Consistent Style?

Do you wake up in the same mood every day?

Do you always have the same reactions and feelings no matter what’s happening?

Probably no.

You allow yourself room to be different depending on the mood.

And why shouldn’t you? You and I are human. And being human means having a wide and dynamic range of feelings. (Subject to change.) Feelings that, in turn, affect the way you think, speak, act, and write.

Now, here’s where we humans get funny.

We enjoy being able to predict outcomes. There’s a feeling of security in that. Which is why we usually prefer the people we interact with to be consistent.

You and I tend to give less leeway to others to vary their moods than we give ourselves.

Why am I telling you this?

It’s been an overdrawn leadup to this point:

If you write a blog, newsletter, ad, email, or anything else representing your business or company, please realize your readers subconsciously expect you to be consistent.

Which is why having a writing style guide is a good idea.

Now, it doesn’t have to be complex. Even a simple one will do. But you have to write it down.

Here are just a few points from the style guide I created and use to write The Vice Chancellor’s Corner:

  • Don’t hide behind “we.” Say “I.”
  • Don’t use “!” except for when the statement would have been a question.
  • Never use sarcasm.
  • You’re only writing to one person, not a group. Use “you.”
  • Negative outcomes are a possibility.
  • Positive outcomes are assumed.
  • When appropriate, play Devil’s advocate against your own argument by asking questions.
  • Don’t put people down or say negative things about others.
  • Don’t break these rules unless you can do so well.

Having even a basic style guide in place will keep your personal feelings, which are subject to change, out of the thing you’re writing.

Which will lend consistency to your writing and brand.

Which will make your readers and customers feel secure.

And when they feel secure, the money comes out when they need the thing you sell.

Because, after all, if they have to buy the thing anyway, wouldn’t they rather give you – the safe and consistent company – their business?

I believe they would.

– Zac Smith, VC 

P.S. Since you read this article, here’s a little Easter egg for you.