There's never enough time when you're getting communications out the door. But when two different spellings of the same word (both correct) are used in a membership drive campaign, or the way your nonprofit is described varies from letter to letter within the campaign, or your logo appears in different colors and different sizes in different places, your audiences will be confused. The answer? Style standards clearly defined and published in a style guide.
Due to the ubiquitous nature of advertising and promotion, we're all bombarded by communications. In the face of this morass, you're making it difficult for your audiences to recognize, at a glance, that your communications are all coming from your organization. Remember, we're all scanners these days.
In addition, it's likely that those who do recognize that these divergent communications are from you won't think much of your organization or your sloppy communications effort.
Consistency is the key to your audiences absorbing your messages, and for them to be able to "whisper down the lane" – repeating those messages to others. No other form of communication is as powerful as this natural network.
A Style Guide Is a Long-Term Solution
An easy way to ensure clear and consistent communications is to create a two to three page editorial and design style guide. Everyone needs to be on the same page when it comes to getting the word out. The standards featured in your style guide will make it easy for them to do so.
A style guide will also make it unnecessary for you and your colleagues to re-invent the wheel each time, saving you a great deal of effort.
Here is a step-by-step plan approach to putting together, or updating, your style guide.
Putting Your Style Guide to Work
Your next step is to distribute the guide and ensure that staff and consultants are clear on its content. Remember to add to your guide on an ongoing basis as questions come up and preferences are determined.
© 2002-2007 Nancy E. Schwartz. All rights reserved.
About the Author
Nancy E. Schwartz helps nonprofits succeed through effective marketing and communications. Subscribe to her free e-newsletter "Getting Attention", (http://www.nancyschwartz.com/getting_attention.html) and read her blog at http://www.gettingattention.org for more insights, ideas and great tips on attracting the attention your organization deserves.