In this blog we’ve addressed AP style many times, however, one thing we’ve never really discussed is creating your own company style. Creating a style guide for your company is an important part of the branding process, because, believe it or not, there will be things your company deals with that may not be covered in the AP style guide.
For example, the names of products and services offered by your company will most likely not be in the AP style guide, but you will want to make sure that it is branded the same way throughout your company, including how it is spelled and what is capitalized. For argument’s sake, let’s say your company offers Awesome Product A, but in your collateral it is referred to as AWESOME PRODUCT A, awesome product a and Awesome product A. You will want to set a style guideline so that all collateral will be uniform in the way Awesome Product A is referenced.
Another important item to include in the style guide are words or phrases that should be used to describe your products and services as well as those words or phrases that should NEVER be used to reference your product. Why might this be important to your brand? Let’s say your main competitor always uses “word B” in the description of its product – so much so that their brand has become associated with this word. You will want to avoid using this word in your branding materials, so as to differentiate yourself from your competitor. In much the same way, you will want to have your own “branded words” that you can use to describe your products or services. This way, potential prospects and customers will begin to associate those words with you.
In your company style guide, you might also want to get specific as to the format in which your collateral will be presented. For example, maybe you always organize your press releases a certain way. This makes it easier for reporters following your company to find the information they need quickly and easily. Maybe you use the same background template for all of your PowerPoint presentations. This kind of uniformity gives your brand a sense of solidity and organization.
Finally, your messaging should be consistent. Every news release, every brochure and every marketing slick should all promote a unified message. This message can, and maybe should, change over time as your company grows and expands, but it is important that all collateral deliver a core message. Otherwise you could be sending conflicting messages to your publics.
In creating your company’s style guide, you may find that there are many items that you would like to include. Hopefully the above ideas will give you a good starting point from which you can start documenting your company’s unique style.