Your Nimble Steps To A Brand Voice That Brings Business Content Glory
What is the heart readers engage when reading your content?
People always take something away from what they choose to read online. They’re also quick to cast judgement, so how you define yourself in what you write matters.
This is where a good brand voice is worth its weight in gold.
Why? Because a brand voice helps any business define how their customers should feel from reading their content.
And yes it’s important even when you’re a small business, because of the power that content marketing and social media give you.
Have you really thought about a brand voice? If you haven’t, or you’ve put little effort into developing one, I think it’s time to.
Striking a good business brand voice has both short and long term rewards because content is the ultimate way to reach more of your customer base.
And it’s on you to leave a great impression through what you write.
Getting your ideal brand voice sorted out:
Define yourself –
I can feel my mind curl up into a ball when I say that. I hate talking about myself. But I know like anything, practice makes things easier.
So what exactly makes you, you.
Unless you’re a marketer or ad agency, describing yourself in a written context is tough. When you’re a small business, summing up who you are and how you should sound to others just doesn’t come up.
Until you want to market your business, that is.
Here are key questions to start you off:
Who are you?
A harder question to answer than you think, especially when you’re cut through the shit.
What does your business do?
Your elevator pitch might fit here but go deeper and in more detail if you can.
Who are your customers?
How does your product or service help make their lives easier? – Write a fully developed human persona as your template. Outline your target customers, their problems, motivations for contacting you, and what results do they get from paying for your service.
What are your values? Why are they part of your business?
This is the ethical compass your business is using. Defining what you stand by as your set of values helps distil the type of brand voice you’re going to have.
It also holds up a sign to other people on who they will be dealing with.
Because their values should align with your business. It’s one of the essential things to know if you’re going to work with someone and build a relationship with them.
I’ll give an example here: Mailchimp – Voice and Tone
Mailchimp may have a humourous, slightly mischievous brand voice but they go to great lengths to keep their values intact with any of their published content.
They even have a style guide for prospective writers, which walks you through the different types of copy they regularly use (and examples to highlight them).
You’re in no doubt what they expect from their content. Brand voice style guides don’t come any better than this.
What makes you different from everyone else?
You’ve come up with what makes you, you but how does your business stand out from everyone else in your industry?
This question helps filter out the bland answers –
‘because we’re dynamic and innovative in our approach to achieve better customer service results ’
From the better ones –
‘because we fix what’s missing in your customer service through an end to end audit report so you can easily remove your weak points in contact.’
List three to four words that capture your business personality (A classic step but still relevant)
There are words that pin down exactly what you want your business to embody.
These tangible are words placed as the foundation blocks of your brand voice.
This can take some time to whittle down but it’s better to choose wisely. Your future content will need them.
For example, American Red cross – brand guidelines
The American humanitarian aid charity underpins both its visual style and its brand voice on an easy two-page document.
They highlight four words that Red Cross use for any content including uplifting, empowering, inviting and personal.
Each one of those words give an instant emotion to a person reading their articles, fundraising campaigns, and website copy. Whatever content of Red Cross you are exposed to should be in line with those descriptive words.
Whatever content of Red Cross you are exposed to should be in line with those descriptive words.
When you read one of their blog posts, you get that sense of positive action, humanity and wanting to drive community engagement.
That you can do something to make the world something more than it is today.
What your brand voice in content needs:
To be genuine
Your brand voice should do exactly what it says on the tin.
If it’s a wild and excited source of energy for an adventure company sales landing page but jars with the more reserved tone of other website pages, its content is giving off mixed messages.
People don’t trust that and you need that trust to connect better with them. To grow those winning relationships.
To be recognisable
When people open your content, you want them to know the voice of it.
Whether it’s a disarmingly casual chat between friends or a confident swagger with professional know-how, readers should get the flavour of how you say things easily.
So when they come across more of your content, your brand voice quickly boots up in their mind.
For example, Web Designer/Filmmaker Aaron Porter:
Standing out in a highly competitive field like web design and filmmaking is friggin’ difficult to do.
Being recognisable next to impossible. But Aaron Porter gives it a good shot.
His website is minimal in language and style but his confident voice storms through the case studies in his portfolio samples.
He’s honesty in what he can do, transparency on getting from A to B, and conviction in delivering over and above what he’s asked, are a part of his content flavour.
It’s personal branding done beautifully.
To be distinctive
Sticking out from a pack of competitors boils down to what make you so different and refreshing compared to them.
What sets you apart from everyone else? The descriptive words you chose before, they help define what makes you so brilliantly something else.
Take a look at your competition and how they sound. Any outliers there doing a better job presenting their brand voice? Or can everybody be lumped into the same basket?
Either gives you a way to approach your future content.
Outliers already have a brand voice that sets themselves apart from everyone else, your job is to customise a voice that’s completely different from them.
Because you don’t want a tone and personality that’s too close to a competitor, or worse mirrors their style.
This may take some time to work out but will make sure you’re not stepping into a competitor’s footprints when you write content.
This brand voice distinction will help you and your team know how your business voice must sound across all platforms.
For example, The Wow Company
Accountancy websites don’t normally strive for personality, so even a small ray of sunlight is enough to set you apart.
UK Accounting Firm, The Wow Company, target small business and startups as key clients and looks to dismantle the dry technical jargon in tax and business when presenting their content.
They’ve put their brand voice forward as current, experienced and sociable.
Making a clean break from any other competitors and aiming their content directly at this small business/startup niche.
To Be Consistent (the most important)
Putting into practice the sound and feel of your business brand across every piece of content is hard work.
At the start, you’ll keep referring back to your style guidelines, as a backup to what you write and are going to publish, and yeah, it will be a grind.
But once the wheels turn, the guidelines will begin to stick and, like learning lines in a stage play, they will come to the surface when you go to write for your business.
Brand voice consistency is the glue that binds trust with your target audience.
If something doesn’t ring true between different content pieces, like an email newsletter and your social media posts, it can jar a reader’s impression of you.
You want them to know exactly how to take your content and not leave them feeling ‘weird’ or ‘distant’ from it.
The language you use, the rhythm you place, and the structure you give your content makes the difference to how your brand voice is perceived by your audience.
For example, Australian graphic design platform, Canva, has carved out a niche in helping non-designers create and edit images for their digital content.
With over 10 million customers using their design platform, how they sound through their content is a big friggin’ deal.
So they keep their brand voice true across all of their content empowering, informal and relatable.
And this consistency runs through every facet of their content machine, from their social media posts right up to their design school articles.
Review when required
Times change, businesses evolve.
Sitting down to review your brand voice on a regular basis – every year or two years – helps capture your current sensibilities to how your content sounds now or how it should sound in the future.
Does it mean shaking it up on a massive scale? Probably not.
It’s more likely you’ll tweak some elements that reflect your business as of today, not when you started several years ago.
I didn’t cover structure, sentence length or word selection here but check out these excellent articles here that break them down beautifully:
To be frank, no business should be without a brand voice.
Even a sole trader or freelancer needs a direction for how their content must sound.
Using these under the radar steps, you can make sure it sounds like no-one else out there.
Because your target audience is going to make a decision anyway, so give them a voice that’s exactly what you’ve chosen.
One with great foundations to launch from.
We might need to say hi –
If you still struggling with your brand voice and making it part of your content, you can contact me right here.