What's your style?

Developing a consistent style can help your business, but how far should you go?
The words you write have a massive impact. The words you write for your business are a record of what that business is – its values and personality – and should capture the very heart of what you do.

A ‘house style’ is a series of rules that, combined, are distinctly yours. They can be quite specific grammar and spelling preferences, e.g. no Americanised spelling (a personal bugbear of mine!) or more general, e.g. the ‘tone’ of voice used.

I’ve worked in businesses with a very strict house style – where rules govern every word you write on the page, to those with a more fluid, often vague, ‘sense’ of how they would like their work to be written.

I like to think there’s a happy medium. Where style is clearly defined but flexibility is allowed if the topic or particular project needs it. I’ve worked on many projects where the ‘brand police’ have stopped us going in a certain direction as it doesn’t follow the brand guidelines for the company to the detriment of the final product. However, I’ve also worked on projects that were crying out for consistency – where every piece of writing came from a different voice and that rings alarm bells. If the business doesn’t appear to be in harmony on the outside (marketing copy, web copy, etc.) then what does that say about the state of the business behind the scenes?

For me, the main goal of a house style is to create a consistent voice. A voice that is undeniably yours. This requires some rules, of course, and how many rules is really up to you, as long as there’s some room for flexibility within them. The aim is that anyone you ask to write for your business can use the style as a guide to ensure that they are speaking in your voice.

So, have a think about your business – are you writing in harmony or are you constantly clashing? What does your style say about you? What would you like it to say?

If you would like to find out more about developing your own house style, please do get in touch for a more detailed discussion, with no obligation.