IS YOUR STANDARD REALLY STANDARD?

Before starting my own business, I worked for five different ad agencies. As part of my job at each, I had occasion to write a variety of scripts — for everything from radio commercials to TV spots to presentations and training videos. Each of those agencies expected scripts to be set up a certain way, and most presented that way as “the industry standard that everyone uses.”

Yep, you guessed it. All five formats were very different.

I’ve seen the same thing happen with many other things over the years, from the way brochures should be arranged to the best ways to structure website copy to make it search-engine friendly. Once again, people tell me they want it done a certain way because it’s the industry standard, and once again, each one is as different from the previous as salt is from pepper.

There’s a caution in that: just because the approach you use is the most familiar and comfortable for you, and just because it represents what you’ve seen, it may not be the industry standard. In fact, there may not even be a standard for your industry or the particular item.

What’s far more important than standards and arbitrary rules is ensuring that whatever you’re creating connects with the audience and conveys the messages you want to deliver to your audience. In the end, it may not mean all that much if your first draft was double-spaced or single-spaced. And assuming that’s what’s really important takes your eyes off the content and delivery.

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