In my first couple of weeks at Sprint Education, I was – to quote one of the greatest comic book villains of all time* – burdened with the glorious purpose of writing the company’s Style Guide.
After weeks of intensive research, diving head first into the depths of what it truly means to write for Sprint Education, and wondering whether I would be able to do it the justice it deserved, the final Style Guide gradually moulded into existence, taking its place as the backbone of written content at Sprint Education.
... And * drumroll * here it is!
Introducing the Sprint Education Style Guide
Of course, as interesting/useful as I hope you find our Style Guide, every company carries its own unique voice. This means that our guide may not necessarily cover everything you’ll want or need it to for your own brand. So just in case we’ve inspired you to begin writing your own (if you don’t have one already), I’ve outlined some brief but helpful info below on what a Style Guide really is, why it’s a good idea to have one, and how to get started.
First and foremost... what is a Style Guide?
Simply put, a Style Guide is an in-house document that is used as a reference point when creating any written content that will represent your brand, whether that’s on your website, in your blog, or via your marketing to schools. It goes beyond the standard (albeit necessary) spelling, grammar, and punctuation guidelines to ensure that individual members of your team write with one consistent voice.
Why is it a good idea to have a Style Guide?
I’m willing to bet that if you read an un-designed, unnamed selection of Sprint Education’s content next to that of another company, you’d know which was ours right away. This is because the way we write establishes our brand right from the opening sentence, distinguishing it from others as the unique and awesome company it is. A good Style Guide is therefore key to ascertaining your company’s written identity and credibility, as well as setting yourself apart from your competitors.
At Sprint Education, we are lucky to house an incredible bunch of individuals that make up one fantastic team. But employing lots of different personalities inevitably unearths lots of different styles of writing! Whilst this is a wonderful thing to encourage, a Style Guide comes in pretty handy to ensure that, without limiting creativity, your team are sufficiently equipped to represent your company as consistently as possible throughout any written content produced.
How do I start my own Style Guide?
If you ask any published author for advice on becoming a successful writer, they are all highly likely to tell you the same thing: Read, read, and read some more. And writing a Style Guide is not much different! When constructing ours, I studied Style Guides from other renowned companies to give me a feel for how to build the bare-boned structure of the guide and the kind of content I needed to flesh it out.
At the time of writing the guide, I was also very new to Sprint Education, so I spent a considerable amount of time researching everything about us via our regularly-updated blogs, email marketing, and even our company history. Combine this internal research with plenty of external reading and you’ll be well on the way to creating a successful Style Guide for your company. Of course, it’s always advisable to employ a fellow colleague to give it a proof read before you release it into the wild, too!
NB: For anyone who’s wondering, I did refer to the Sprint Education Style Guide to write this blog about the Sprint Education Style Guide. That’s almost paradoxical if you ask me!
*See Marvel’s 2012 film The Avengers. It’s a good ‘un.