12 March 2020

All About Content Guidelines: The What, How, and Why

We might be biased, but we truly believe that solid content guidelines create the perfect foundation for any great brand.

Don’t get us wrong— nothing beats show-stopping design. But it’s not everything.

Design is just one half of the equation. The rest comes down to your brand’s unique way of communicating.

Through the many brand stories we’ve put together, we’ve frequently been asked about the practical applications. What’s the middle step between receiving a beautifully-crafted manual for content and seeing a tangible impact on your brand’s reputation?

That’s exactly the question we’re going to answer today.

What Are Content Guidelines?

Your content guidelines are your blueprint to understanding who you are internally, and how to best communicate that to your audience.

Think of your brand as a person. That’s how your audience wants to see it. What’s your brand’s personality? Its undeniable truth? Its reason for existing? Content guidelines showcase all of this and more.

Pretty cool, right? But perhaps it might be more effective to talk about what content guidelines are not.

Content guidelines not:

  • A timeline detailing your brand’s history from beginning to now
  • A public-facing document, such as a physical brochure or a downloadable PDF that sits on your website
  • An actual fictional story with fantastical characters and epic adventures (sorry)

As you can see, content guidelines are more of a “who, what, why, how” of your brand that helps to guide your internal team and shape how you’re perceived by the outside world. Which, in our opinion, is way better than any fictional tale.

So What Am I Supposed to Do With It?

This rulebook isn’t merely a nicely written document. It’s designed to do more than just impress. It’s supposed to have an impact out in the wild, whether that’s your website, your social media, or your employee handbook.

While we never recommend handing out your content guidelines to clients or having it handy to show anyone who steps foot into your business, you should take as much as you can from it to use, well, wherever you can. After all, it’s supposed to represent the crux of your brand’s identity.

“Content guidelines aren’t just nice to have. It’s a branding essential absolutely brimming with hidden benefits.”

What does this look like? You could utilise your content guidelines to help write your website content, as well as that social media bio and captions. Key messages can be used over and over to answer common customer queries. The values and tone of voice sections are invaluable in aligning your team members and training new ones.

And that elevator pitch everyone struggles with? We’ve got it covered. You’ll never again struggle to explain your brand in 25 words or less.

What Content Guidelines Can Do for Your Brand

The biggest mistake we see people make when considering content guidelines is underestimating their importance. It isn’t just nice to have. It’s a branding essential absolutely brimming with hidden benefits.

We’ve spoken many times about the importance of having a defined and consistent brand identity. How your brand speaks and acts are imperative to this. Content guidelines are essentially your brand bible— an outline of exactly how those things are executed.

“That elevator pitch everyone struggles with? We’ve got it covered. You’ll never again struggle to explain your brand in 25 words or less.”

And when your brand is always on point in its presentation, that brand personality and unique positioning point are strengthened over and over. That’s something your audience will remember (and your competitors won’t be able to forget).

Just check out these recent examples of brands who are absolutely killing it with consistent brand identity and authenticity. They’re each fairly different, but they all have one thing in common: the way they express themselves uniquely and consistently sets them apart from their competitors.

Ready to make your brand stand out? Get in touch with the branding team at Bellman and see how our copywriters can craft you the perfect content.

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