It’s a new year, which means it’s time to get started on making your resolutions a reality (both personally and professionally). If you’ve set personal goals already (like seeing the inside of 24 Hour Fitness more than once a week), but you’re looking for a professional goal that will make a tangible impact on your brand and organization, you’ve come to the right place.
Does your business communicate with its customers? Yes, of course it does! So this resolution is vital to any and every business: create and maintain a consistent brand voice. This blog is here to help you make this an actionable resolution by sharing the importance of a consistent brand voice and some tips and tricks on how to create and maintain it.
Why You Need a Consistent Brand Voice
It’s important to present a consistent experience across channels, and the best way to do this is to define your brand’s voice. Whether you’re creating content for your blog, your website, or on social, the style you write in will become the “voice” of your brand. Think of your brand’s voice as its personality. It helps make your brand more genuine and personable, but it needs to be consistent. While you might adopt a more playful voice on Twitter and a more professional voice in a whitepaper, consistency is key if you want to create a brand that your customers recognize and engage with over time.
How to Determine Your Brand Voice
The voice you use for your brand depends on the persona you’re creating content for. In some organizations, you may address different personas. It’s important to identify both a “go-to” voice that addresses everyone and one that addresses individual personas.
Stephanie Schwab of Social Media Explorer breaks down a brand’s voice into four categories: Character/ Persona, Tone, Language, and Purpose. Here’s her list of attributes for each category—which of these descriptors resonate with your brand? (Note: You may decide that some attributes fit with one buyer persona, but not with another.)
Purpose (different content will probably serve different purposes)
Create a Consistent Voice
Once you’ve defined your voice, you’ll want to aim for consistency across your entire company—allowing for some variability for each persona.
Here are some strategies we use at Marketo to achieve a consistent voice:
- Create brand guidelines. Ideally, you’ll develop a distinctive visual and written style that makes your brand instantly recognizable by your audience. To create brand guidelines, simply translate this style into words, include plenty of examples, and get buy-in from the C-suite. Check all your content against these guidelines and be sure to share them with any outsourced design agencies and your writing team. These guidelines will work best as living documents that are updated as you encounter new questions. So what should your brand guidelines include? Here’s a list to get started:
- Visual Guidelines—Do you use stock photography? How can your logo be used? Anything that visually supports your brand should be included here.
- Style Guides—This is where you indicate any writing style preferences that support your brand. Do you capitalize product names? Do you prefer open or closed words—for example, web site versus website. Do you have a style guide you rely on as your guiding principle—like AP Style or Chicago? Document these here.
- Personas—If it’s an internal document, it may make sense to include the details of your personas in your brand guidelines. Personas help writers and designers understand the audience they are trying to reach and make your visual and style guidelines come to life.
- Align your writers. Make sure anyone writing for your brand (whether it’s advertising, press releases, ebooks, or blog posts) is closely aligned. Start by ensuring that they have access to your brand guidelines. If multiple people handle these functions, meet regularly to review and improve.
- Extend the review process. We firmly believe that everyone needs an editor, so if the structure of your organization permits, having someone to share your writing with and get feedback from can make you a stronger writer. For example, at the end of each day, the social team could send their scheduled tweets, Facebook posts, and LinkedIn posts to a cross-functional team of reviewers. This way, members of the PR, demand generation, content, SEO, and PPC teams all have a chance to weigh in. (This is also a great way to catch typos and bad links!)
A consistent brand voice is one way to make sure that your customers recognize you and understand that you are talking to them. Take these tips with you into the new year and see the impact it has across your organization. Do you have tips to share on building a consistent brand voice? I’d love to hear them in the comments section below.