Posted on June 5, 2023 by Matt George Moore Content remains king. But with so much being created and published every day, standing out from the crowd is an ongoing challenge. Style sheets can help. Here’s how. Style sheets are a powerful tool in the content marketer’s arsenal. They help writers maintain a consistent brand voice and tone across all client content. From blog posts to location and landing pages to social media updates, style sheets help us master content consistency and share that knowledge with our teams. The purpose of a style sheet is to etch in metaphorical stone the do’s and don’ts of a particular client’s brand voice and style. However, it is also a living document — one that adapts just as well to wholesale changes in marketing strategies as it does to minor adjustments in tone, voice, language, and more. What are style sheets? Many people are familiar with style sheets as they relate to the rules defining the visual appearance of a website or document — i.e., cascading style sheets (CSS). What we’re referring to here, however, is more akin to what’s called a style guide in journalism. Basically, a style sheet in content marketing lays out the ways in which a client’s content should look, sound, and feel — and the ways in which it should not look, sound, and feel. It is a document that provides a framework for writers to follow when creating content, ensuring that content remains consistent across all channels. A good style sheet includes guidelines for language, tone, punctuation, sentence structure, and more. It ensures that all team members understand the client’s brand and messaging and that consistency is maintained even as different writers tackle a client’s content marketing projects. How Webfor uses style sheets in content marketing A successful content marketing strategy is made up of a number of moving parts. As we all know, content marketing is critical for brand and business success. Why is content marketing important? There are a lot of reasons. But mainly, content is what initially draws search engines to a site in the first place. A style sheet is an essential step in the inbound marketing process. At Webfor, we create style sheets for each of our clients during onboarding. Here’s how we do it. The Process The first step is to gather information from the client about their brand voice and messaging. This information can be gleaned from brand guidelines, previous marketing materials, and conversations with key stakeholders. Once we have a good understanding of the client’s brand, we can begin to create a style sheet that outlines specific guidelines for content creation. We use information gathered during initial and ongoing discussions with the client, as well as during internal collaborations with our team, to build out the style sheet. What’s in the style sheet? Based on what we know about a client and what we feel is the best way to promote their business, we put together a document that contains, at minimum, answers to the following questions and prompts: What is the client’s tone? What attitude and mood should the content have (i.e., formal, informal, assertive, friendly, entertaining)? What voice does the client want to convey? Examples: expert, knowledgeable, comprehensive, high-quality (premium), helpful, friendly, professional, efficient, trustworthy, or down-to-earth. How does the client want their business personality to come through on the web page? Who is the client’s target audience? What do they expect when it comes to tone, voice, personality, etc.? Demographics: age, gender, industry, geolocation, etc. Potential customers (how to draw them in) Words, topics, language, and imagery to avoid Some clients may want only clean humor — or no humor at all. Others don’t want to market a specific service during a specific time of year — or, conversely, they may want to emphasize one product or service over another (residential plumbing vs. commercial plumbing, for example). Does the client want video content or just text as part of their content marketing campaigns? What about infographics, case studies, or email marketing? Relevant keywords (for search engine optimization of a piece of content or a web page) Additional notes and relevant insights Content Marketing Works With Style Sheets In Your Arsenal The information contained in a style sheet plays a crucial role in ensuring consistency across all client content. By defining a set of rules for how the content should sound, we can create a consistent brand voice and tone that resonates with the client’s audience. This is important; consistency builds recognition and familiarity, helping establish a brand as a trustworthy and authoritative source of information. Content marketing style sheets make it easier for writers, including those new to an account, to create content with confidence, knowing that they have knowledge about a client’s brand and content marketing approach firmly in mind as they begin to write. This aligns one’s content marketing efforts, saves time, and reduces the possibility of misjudgments and inconsistencies. Benefits of using style sheets Thus, we can see that using style sheets in content marketing provides us with several benefits. First and foremost, they help establish a consistent brand identity across all your content. They help maintain a content connection to a client’s brand voice, helping build trust with audiences and establishing a brand as one that will be recognized and remembered. They save time and reduce the risk of errors by clearly defining a set of rules for how content should sound. This ensures that content is always consistent and brand-appropriate. A content marketing style sheet is as important for content writers as CSS is to web designers and developers. By defining a set of rules for how the content should look and feel, content marketers can create a consistent brand voice and tone that resonates with audiences. Final Thoughts About Style Sheets Remember, a style sheet is a living document. It should be updated regularly to reflect changes in the client’s brand and messaging. For example, if a client decides to shift their marketing strategy from an expert or dry, professional tone to a more casual one, this change should be reflected in the style sheet. As the client’s brand evolves, so, too, should their style sheet. Not Just for Writers Style sheets can be used by every member of your marketing team, too — not just writers. Account managers, web designers, social media managers, and other stakeholders can and should utilize the information. This availability ensures that everyone involved in creating and publishing content is on the same page when it comes to the client’s brand voice and messaging. It also helps teams work more efficiently, as they can refer to the style sheet when creating content — rather than guessing what the client’s preferences might be. What’s more, style sheets and the work that goes into producing them are essential parts of client relationship management. When account managers share style sheets with their clients, it reveals to the client the depth and breadth of our knowledge regarding their business. It reinforces our commitment to precision, accuracy, thoroughness, and innovative approaches to internalizing brand voice. Any business owner would appreciate that from their marketing agency. For our content marketing team, style sheets are a vital tool in creating and maintaining content consistency across all of a client’s marketing channels. Lastly, we should mention that as more and more agencies experiment with AI content writing assistants, a style sheet can be used as a repository of variables and inputs that help facilitate the creation of effective AI content swiftly and at scale. If you’re a business owner in need of content marketing, or a digital marketing agency looking to improve your content consistency, consider creating a style sheet for each of your clients. It’s a small investment with a big upside — one that will continue to inform your team and its content marketing efforts far into the future.