The way that people interact with brands is evolving. It’s about much more than driving a purchase. Consumers expect brands to have a voice and represent values. Whether someone is going to swipe right on your brand is entirely up to how well that brand can authentically connect with them (did you like that Tinder reference? We’ll get back to it).
Marketers’ jobs have become more demanding in our increasingly unforgiving cultural climate alongside the rise of social media and demand for infinite content. Everything is under a magnifying glass and it’s up to communicators to ensure messages are effectively targeting the right audiences.
While there are many different ways to connect with specific audiences, a brand’s voice oversees the whole show. Brands must be cohesive. It doesn’t matter if you’re speaking to Boomers or Centennials (the newer, hipper millennials), you must ensure content is written and edited in a way that connects to your audience and connects each post to the next. That way nobody is jarred by a particularly off-brand phrase, reference or tone (like a Tinder joke on a professional services blog post).
As the demand for content continues to rise, it’s becoming increasingly common for teams to run and coordinate content (website, blog, social media, etc.). While some companies opt for in-house staff, others outsource to agencies and freelancers to get the work done. Regardless of the method, one thing is inevitable – multiple people will be writing content.
Styleguides keep your content on-brand
Now, it’s not an issue for different people to contribute to the same brand, but it is crucial that content appears to come from a single source. We all write differently, and that’s okay. While you might prefer formal writing, strictly adhering to the Canadian Press style, it’s not the voice every brand uses. Same goes for the more casual, Oxford-comma-eradicating approach that many light-hearted brands strive for. As a writer, whether in-house or freelance, it’s your job to adhere to a brand’s style guide the best you can. If they don’t want Oxford commas, you don’t want them. If they don’t capitalize a word you know damn-well shouldn’t be capitalized, don’t capitalize it. It can be challenging to go against your instincts, but it’s your job to provide what’s asked for. For organizations, it’s vital to live and breathe your brand’s style guide. Educate new hires as early as possible and provide every freelancer with the needs to write accurate copy. Failing to do so will only lead to poorly-written, error-ridden work and the additional time it takes to edit everything.
Even with a killer style guide, it’s vital to appoint an editor – the person responsible for collecting and vetting content before sending, sharing or posting a single word. Editing is standard practice, but having a single person in charge streamlines the process and ensures everything, regardless of its source, sounds consistent. A talented editor knows their brand inside and out and quickly edits staff-written or outsourced work with ease. Without this critical step, organizations risk muddling their brand voice, confusing their customers and slowing growth over time.
As brands improve their visibility, it becomes more difficult for others to break through the noise, which leaves them at risk of falling too far behind to catch up. If you need help developing cohesive brand and style guidelines, we’re here to help. We’ve helped many Manitoba companies create powerhouse brands and online visibility from scratch, and we’d be thrilled to help you too.