7 Ways to Improve Your Style Guide
Sooner or later in your copywriting life, you'll be involved in creating a style and branding guide. This is your organization's final (but malleable) word on how to communicate your public identity.
It will create uniform standards for copy and design, including details on how, when and where to display your logo and which fonts, layouts, colors and other elements you'll choose to tell people, in a hundred subtle ways, how to feel about you.
Creating a style guide is detailed and painstaking. You have to pay constant and equal attention to the forest and the trees. Here are seven suggestions to help your guide stay on track:
1. Keep your logo flexible
In the beginning, your logo, which took so much time and effort to get just right, may seem untouchable. But as time goes by you're going to want to use it in ways you never imagined: Somebody will want to embroider it on a baseball cap. There'll be a mail package that needs to be printed in black and white. As you become more famous there'll even be times you want to use the graphic element without the name.
So create multiple color schemes. If you have a four-color logo, develop two-color, one-color, and black-and-white versions. Figure out how to separate the graphic, name and your tagline from each other. You may never need to use them separately, but in case it does happen you don't want to have to figure it out on the fly.
2. Claim your acronym
In many organizations there is a contingent that thinks you should always have to say and write your full name. There are three problems with this viewpoint: First, it reflects a lack of confidence in your ability to grow your brand. Second, you risk making your donors' and prospects' job harder. And third, if you don't claim your acronym early and link it inextricably to your brand, somebody else will. Then you've got the kind of brand confusion that can't be fixed without lawyers. Just ask the WWF.
Willis Turner believes great writing has the power to change minds, save lives, and make people want to dance and sing. Willis is the creative director at Huntsinger & Jeffer. He worked as a lead writer and creative director in the traditional advertising world for more than 15 years before making the switch to fundraising 20 years ago. In his work with nonprofit organizations and associations, he has written thousands of appeals, renewals and acquisition communications for every medium. He creates direct-response campaigns, and collateral communications materials that get attention, tell powerful stories and persuade people to take action or make a donation.