December 28, 2018

Content writing: Acing the rigour of compliance teams

hand stamping approval indicating compliance team's agreement

It is natural for any brand worth its salt to invest its time and resources in establishing a distinct brand identity. And to do so, it needs to follow strict guidelines. Failing to do this might compromise the customer relationship the brand has worked so hard to build. How, then, does a brand ensure consistency in all its communication – messaging, merchandise, social media, visual identity, and licensing across all its offices and employees? By setting up brand compliance teams.

What are brand compliance teams? 

Imagine if someone displayed inconsistent responses to the environment around them. Would you consider them dependable and trustworthy? No. You would perhaps also feel discomfort in not being able to read them right, and thus prefer to not associate with them.

Brands function the same way. Consumers need to be able to feel some sense of consistency in branded communication, no matter what the touchpoint. It’s part of what makes a brand feel credible.

And that’s where compliance teams come in. They ensure that all content that goes out under a brand’s name is aligned as per the brand identity and guidelines.

Freelancers and brand compliance

Working with a brand that has strict compliance guidelines can be tricky for freelance content writers. However, being prepared with what to expect can make the process much smoother.

Here are some ways to be in tune with the requirements of compliance teams:

  • Listen and study: Make sure you listen to the brief carefully and take copious notes. Following precise instructions can save you a lot of edits later. While this seems like a very obvious thing to do, it is easy to go off the brief because you could miss out on some crucial details – sometimes because of haste, at other times due to carelessness.
  • Understand the audience: As a content creator, it is imperative for you to internalise who the brand’s audience is. Experienced freelance content writers are used to working for brands across industries and can adapt to different tones quickly. However, this can be challenging for new writers or those with only journalistic experience. Ask for a brand style guide and study it well to avoid any discrepancies.
  • Caution around the competition: Brands tend to be the most careful when they have to cross paths with the competition. An organisation’s legal department usually vets any communication, written or visual, that involves any reference to its competitors. If you, as a freelancer, are ever in a situation where you need to cite a competitor in your piece – or are using data that originates from a competing brand – it is best to understand the brand’s policies in the matter.

If there are no fixed guidelines available to you, please bring it to the notice of the brand manager (or your point of contact with the company). Slip-ups in compliance, especially in sensitive circumstances, can lead to various legal hassles in the future.

  • Patience: Working with compliance teams can seem a tedious and arduous task. Expect feedback delays and time-consuming on-boarding processes. Your content might take a while to be published after it is submitted. However, you need to be patient and respect the time that the process takes.


In the long run, your patience and great quality of work will help generate trust with your brand teams. After all, both of you are working towards the same goal.

Strengthen the client relationship by cooperating with the needs of the compliance teams and you will become their preferred freelance writer to work with!