Why You Definitely Need Brand Content Guidelines
Plus The 8 Key Elements to Creating Yours
When it comes to owning a small business, you have to be good at wearing multiple hats and juggling multiple job titles. And oftentimes in a small business, your employees also get thrown into the exciting world of owning multiple roles. It’s great to have people on your team who can jump in wherever it’s needed, especially when it comes to marketing and social media! But, there are also challenges that come with having employees step into multiple roles.
If more than one person is writing your social media captions, blogs, and email marketing content, it’s important to establish content guidelines to make sure all of your content has a cohesive voice.
Why is a Cohesive Brand Voice Important?
If your content lacks a cohesive voice, you may be creating brand confusion or unintentionally coming across as inauthentic to readers. People want to connect to a brand in a personal way, so if your content feels disjointed or fragmented, your audience may not be able to figure out how to really connect to the “face behind the screen” and fully get on board.
Enter: Content Marketing Guidelines
A great brand feels like a friend you can connect with, and every brand wants to connect with their audience in a meaningful way! So if the person writing your brand content is inconsistent, don’t worry; this can be easily fixed with content guidelines!
Content marketing guidelines may be extensive for certain brands, while for others, it could simply be a one-page reference sheet. The depth of your brand content guidelines will depend on your content and your brand goals.
The 8 Elements Of Great Content Guidelines
1. Audience— The first and most important step when creating content guidelines is establishing who your target audience/market is. What do they like? How do they speak? How do they want to be spoken to?
2. Tone— Do you want your content written in first or third person? Would you like your blog posts, captions, and articles more fun and playful, authoritative, professional, or conversational?
3. Style— Do you follow AP or MLA style? List all of your grammatical preferences. (Oxford comma, anyone?)
4. Keywords— Create a list of main brand keywords and/or ideas that should be included or pulled from for content inspiration and overall brand voice.
5. Headlines— Make sure your content writers know the end result you desire and the action steps you want readers to take so they can include it within their blog titles or email headlines.
6. Copy Organization— Your readers are busy and have short attention spans, so it’s important to teach your writers how to create multiple section headlines in the copy for your audience to keep interested. Set guidelines for section titles, bullets, numbered lists, emojis, and paragraph headers that will keep re-engaging the reader on each platform.
7. Calls to Action— Make a list of go-to CTAs that can be dropped at the end of blogs, emails, or captions to inform your readers of next steps.
8. Internal Approval Process— Detail deadlines, timelines, how writers should submit their content, and what the process is for editing and approval.
It’s important to remember that nothing you create is set in stone— and it shouldn’t be! If things aren’t working, or you aren’t getting any engagement on what you keep putting out, switch it up. Just like any good brand, your content marketing guidelines will (and should) evolve over time.
And as always, we’re here to help! If you want help with creating your brand content guidelines, consulting with your writers, or even managing your content creation, we’d love to talk!