Many companies have several employees who regularly contribute posts to the company blog. But how do you make sure that all of your bloggers are “on the same page” when it comes to frequently used terms, corporate lingo, and tone?
I copy edit blog posts for several clients, and I recommend the use of a “Brand Style Guide” that can either be distributed to all of the bloggers, or simply used by the copy editor (whose job it is to ensure consistency throughout all of the company’s marketing text – both digital and print).
What goes into the style guide? Here are a few of the things I regularly include for my clients, and which I highly recommend if you want to start setting up a style guide for your own company.
Company Name, Acronym, Nickname
The first mention of the company’s name in any blog post should be as the full name. This is for the benefit of anyone who finds your company for the first time via this blog post. For instance, if you are a trade association, the first mention of your association should be the complete name (e.g., U.S. Blog Posters Association), followed by the acronym or nickname in parenthesis, so that the reader understands how it will be referred to for the rest of the text.
Also make sure that bloggers know exactly how to capitalize and format (italicize or bold) the company name. If your business name consists of two words, are both words capitalized? Is one of them italicized?
Frequently Used Terms and Punctuation Rules
Every industry has its own jargon, its own internalized compendium of frequently used terms. When I worked for an energy-related trade association, I meticulously copy edited text to ensure that certain terms were always written the same way (e.g., 5-kW systems vs. 5 kW systems, based on use as an adjective or verb).
Does the company use the serial (Oxford) comma in punctuating a list containing three or more items? Do they use British spellings, or American English spellings for words such as color/colour and organize/organise? Will they refer to Jones’s features or Jones’ features?
A style guide can even help bloggers understand how to be consistent with the company’s tone in communicating with current and potential customers. One of my clients briefed me ahead of time on the company’s desired tone, so that I would understand how to edit blog posts without removing the casual, friendly tone they wanted.
I appreciated the note because much of my previous experience had been for businesses that took a more formal tone in their communications. I didn’t want to edit all the personality out of my new client’s blog posts.
Once you’ve set up a Brand Style Guide, give a copy to everyone who will be blogging for your company. Make sure they understand these things as part of the blogging process so that you don’t have to keep fixing the same mistake over and over as you review each new post. A Brand Style Guide will save time for your bloggers and for your freelance contractors.
If you want more info on how to create and maintain a brand image for your business using a Brand Style Guide – complete with a template and step-by-step instructions to keep you consistent in all of your marketing materials – check out my book, Branding for Beginners.