In the realm of corporate branding, presentation is absolutely critical. When it comes to marketing or promotional materials, amateurish execution, or outright errors, can immediately extinguish any interest in your business. Not only does it appear unprofessional, it makes prospective customers wonder about quality control. If a company can’t get a simple thing like basic marketing copy right, can it really be trusted to handle your business?
These concerns extend well beyond typos and clumsy sentences — even fairly well-written copy can turn off customers if it lacks consistency. Unfortunately, the lack of a unified, consistent authorial voice is a problem that plagues many growing companies.
There is, however, a fairly straightforward solution: the creation of a comprehensive style guide.
What is a company style guide?
A company style guide is very similar to the style guides reporters use to ensure all the copy in a newspaper is presented in a consistent fashion. Even though a newspaper might have dozens of reporters, they all refer to the style guide when questions of preferred spelling, grammar and style arise.
Company style guides incorporate these basic rules and take them a step further. Instead of focusing merely on spelling and style, company guides help establish the voice and presentation of the brand. Style guides cover elements such as fonts, logos, colors, copywriting rules, brand philosophy, vision and voice.
Why is a company style guide so important?
Company style guides help create a unified style and voice for that particular brand. This promotes consistency; as the company grows and more workers are added, the style guide ensures that all of their contributions are communicated using a single corporate voice. In essence, even though dozens of people may be working on marketing or promotional materials, it should all sound like the work of one person.
This is important because inconsistency in presentation is extremely jarring and off putting to potential customers. We are accustomed to companies speaking with a unified style and voice, so the lack of the cohesion is easy to spot. Additionally, consistency breeds clarity. Customers expect to encounter a firm, authoritative company voice when they are shopping for goods or services.
A company style guide also minimizes errors, and prevents employees from departing from the tone and voice the company has established. One look at the countless number of companies who have courted controversy with poorly-executed social media activity shows the value of clear and constant brand voice.
Efficiency is another key benefit of developing a company style guide. A style guide serves as a master document, something that can easily be referred to any time a question is raised. An authoritative style guide can resolve questions immediately, and provides employees with a resource that can always be tapped.
Finally, a style guide is also a living document. It can be revised and built upon as a business grows and changes. It also offers a window into a company’s history — a look at how branding and voice has evolved over time.
Style guides are critically important resources that help businesses establish and maintain a consistent and authoritative brand voice. By developing a guide, you can enhance the professionalism — and ultimately the effectiveness — of your marketing efforts.
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