Challenge #4: Establish a Crystal Clear Brand Voice

It’s time for the fourth and final 2018 Brand Messaging Challenge!

If you just joined us, in January we explored your origin story, in February we identified your brand differentiators, and in March we examined your target audience. This month, we’re taking all that you’ve learned and putting it together to achieve a consistent brand voice across multiple channels. 

In my work writing content and copy for other businesses, I spend a lot of time mastering each brand’s voice.  When I write for my clients, I want the words I write to sound authentic to their brands. Before I write a single word, I listen to a client talk, uncover more about her brand’s personality, and learn about the customer experience her company offers. Through nuanced phrasing, thoughtful word selection, and other stylistic choices, I am then able to capture the essence of a business in writing.

When you are writing content and copy for your own business, it’s equally important to go through the process of establishing a consistent voice. If your email communications are stale, wordy, and serious but your in-person customer encounters are lively and light-hearted, you risk confusing your customers. While they may not consciously register the disconnect, inconsistencies between various touchpoints can break down brand trust. In contrast, by having a well-established tone, style, and personality across your various channels and interactions, you can build a dependable, memorable brand.

It requires equal parts thought and effort to establish a powerful brand voice and master the art of translating it to fit everything from Instagram to brochures. If you don’t have the time to devote to working with a professional, here are three important areas that you can start to address on your own.

 

1) Key Words & Phrases

When you first brand your business, it’s imperative to develop foundational language that can support you in all of your written and verbal communications. Most business owners recognize the need for a logo, brand colors, and other visual elements. However, there are many who forget about the equivalent written components—things like a mission statement, brand values, about statement, and tagline.

By taking the time to perfect these important brand messaging elements, you are laying the groundwork for future content and copy. I suggest weaving keywords and phrases from your basic brand messaging, as well as your brand differentiators, throughout your social media posts, e-communications, website copy, and advertisements. You want to build strong associations between your business and the words and phrases that best describe the “why”, “how,” and “what” of your work. 

2) Tone

In our lives, we have all undoubtedly encountered people who are colorful and quick-witted in their speech. We’ve also surely met others who communicate in short, dry, to-the-point sentences. If one day we got an email from our dry and to-the-point attorney that contained two jokes and a winky-face emoji, we’d probably wonder if his email was hacked. That’s because the email wasn’t written in the voice we’ve come to expect.

When it comes to a brand, the same holds true. If we want our customers to connect with us, we need to choose a tone that’s appropriate to our brand personality and adhere to it in every situation.

3) Style

 Following a single style guide for your writing can be a subtle way to enhance your brand voice. While some businesses choose to adhere strictly to an established guide (such as The Chicago Manual of Style or The Associated Press Stylebook), many develop their own set of rules based more loosely on one of these guides.

No matter what style guide you choose, it’s important that you apply punctuation and grammar rules in the same way throughout your writing. For instance, when writing event times and store hours, if you generally write 10:00am–11:30pm, don’t suddenly use 10:00 AM to 11:30 PM in your email. Besides dates and times, other common places where brands can establish consistent style include use of serial commas, how phone numbers are written (888.998.1020 versus 768-456-8989), use of hyphens, punctuation in bulleted lists, capitalization in headings and titles, and spelling (gray versus grey).

Remember, as long as you know the rules of writing, there are times when those rules can be broken. For instance, if your brand has a casual, fun vibe, don’t be afraid to reinforce that with by incorporating short sentences, looser pronoun usages, emojis, and exclamations.

 

By taking the time to think about your story, your differentiators, your audience, and your writing style, you have made an investment in your brand that will pay off in big ways over time!

While our series has come to a close, there’s plenty of good stuff on the way in 2018 from writing resources to tips for strengthening your brand. Be sure to sign up for emails so that you never miss a post!