Imitation — the sincerest form of consistency?

When Sebastian Faulks was asked to write a James Bond novel to mark the 100th anniversary of Ian Fleming’s birth, he was lucky enough to have a copy of Fleming’s article How to Write a Thriller to hand. This helped Faulks follow Fleming’s journalistic style of writing, and even copy his routine of producing 2,000 words a day.

But a Bond novel is a Bond novel — even if Devil May Care tackled a new theme (drugs) and was set in a location never used by Fleming (Persia, now Iran). With her novel Death Comes to Pemberley, on the other hand, PD James set herself a very different challenge: to write a murder mystery — a type of novel that doesn’t feature in Jane Austen’s oeuvre — that would read like a natural sequel to Pride and Prejudice.

As a lifelong Austen fan, James had many rereadings of Austen’s work to guide her. In her novel, she successfully recreates the world of Pride and Prejudice, reflecting Austen’s narrative style and the original book’s themes of manners, morality, marriage, class and self-knowledge.

Using a consistent style, or tone of voice, and staying ‘on message’ — as both modern-day authors have done — was critical to maintaining the ‘brand image’ of the authors they imitated and to keeping faith with the original authors’ readership.

Staying on brand and on message in all your sales and marketing communications is just as critical to maintaining your organisation’s brand image with your audience — especially if you’re producing a new type of collateral. An up-to-date set of editorial, branding and messaging guidelines will go a long way towards helping you achieve that objective, by supporting the creation of consistently styled and themed content of all types across all your communication channels.

What do you think? How do you ensure your new content stays consistent with what you’ve produced before? Let us know in the comments section, or get in touch on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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