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Do you need a style guide?

Many small businesses consider a ‘style guide’ to be unnecessary, because all the marketing material comes through one person and will (probably) be pretty consistent. That person’s style is that of the business.

Larger businesses should certainly consider having one but there is a good reason to create a style guide regardless of the number of people involved. Our successors will thank us for it, of course, but even if we don’t care about them, it’s something we can take with us when we go. Just as importantly however, creating a style guide makes us think about how and why we do things the way we do.

A good style guide isn’t something we sit down and write. Start with a few notes, for sure, but it’s probably something best created by growing it over months and even years. Those notes can be compiled into a formal document some way down the line.

The guide won’t just be to do with the minutiae of logo colours or spelling conventions, either. It should contain evolving definitions of the business description, its values and objectives; the audience it’s addressing; the brand voice; and the company’s differentiators.

As the excellent Mailchimp Style Guide says, “Our company style guide …helps us write clear and consistent content across teams and channels.”

That’s something we should all want to do.