‘Style to be good must be clear. Clearness is secured by using words that are current and ordinary.’
A style guide is a set of standards for writing and designing documents for a specific publication, organization, or field. It helps you write clear, consistent content for your organization across teams and channels. This way, graphic designers, marketers, web developers, community managers, and even product packaging departments all stay on the same page, and present a unified vision of the brand to the public.
We’ve compiled a few things you may want to consider when creating a style guide for your brand.
Start by specifying clearly which country or countries you want to target with your content, and consider the many variants or dialects. While most speakers of the local variation can comprehend the main language, others may not understand them, and they would know in an instant that the text was not written or addressed to them. English, French, Spanish, Arabic and Chinese are just a few examples of languages that may have significant differences in grammar, spelling and syntax across the several variants.
One of the most important things you need to set for your brand is your voice and tone. Think of three adjectives that define your brand. Human characteristics as if you were describing a person. Is it friendly, casual and fun or serious, straightforward and helpful? Also think about your target audience. This will help you establish whether slang or jargon should be avoided and what the best way to address the user is.
Numbers, dates and currencies
Define your preferred format for the use of numbers across your content. Numbers can be used to refer to quantities, dates or perhaps a sum of money. It’s important to use the same rule consistently for each case. Each language will have its own rules regarding decimal separators for instance, time formats and dates. You can decide, however, if you want numbers spelled out at the beginning of sentences. As to dates, you can also choose to have them spelled out (e.g. Thursday, January 18) or abbreviated (e.g. DD/MM/YYYY, YYYY/MM/DD). If you need to include sums of money, decide if you want to use foreign exchange abbreviations (EUR, USD) or currency symbols (€, $) and whether you want them to be placed before or after the number itself.
Wordlist and common mistakes
For words that may have ambiguous spelling or that are frequently misspelled, it’s useful to create a wordlist to set your preferred way of using them in your brand content. Username, URL, website, WiFi and email are just some examples. You can take this opportunity to define some formatting rules, such as capitalization and use of italics and hyphenation. It’s also helpful to include a list of words or expressions to avoid, and some clear examples of what you do not want to see in your brand’s content.
We hope this will help you create a clear and helpful style guide to highlight the consistency of your brand. Also, if you’re writing content that is supposed to be translated into several languages, this article may be useful to you.