Your company is getting bigger, and you run into a problem. You have brand requirements, logos, specific colors to use. But increasingly, you notice variations in how your brand’s content is presented. Your print materials come across as highly formal while your social media posts and videos sound casual and friendly. Soon, you start attracting customers who aren’t in your target market. This may be a good thing! Or, more commonly, your team wastes time vetting leads that get you nowhere.
When hiring people (new hires, vendors, and consultants), it’s important to remember that all of the content we create—emails, web copy, podcasts, and videos—should follow the same house style.
Yes, selecting style manuals (AP Style, Chicago) helps, but an in-house style guide, as well as project-specific style sheets, are what create your brand’s voice. Custom house and project style guide include clarification and direction on how to handle jargon, bias, idioms, specific terms, acronyms, spellings, and more.
Why Create a Style Manual?
When there are multiple people working toward the same goal, they all need the same information to base everything off! So, if you have a large company with branding/legal requirements, or if you have multiple assets created by different people, style manuals help move everything along properly and succinctly. It is important to have a consistent style between the written word just as much as the artwork (logos, colors, etc).
How to Create an In-House Style Manual
An “In-House Style Manual” is a “Project Style Sheet” on steroids (more on that below!), because instead of creating a brand voice for a specific project, like with a style sheet, an in-house style manual is used for everything any type of communication your company creates. An in-house style manual will help support your brand, legal requirements, and customer needs.
Things to consider including in your style manual:
What Are Custom Project Style Sheets?
A custom project style sheet helps with accuracy and consistency through a project from start to finish. Everyone on the project can use it, but it can also be used to train new team members!
If you already have a general or in-house style manual, a project style sheet will explain deviations from the norm. They also are especially helpful if you create materials for different clients. One client may prefer a professional, informative voice, while another may keep it casual. Project style sheets make sure you don’t make Client A sound like Client Z!
Style sheets work best if they care created early in a project or even before a project starts. If there are multiple contributors or multiple parts to the project, having a style sheet early ensures that the goals and consistency are maintained from start to finish.
Custom project style sheets often include:
At Dream Write Creative, we can help you create your custom in-house style guides and custom style sheets with great aplomb. Please CONTACT US to get a quote and schedule your first strategy session.