I think we can all agree that implementing a style guide, no matter how thorough, considered or perfectly designed, is not going to win the bid, but it can say a lot about your team and its dynamic.
No matter the size or scope of the bid, the reality is there will be multiple contributors at all levels: author, reviewer and approver. While this diverse input provides maximum insights and expertise, without an agreed style guide it can also result in a bid submission that lacks cohesion, and incorporates multiple writing styles and inconsistent messaging. At best the client could dismiss these inconsistencies as a bi-product of the intense bid process. But at worst, they could be considered a sign that the team is a siloed ‘Team of Stars’, rather than a ‘Star Team’.
The latter of these, whether conscious or sub-conscious, could be incredibly damaging to your submission and could distract from the quality and suitability of your solution.
In contrast, adopting an agreed and thorough style guide in the early stages of drafting ensures that all authors, editors and approvers are aware of the terminology and language they should be using. It also provides them with clear understanding of the overarching objectives and key messages they should be highlighting and drawing out. This approach will not only ensure a more cohesive and compelling submission, but also positions your team as the ‘Star Team’ it really is. Simple, right?
So, what does an effective style guide look like? Most large companies will already have an overarching brand style guide in place that provides guidelines relating to logo usage, tone of voice, formatting standards, and various spelling and grammatical conventions. While this is a great start, it can be enhanced by incorporating bid-specific information, including:
Messaging: Define the key messages and differentiators, and how they should be articulated
Editorial style: Establish the language and tone that will be used throughout the bid, i.e. first/third person, passive/active voice (active, always active)
Client language: Provide examples of language the client has used, which can be mirrored and paraphrased to demonstrate your understanding
Defined terms: Outline exactly where to apply that elusive title case, and
Reference information: Provide an easy place for authors to refer back to important information, such as client objectives and key messages.
And most importantly, don’t forget to circulate your style guide to the entire bid team and keep reminding them to use it.
Tender Plus Consulting