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Andrea Hill

Do You Have a Communications Playbook? You Should

A written style guide with examples can ensure consistency in your communications.

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IF YOU DON’T have a communications playbook in place, you should. A communications playbook is an extension of your brand book (you have one of those, right?), and its purpose is to keep your team communicating in the same way while simultaneously becoming more efficient and effective.

Communications playbooks vary from company to company, but the basics include:

1. A description of the desired voice of the company for written communications, showing how to share your brand essence in words, including examples of what works and what doesn’t work.

2. Swap files (copy and paste text) of phrases and paragraphs that your team uses repeatedly.

3. Your company’s style guide. For example, do you always spell out “karat” or do you use “kt”? When writing about carat size, do you always use decimal points, and how many — is it 1.00 carats or 1.0 carats? Is your company standard for total carat weight “tcw” or “cts” or something else? Do you want every word in your product descriptions to start with an initial capital letter? Is it ever OK to use all caps, and when?

One way to help your team stick to these guidelines is to prepare swap files for copying and pasting into email and text messages. Pre-create written responses for the questions customers frequently ask, your company description, your policies, descriptions of your services, charitable giving policy, and any other information to be shared with customers. Not only will this speed up communications, but it will ensure that your written communications are grammatically correct and consistent with your brand.

4. Your photography choices. It’s always a good rule to require that your photographs reflect your brand colors. If your primary brand color is blue, then stock photos you select and staged photos you take should have a blue theme running through them. Other colors can appear in your photos of course, but if you displayed a year’s worth of photographs on the wall, would your brand colors be dominant?

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Your photography should also reflect your brand values. Consider your brand values carefully and share examples of the types of photos that do and do not successfully convey them.

The easiest way to start this process is to collect examples of email and text messages you and your team send to customers, social media posts, and any other communications being sent or posted. Print everything, spread it out on the conference table, and see what you have. Use this starting point to make a list of swap files, rules, and guidelines to put in place.

In the absence of a communications playbook, many business owners use tight control over communications to keep brand creep from occurring, but this type of control can result in the owner becoming a bottleneck to prospecting and sales.

When you bring the same discipline to your organic communications that you apply to your paid advertising, your customers will begin to see – and feel! – a powerful brand story coming through.

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