Embrace your internal communications: Key steps for developing brand guidelines

Illustration of a woman pointing to a blank style guide

A cohesive style guide can help unify your organization and prioritize high-impact work

Whether you are a lean and agile team or a big force to be reckoned with, it is easy for key messages to get lost in translation.

Instead of talking past one another, skip the guesswork and create a style guide to benefit your entire organization. Done properly, a style guide won’t bog employees down with a set of rules; instead, it gives them a jumping off point to focus on what really matters.

So, now you’re ready to create your brand messaging guidelines. What does that even mean, and where do you begin?

Start with the basics

Putting together a style guide is less about changing the way people communicate and more about embracing it.

Spend time with your team just talking and listening. What are the words, phrases and acronyms that regularly come up? Every business has jargon, but that’s most often where people get caught up. Start by creating a list and defining everything on it.

You don’t need to reinvent the wheel: adopt an existing style. Here at Pivot, we reference the Associated Press (AP) style guide as our starting point. Other options include the Chicago Manual of Style or the American Psychological Association (APA). 

Be who you want to be

In addition to reflecting who you are, an effective style guide will communicate who you want to be–aka “dress for the job you want.”

Focus on your organization’s values. How does the way you communicate reflect what matters most to you? Are people struggling to relate when they are really fighting for the same thing?

Next, define how you want to discuss these key topics and it will all become more clear.

Think about the voice and the tone you want to convey. 

Make it easy

Your style guide shouldn’t be a book of rules that employees fear misusing. Rather, think of it as a jumping off point.

Now that you’ve put the thought into who you are and how you communicate, employees can use that framework to get started and invest more time and energy to focus on their message.

Pivot consultant writing in a Pivot branded notebook

An effective style guide isn’t just about making sure everyone speaks the same way. It is a method by which you can better understand how employees view themselves in relation to their coworkers and their workplace.

One way, one voice, one style: By building this set of brand guidelines, you enable your employees to communicate more clearly and effectively as well as invite them to collectively participate in your broader mission.

Would you like to get the most out of your style guide? Reach out to Pivot to get an assist from the experts.

About the Author

Portrait image of Conlan Campbell

Conlan Campbell, Communications Consultant

Conlan brings a mix of corporate and agency experience to Pivot, where he strives to help clients meet their communications objectives and bridge the gap between them and their audiences. Conlan’s background runs the gamut of communications strategy, but he is most passionate about communications technology and efforts to create a more modern workforce.

Connect with Conlan on LinkedIn