It’s more vital than ever to ensure that you’re creating a genuine and consistent connection with your audience over digital platforms. If anyone who writes content for your brand uses a different voice, then you can risk coming off two-faced, inauthentic, and uncaring. Great brands create stories and content that feel like they are all coming from the same entity. People are drawn to companies that align with their values. Are you making sure that your brand’s personality is expressed clearly through your content?
In this piece, we will guide you through:
- Voice vs Tone
- Creating a content compass
- Defining your top 4 brand traits
- Making unbreakable content processes
- Reviewing, revising, and reiterating
Voice vs Tone
Brand voice and tone are often used in the same space, but how are they different?
Your brand voice is consistent, unchanging, and communicates your company’s personality. It’s important that your content sounds distinctly human, and this aspect is key to achieving that quality.
Tone, on the other hand, is the emotional slant applied to your voice. It may be adjusted, dependent on what’s being written about or who it’s being written for. More about creating these personas here 👉
Both voice and tone are key to creating genuine connections with your audience. But, for the sake of brevity, we’ll just be focusing on voice in this article.
How to create a compass
Before you can establish brand voice, you need a compass – a guiding force that aligns all content. First, you’ll want to gather up recent content pieces (preferably from within the last year), and pull out 3–5 that speak most authentically to your brand. Analyze what makes these pieces brand-aligned – for example, do they feel positive, honest, and empathetic? Pull away the vibes from the content that best communicate your brand’s ethos.
Define your top 4 brand traits
Now that you have a handy collection of content in your brand’s voice, use those traits you identified to dig into why they’re important for your writing. Use these to create a chart with the following:
- How to use it right
- How to use it completely wrong
For example, 4 of our core traits are:
|Attribute||What it means to us||How to||How to not|
|Positive||Even when things are looking dim, find the best outcome or solution to the current situation||Insert light humor ||Use a lot of exclamation points!!!!|
|Honest||We don’t sugarcoat things – we’ll speak plainly and aren’t afraid of the truth||Explain limitations and be vulnerable||Use insulting terms or promise unrealistic results|
|Educational||Our goal is to hand over the information so our clients feel empowered with knowledge – not to go over their heads||Break down strategies into clear steps and approaches||Use jargon or go into technical details/specs when explaining concepts|
|Empathetic||We want to make everyone feel seen, heard, and understood||Pose info from the user’s perspective||Debate that people that think unlike you are wrong|
Once you have this chart, use it as the foundation for your team to utilize when creating content. As you grow, it’s important to build this out into a formalized document or website reference like MailChimp. This allows you to provide access easily to anyone writing for your brand.
Make an unbreakable content process
Once you have a solid foundation for your brand voice, build it into any of your existing processes. For example, if you have a template project or task that you assign writers, add a link to the chart or guidelines. You can also create a Word or Google Doc template, and list instructions for creating content at the top. It’s important that along with these instructions, you explain the why behind the voice.
Additionally, if you have a direct kickoff call or handoff, reference the voice guidelines in those as well. It’s important to make sure it’s clear at the start of any project. When receiving content from your writers, also make sure there’s a brand voice review process, in order to ensure quality.
Lastly, review the process periodically, to see how it’s working and what can be improved. You can easily incorporate changes into project templates to automate the process as much as possible.
Review, revise, & reiterate
Make sure that once your voice guidelines are created, that you review them every so often to make sure they still align with your brand values. Brand evolves dependent on your market and audience, so setting a recurring task to revisit every 3 months at the least, is a good idea. When need be, tweak the guidelines or add sections to further clarify how to communicate across various media.
Most importantly, be an ambassador for your brand voice. Make it clear to everyone connected how important it is in order to establish a genuine connection with your users.
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