Keep your brand consistent with style guides and tone of voice documents

There are various ways to help keep your brand consistent. When doing branding work we always create a brand guideline document, which include things like colour palettes, typography, and any other elements of branded design that a company can share among its employees.

Written content

When various people might be writing for the same company, and for different platforms or purposes, it’s often hard to keep everything sounding consistent. Many brands find a set of guidelines that detail a ‘brand voice’ extremely helpful to regain consistency and promote their brand’s desired personality.

Style guide

noun
  1. a manual detailing the house style of a particular publisher, publication, etc.

A style guide is a set of guidelines that act as a reference for employees to follow when producing written content where multiple possibilities might exist, including common mis-spellings or mis-pronounciations, as well as English vs. American English.

The Guardian’s style guide is widely used by many companies as it’s thorough and typically the most sensible option. For example, The Guardian tells its journalists and editors to use ‘A*’ and not ‘A star’. Instead of ‘mankind’, writers are given the suggestions of ‘humankind’ or ‘humanity’. When writing about mental health,¬† ” ‘a person with’ is clear, accurate and preferable to ‘a person suffering from’. ”

The Guardian Style Guide
There is no hyphen in zigzag. At least not for The Guardian’s journalists.

Having a common guide that multiple people can go from allows your company to express itself through various ways (published content, email marketing, print, etc.), all in a similar style, from which familiarity can grow. A style guide can also include a bank of useful words that can be used (sporadically of course).

A similar document is used to explore the tone that your content should be written in. It deciphers what your brand’s personality should be, and how it should portray itself. This is called a Tone of Voice document, and works closely with a Style Guide.

Tone of Voice document

noun

  1. a document detailing the tone in which writers publishing on behalf of the brand should use

We often produce tone of voice documents for our clients. We look at the target market and actual customers, competitors, and the brand’s ethos – who does the brand want to be, who is it serving, and how does it want to be portrayed, are just some of the questions we consider when creating tone of voice documents. A good tone of voice doc helps create a sense of familiarity with a brand’s audience by injecting personality into the written content.

We often explain key things a brand is, or wants to be, alongside key things the brand isn’t.

Example 1

Your brand is sophisticated, expressive, and forward thinking.

Your brand isn’t clich√©-ridden, high street, or simplistic.

Example 2

Your brand is qualified, dedicated, proactive, and approachable.

Your brand isn’t light hearted, condescending, over familiar, or vague.

This helps define exactly who the brand is, which will help anyone writing content for, or on behalf of, the brand. We also include examples of each writing style so you can see it in context. It’s useful to look back on the guidelines every few months to remind yourself of who you are writing for, and to ensure your copy remains consistent.

Happy writing!

Jess
A Marvellous blog by Jess

Jess is our Account Manager and Copywriter (who also helps out with Digital Marketing!). She loves reading, writing, research, and list making. Outside the studio she is often found getting overly excited when a dog comes into the pub, or when there's a new series to binge watch on Netflix.

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