Creating a Style Guide: What it Means to Have Consistent Content

Creating a Style Guide: What it Means to Have Consistent Content

By Stephanie HawkinsMar 5 /2013
consistent content with style guide

In my first post about content style guides, I showed how they do a great job of helping companies produce consistent content. If you’re a marketer working with freelance writers or multiple in-house contributing writers, consistency can be a major issue. And as simple of a concept as it is to articulate, it’s a little harder to put into practice.

One of the biggest issues marketers face when it comes to keeping their branded content consistent is establishing a consistent brand voice. By including “rules” or “standards” for your writers in your style guide, you can help them make your voice their own. Do your best to make these standards as concrete as possible and include examples when applicable. To illustrate, we’ll take a look at some examples of content from our very own Kuno blog—and how a few small steps in the wrong direction can completely alter the consistency.

Kuno’s Blog Style is...

Like This...

...Not Like This


“[A/B] Testing allows us to make decisions based on concrete data rather than gut instincts.”1

“A/B Testing, which compares two versions of your marketing to identify which one is more effective, allows us to make decisions based on concrete data rather than gut instincts.” 


“You give people plenty of ways to contact you about a purchase, right? And they don’t call. They don’t email either. What’s the problem?”2

“Sometimes companies do everything they can to get potential customers to contact them, but they still don’t.”


“There are myths out there that video is expensive and only for large companies. It is seen as a complex and highly specialized form of marketing when, in fact, it can be done by anybody.”3

“Think your company is too small to make a video? Holy cow, you couldn’t be more wrong. You can totally do it—anyone can!”

"4 Ways to Test Your Email Marketing Beyond the Subject Line” by Shannon Fuldauer
2 "Enterprise Inbound Marketing Process: Lead Nurturing” by John McTigue
3 "3 Tips to Create a Video From a Completed Blog Post” by Dan Romanski

Let’s break all of that down. In the “like this” column, we have quotes from actual Kuno blog posts. In the “not like this” column, we’ve imagined how a hypothetical writer who wasn’t as familiar with our content style might have interpreted our style.

Since we have almost 20 writers who contribute to Kuno’s blog, consistency is important to us. Imagine this scenario: a new writer asks us about our content style. We say “informative, accessible, and enthusiastic.” Sounds good, right? Well, sure, but those qualities can be difficult to execute without concrete examples. So, here’s what we have.

  • Informative: In this column, we take a short quote from Shannon’s post that explains the benefits of A/B testing. Our hypothetical writer might have assumed in order for Kuno’s blog to be informative, she’d need to include definitions and explanations of each concept we’re discussing. However, since Shannon is familiar with Kuno’s content style, she knows our readers well enough to understand the level of background knowledge they’re bringing to the table.
    • Style Guide tip: Consider including the level of previous knowledge you can expect your audience to have to avoid being repetitive.
  • Accessible: John’s quote is a great example of what we mean when we refer to your company’s conversational voice. In his post on lead nurturing, John directly addresses his audience, immediately engaging them in conversation by using the pronoun “you.” In the “not like this” column, the hypothetical writer has shifted the tone to a more formal, less personal approach to deliver the same information. Our style at Kuno aims to connect with our reader, which you might have noticed by now. (See what we did there?)
    • Style Guide tip: Establishing standards of conversational tone can be crucial in maintaining a consistent voice. Consider aspects like point-of-view, pronoun usage and rhetorical questions.
  • Enthusiastic: In this example, Dan is able to express enthusiasm for the accessibility of video creation without resorting to the holy cows and totallys of our hypothetical writer. While those exclamations clearly show enthusiasm, there’s an important distinction between them and the type of enthusiasm Kuno seeks to put forth. Your company might embrace the OMGs of the world, but it's something you’d want to make clear in your style guide.
    • Style Guide tip: Make clear what colloquialisms are embraced in your content style and which are pushing the limits. Giving examples would be especially helpful in this instance.

Establishing content consistency can certainly be difficult, but with a detailed style guide, you can be well on your way to helping your writers find your company’s voice. Stay tuned for more style guide posts as we go into more detail about what should be included in your style guide and offer some examples of successful style guides.  

stephanie kaperaStephanie Kapera is a freelance writer and the co-founder of Up All Night Creative, a Raleigh-based content marketing agency that helps B2B and B2C companies develop magazine-quality web content. Connect with Up All Night on LinkedIn and Twitter to find out more!

Personalized Content: Generate More Revenue with a Dynamic Web Experience
photo credit: UGArdener
The Author

Stephanie Hawkins

Stephanie has 10+ years of experience creating quality content for innovative software and healthcare companies. She is passionate about using interviews and journalistic techniques to create content that truly resonates with target audiences. Stephanie lives and works in Raleigh, NC.