Style Guide

What are your company's core values? What are the common traits of your target audience personas? Do your products or services have a unique selling proposition, USP? Does your brand connect with your key audiences beyond the delivery of specific product benefit(s)? Does your company share the affinities of your target consumers? Do your consumers evangelize your brand? The style with which your business interacts with stakeholders can build or destroy their confidence in your company. 

You can't boil the ocean. Few products, services, or brands, appeal to all market segments. Deciding to court specific audiences is not an easy call. As a business, you should welcome all consumers; however, to build a successful brand, you will most likely have to focus communication efforts on specific key audiences that share your core values and affinities. To put things another way, the style and the vernacular you use to connect to your key audiences will not always be agreeable to other viewers; but, you should welcome all consumers. Attempting to build a brand that connects with all audiences is the same as not having any key audiences. There is a distinction here between conducting business and branding. 

The goal of your company is to make genuine connections with the stakeholders that share your values. Your style of communication should be organic as it pertains to your audience, but this doesn't mean you can tweet, advertise, post or respond with complete disregard for how your messages are received. Then there is nothing disingenuous about crafting your communication so that it resonates with your key audiences. 

As human beings, we are inconsistent. One day we may feel like staying home and ordering a deep dish pizza. Other days, we will want to go out to a bar with our friends. Sometimes we'll feel justified in spending two month's of salary on a weekend trip. Other times we'll need to break our piggy bank to pay the rent. As humans, it's normal to be inconsistent in our moods and needs. For this reason, we recommend the use of a Style Guide for all brand communication. The voice of your business should not be the voice of a specific individual that manages your media channels. Your brand style of communication should be consistent across all channels, all the time. 

Professional communication is the art of creating messages that captivate specific audiences. Businesses launch on a daily basis, but few evolve into brands that resonate with particular consumer groups. At Vagary, we make the argument that the quality of communication (marketing, advertising, public relations, paid, earned, owned, etc.) is the difference between building a brand and merely selling products and services. Because your branding efforts are designed to connect with your key audiences on a deeper level than selling product benefits, your communication style should not change from quarter to quarter or year over year. The consistency of style is crucial. 

In today's complicated media landscape, your business will likely have a minimum of five marketing channels: your website, a Facebook business profile, Google Ads, Instagram, and LinkedIn. Most companies have far more channels. Having a formal communication Style Guide keeps all of your tactical channel experts on the same page. Your graphic designer, web developer, search marketer, social media guru, and your in-house photographer can have different ideas on how to communicate effectively with your key audiences. Your written Style Guide makes them all accountable to specific standards of communication. 

At Vagary, we labor over the creative elements of each effort. The process of identifying the appropriate artistic details that will represent a specific brand is a labor of passion for us. Copy, taglines, linguistic tones, colors, logos, font styles, camera angles, strategies, speaking points, captivation tactics and much more, are scrutinized for their ability to contribute to the communication goals.

The image of your business or brand is based on how your target audience filters in the incoming communication related to it. Regardless of the quality of your products or services, the perception of your business is going to be evaluated on how well you communicate. Expertise in specific media channels, or mediums, does not equate to communication expertise. Digital media platforms have come a long way in a short amount of time, enabling the ability for real-time communication, tempting practitioners to connect with their target audience too quickly. In this environment, there can be a temptation to abandon processes that render quality brand communication in favor of more busy work. Building a brand always focuses on quality over quantity. At Vagary, we help your organization remain focused on long-term goals while contributing to the management of your communication strategies.

Free speech is covered by the First Amendment in the United States; but, every country is unique in this regard. In the USA, there are few regulations for business communication content, but there are a few. Increasingly, modern media platforms are beginning to self-regulate with content rules of their own. Creating positive long-term relationships with media vehicles depends on your familiarity with their content regulations for each country of business. Your business can suffer dearly due to an infraction of the content guidelines for a specific media vehicle, like Google. These types of content mistakes can have costly consequences for a brand. 

Because of social media, and many other self-serve advertising and public relations platforms, your company needs to focus on building a brand, not just selling products and services. With today's media, anyone can contribute to the image of your company. Disgruntled employees, unsatisfied customers, business partners, suppliers, the local community, and even people that have never been your customer can participate in the social discussion about your brand. Unfortunately, research shows that your company communication efforts will have less influence on the public at large than the messages created by outside individuals. Having a formal Style Guide to help your marketing team triage feedback and communicate a consistent message about your brand or your business is crucial. Your company does not have the option of not participating in these social discussions. Quality, not quantity. 

Creating a compelling Style Guide for your organization is the result of the input from several areas of expertise: marketing, psychology, technology, design, creativity, data research, and much more. Vagary enjoys focusing on these details because we are passionate about the art of business communication. We want to put our passion to work for your company.

Vagary understands that the media landscape is dynamic. We know situations can arise that tempt your marketers to respond quickly, with consideration of long-term communication goals. Recent history is full of companies that have destroyed their brand by engaging too soon in public discussion. The process of building a brand isn't about continuous conversation or viral videos unless those efforts resonate with a key audience in mind. Building a brand is about engaging your key audiences with a consistent style that resonates with them. All your connections with your key audiences should be relevant, timely, concise, and welcome. To do this, you can't boil the ocean. You have to play favorites. 

Connect With Confidence

Vagary will help you craft a written Style Guide that helps your brand consistently convey your shared values, affinities, and beliefs with your key audiences across media channels. 

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