As the UK comes to terms with a new Prime Minister, officials for the new leader of the House of Commons are also grappling with change. It seems Jacob Rees-Mogg MP has wasted no time in issuing a style guide, making his views on language usage abundantly clear. ‘Lot’, ‘got’, ‘hopefully’ and ‘I am pleased to learn’ are just some of the many terms now strictly verboten. And heaven help anyone who uses a comma after ‘and’. So, are style guides just a load of old hat or are they still relevant in modern business?
A style guide is essential for any business wanting to strengthen its brand. Above all, a style guide gives your business writing consistency; a strong voice, if you will. A policy which gives direction on how you want your business name to be used, your customers to be addressed or your products to be described doesn’t have to be lengthy, but it does have to be clear.
Your business writing style guide can be applied to letters to customers, wording in brochures and marketing materials, on social media and on your company website. It answers questions such as: Where and when should your logo appear? What should employees’ email signatures contain? Are there any phrases that need to be avoided? A clear set of guidelines will boost the quality of your business content and ensure that a uniform message is sent to your customer base about your brand.
According to research conducted by Pardot, the B2B marketing automation by CRM powerhouse Salesforce, 80 per cent of consumers say that ‘authenticity of content’ is the factor they look for most when deciding to follow a brand. A consistent communication style is one sure-fire way to achieve that authenticity because it says that your brand is cohesive and that you’ve taken the time to get it right.
When you think about it, there really are an enormous number of opportunities where a business writing style guide can make life easier for your staff by saying, ‘This is how it should be done.’ What’s more, by employing a consistent style, your employees are continually reinforcing the ‘tone’ of your organisation through their business communications.
There are many reasons why Jacob Rees-Mogg is often referred to as ‘the honourable member for the 18th century’ but issuing a style guide shouldn’t be one of them. And whilst staff may grumble about having to include two spaces after a full stop or include the suffix ‘Esq.’ for all non-titled males, the good news is that the House of Commons will be consistent in how it communicates with its customers. And whether you’re a government department or a local supplier, a large consultancy or a one- man show, when it comes to creating a strong brand that sets you apart, that’s a really good thing.