A style guide for writing is a set of standards that help keep a company’s text consistent and on brand. For Wix, our writing style is an inherent part of who we are, so much so that for many years, our style guide was mostly in our heads. Only 6 months ago did we understand that the time had come to put what was in our heads on paper, so that our broad base of writers had a reference guide for how they could, and should, write their text.
Style guides, corporate identity kits, editor sheets and more have been used in multiple industries for many years. When we examined as many of these as we could find online, one of the commonalities in them was that they seemed, well, corporate.
But we’re not corporate. So when we set out to create a style guide for Wix, our intent – and the successful result – was to create a working, organic document to serve as a guideline. For the rest, our writers are empowered to use their knowledge, skills and best judgement to determine when to follow the guideline and when to make an exception.
Our first step was to take all of the collective information our group had and put it into a document. This gave us a pretty good idea of what we had covered, and what else we needed to do. Through intense research of some of the biggest brands in the SaaS industry, we also got inspired about what we should include.
In addition to outlining the basic grammatical rules our writers should follow, we saw value in using the style guide to clearly delineate our Guild (the group of professional writers at Wix) strategy, values, voice and tone guidelines, and more.
Since we try not to follow a corporate structure, this is where we faced a problem. We wanted to determine the values, voice and tone of a large group of professionals, all writing across different disciplines. But we wanted to do it without dictating what these were to our writers.
So we let the group decide.
How do you get 55+ people into one room to make decisions without total chaos ensuing? Coffee and croissants did the trick.
To be fair, passion played a big part too. And our writers are very passionate. So we gathered everyone for a series of workshops over 3 months where we deliberated what our values were, argued over the right voice for our brand and even had a few discussions about the right way to use the word “login” (or is it “log in?”).
What came of these workshops was a style guide born of collaboration — a set of guidelines that everyone was proud to use because they had played a part in creating it.
A good set of guidelines grows with the brand, and the writers, using them. By getting everyone involved in writing a style guide, we created a great document that we use every day. And we keep adding to it, changing it where necessary and using our critical analysis skills to challenge it. Why? Because a style guide has to be an organic part of a brand.
Brands grow — and as they grow, they change. Our Style Guide does too. And for those writers, content managers and brand specialists who are considering creating a set of guidelines, it may be valuable to create a style guide that’s organic and that can grow with the company, the writer base and the brand.
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