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A style guide helps clarify a company's voice, look, and identity. In this course, Nigel French explains the components that make a style guide—sometimes called a branding guidelines book. The course shows the importance of the style guide for maintaining logo integrity, a unified voice, and consistent use of typography, color, and imagery.
In this chapter, I'm going to drill down to the various different sections of the style guide. The purpose of the position statement is to make explicit where your business stands in relation to its competitors without saying anything negative about your competitors. What's the status of your business within its industry? Is it new, established, innovative, pioneering? This should be short, and its tone in keeping with whatever tone you've adopted as your brand voice.
Not everyone using your style guide will be as familiar with the brand as you are. The position statement is your opportunity to clue them in on what your company is all about. The style guide is not just about maintaining a consistent look, but also about maintaining a consistent tone. The tone of your written communication plays a significant part in developing your brand's style. Your style guard should be an example of the writing tone you use, but it's also worth spelling it out.
In the example of the Roux Academy, the style should be plain-spoken, without unnecessary jargon. Adjectives and the adverbs should be used sparingly. The voice should be friendly and approachable, but not overly familiar or chatty. In deciding what's an appropriate tone for your brand, it might be helpful to visualize who you're talking to. How would you address that person in conversation? Whatever you decide upon, that tone should be used consistently across all your written communications: hard-copy letters, emails, social media postings.
In considering the writing tone, you should also consider the importance of a style manual. Do you use initial caps for headings and subheadings, or is everything in sentence case? Do you use em dashes or en dashes for a long dash? Do you put a period after mister or missus? It's not necessary to create your own style manual; you can adopt an existing one. The Roux Academy uses the Chicago Manual of Style. For any areas of grammatical or writing style ambiguity there is an established reference to consult.
If there are any brands-specific terms that differ from or are not addressed by the style manual, you can address them here.
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