What’s Your Style?

Use a Style Guide and Style Sheet to Enhance Your Brand Identity

Source: AdobeStock

Source: AdobeStock

At RipCord Communications, we know your time is valuable. All that running around, making appointments, setting time aside time for family, fielding unexpected phone calls that sidetrack your day and, oh yeah, scheduling some time to eat and sleep somewhere in there. All that said, it is definitely worth the investment to stick to some hard and fast style rules to build a consistent style for your brand that will pay off one-hundred fold in the long run.

Two tools we’ll talk about today are the style sheet and style guides.

Creating a style sheet and utilizing a style guide are important tools for developing your brand identity and projecting a consistent message to your clients. It’s also critical for providing rules of thumb to anyone in your employ or any collaborators you entrust with your vision. They will know what you want, with little left to the imagination.

For starters, let’s explore the difference between a style guide and a style sheet. A style guide is a resource book that outlines the rules to follow for any particular kind of writing. These rules pertain to basics such as grammar, punctuation, citations, layout, and format. Some guides may also speak to style elements such as tone and voice. Among the most widely used are Associated Press (AP) Stylebook, APA, and Chicago Manual of Style, but there are many other industry specific guides.

A style sheet is a self-created document used to create style points. It outlines all the tiny details you will want to stick to keep consistent. Generally, this can be manufactured two ways – electronically or hand-written. Basically, it is a reference cheat sheet for all the nuances of your particular style. For example, do you use the Oxford comma or not?

The first option is to create a computerized spreadsheet. Label areas A to Z with a little left over room for miscellaneous. Then sort and fill in with your sticking points in areas such as odd spellings, words with variations, specific terms to describe certain people, places or things, abbreviations, numbers, and dates. This is a living, breathing document that you can add to and adjust as needed. (You can download the Sample Style Sheet we use at RipCord.)

The second popular format is a handwritten sheet with a similar layout again with lettered columns along with spots for miscellaneous, general style, and numbers. Being handwritten and portable, this is ever-evolving and can sit by your side wherever your creativity may be emanating from that day.

For some examples, check out these sites – universalclass.com and quickanddirtytips.com

A style guide establishes and enforces style to stay consistent. It ensures your prescribed to style flows into multiple platforms and instills a best practices guide that is mostly unwavering.

Here is a short list of common style guides from Wikipedia:

If you are like most folks, you operate better when you have some rules to guide your path. And if you happen to be a little OCD, the combination of utilizing a style sheet and style guide will provide some simple resources for you and your collaborators to stay true to your brand identity.

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