Creating a corporate style guide isn't just an administrative task. When you take on the task you're decreeing how your company will be seen by the outside world. Are you friendly, professional, exact, entrepreneurial or a mix of all of them? Do you go online, on line, or on-line? Here are eight important areas to think about while you're creating a corporate style guide that reflects your business's priorities:
- Expressing yourself. The way your company expresses itself is a key part of the style guide. This covers issues like whether you talk to "you" or "he," or whether your style of expression is formal or casual. More than just defining your preferred tone, creating a corporate style guide also requires lots of examples for its readers to get a clear understanding.
- Leveraging your brand. Part of your style is how you describe your company, use its slogans, and display your logo.
- Additional sources. Your style manual probably won't be exhaustive. Providing your preferred style guides, like the Associated Press Stylebook or Chicago Manual of Style, and a dictionary or thesaurus puts everyone on the same page.
- Grammar, syntax and construction. Style guides help maintain consistency in small grammar and syntactical issues. While the length of a dash or whether you use an Oxford comma may seem unimportant, inconsistency creates a sense of unprofessionalism.
- Standardized formatting. To create consistent documents, your team looks to your style guide to see if they should write "nine" or "9" and when bulleted lists should end with periods, semicolons, or nothing.
- Unique words. For some companies, creating a corporate style guide starts and ends with the word list. Your style guide defines if you send "email" or "e-Mail" about your new "backup" or "back up" system.
- Using company IP. Your company's intellectual property, like its product names, are part of its brand, and your style guide defines how it gets used.
- Writing online. No modern style guide is complete without additional guidance on how to write emails , Facebook status updates, and Twitter posts. Search engine optimization standards also belong in the guide.