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For small businesses looking to improve (or start) a content marketing campaign, there are two concepts they need to understand: the editorial policy and the style guide. These two documents provide direction and scalability to your overall branding. Many businesses (and some marketers) use these two terms interchangeably. While style guides and editorial policies have a symbiotic relationship, they serve very different purposes.

Editorial Policy

An editorial policy covers what you say in your brand messaging. An editorial policy sets parameters for the range of topics you want to cover on your website, blog, and social media platforms. An editorial policy also establishes length, and format for your content. It establishes purpose, audience, and tone. It helps to keep you focused, which boosts your search engine optimization and carries an engaging narrative for your audience.

Style Guide

A style guide covers imagery and presentation of your content – or how you structure and implement your content. This includes use of punctuation, grammatical guidelines, and use of slang or jargon. A style guide also includes parameters for design, use of the company logo, stock photography selection, colors, video format, and similar elements. This is extremely helpful when you have multiple contributors working on your content. An effective and well-used style guide will keep your brand messaging consistent and cohesive.

Why You Need Both

So, do you need an editorial policy or a style guide? You actually need both to be truly effective with your content. While that may seem like a costly or time consuming process, think of it this way:

Think about what would happen if you were to host Thanksgiving dinner and set a beautiful table, but only served frozen dinners. You likely wouldn’t be asked to host again. The same goes for a style guide without an editorial policy. You can have the most beautiful design and implementation, but if the meat and potatoes of your strategy (your content) aren’t there – your audience will look elsewhere.

At the same time, if you were to cook an amazing turkey dinner and expect everyone to eat standing up with flimsy paper plates – you’re likely not next year’s hosting pick either. The same is true for an editorial policy without a style guide. Presentation matters! Don’t waste good content with haphazard graphics, excessive slang, or poorly selected images.

Do you have an editorial policy and a style guide for your brand? Heeren Content & Strategy offers brand audits and comprehensive development packages to make sure you have the best content for an efficient digital marketing strategy. Schedule your consultation today!

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