, and then make a structure of your guide’s content. The writing becomes as easy as a feather once you have defined brand strategy.

The time invested in creating your CSG will return manifold. Say goodbye to sloppy sentences, mixed-up messages, and inconsistent formatting - ensure your key messages are effectively communicated.

Hey, you! What do you think?

They say knowledge has power only if you pass it on - we hope our blog post gave you valuable insight.

If you want to share your experience with the creation of a content style guide for your own project, or perhaps would like us to create one for your brand, feel free to contact us

We'd love to hear what you have to say!