How to optimize your brand voice to create engaging content
Lesa Beaty is a copywriter at Ready for Social. She has written for various newspapers and magazines throughout her career.
Whether you are a service provider or are selling an actual product – your business is a brand. And your brand is the “personality” of your business. Perhaps your company manufactures makeup and has a bright, cheery character, or maybe your business provides pet insurance and has a caring and empathetic nature. Either way, your brand voice needs to represent your brand to its audience in the appropriate manner.
Let’s look at a few best cases. Coca-Cola’s brand voice is consistently positive. Their ads emphasize that life is good and it’s even better with Coke. In contrast, Harley Davidson ads speak with an aggressive voice that challenges the reader to prove they’re tough enough to handle a Harley. A brand voice defines the company it represents and should remain consistent.
If you haven’t defined a voice for your brand yet, here are three crucial tips:
1.2Have a group brainstorming session. Think of words that describe your company.
2.2Try an “always/never” group discussion, e.g., our company is always reliable/never misses deadlines.
3.2Consider your customer persona. Who makes up your audience.
If you don’t have a style guide already, create one. Your style guide should sum up your brand’s personality, encompassing your values and mission statement, logo, color palette, images, typography and your brand’s overall voice.
Once you have a style guide in hand, use it to guide your content writing to ensure consistency across all channels.
Your brand tone is a subset of your brand voice and should match the personality of your company. If your business is a law firm, your tone will be more serious than if it’s a toy manufacturer.
Most marketing pros say that the tone of your content should be conversational. This is good advice because the writing should speak to your audience, not at them. If the tone is too formal, it feels more like a professor’s lecture but it lessens your credibility if it’s too informal.
However, some marketers equate conversational with agreeable, resulting in bland blogs that lack detailed advice. Research has shown a correlation between a low agreeableness score and better-performing content when using StoryBook, which integrates Voice and Tone data from IBM Watson. Agreeableness in this study refers to a person’s tendency to be compassionate, friendly and willing to compromise. It also suggests a preference for cooperation and a dislike of confrontation.
This distaste for agreeableness was especially true regarding blogs on investing or other financial issues. The audience wants valid advice rather than vague recommendations for something as important as their money.
Keep it simple
Your writing can communicate authoritative advice while still maintaining a conversational tone. The best way to achieve this tone is to keep your writing simple and concise. Write at a middle-school reading level, even if your target audience has college degrees. Writing at this level is usually more fun to read. In fact, an Ohio State University study found that content free of technical jargon makes consumers more engaged and ready to learn more about a product or service.
A conversational writing tone also helps convey a sense of personalization to your customers. When a customer feels you are speaking just to them, you’ve done your job well.
Have you found your voice?
You may have misunderstood how you sound and what your audiences want to hear. Review your content, and study your brand voice and tone to see where adjustments are needed. If you are still unsure of your business’s brand voice and haven’t formulated a style guide, take the time to complete these tasks. You cannot create authentic content if you are uncertain about this foundational piece of marketing intel.
Entire books have been written on the subject, so don’t be discouraged if it takes some time and effort to find your company’s brand identity. It will pay off in the long run and lead to improved content that resonates with your audience.
Have you been working on your brand voice? What do you think of our suggestions? Leave a comment to let us know how your branding process is going.