Your Guide to Building a Consistent Brand Voice for Content Marketing
By this point, you’ve heard about brand voice and the role it plays in content marketing campaigns. When most people think of a brand, they think of it in visual terms; they think of a logo, a color scheme, a mascot, a font, and other visual cues that represent a company’s identity. But brand voice, the tonal and linguistic choices of a brand’s copy and content, is just as important. Throughout this guide, I’ll explain the mechanics of why brand voice is important, and I’ll show you how you can create your own brand voice—and keep it consistent across every platform.
Why Is Brand Voice Important?
A consistent brand voice accomplishes several goals simultaneously:
- It solidifies your brand identity. By aligning your tone of voice and verbiage with the “personality” of your brand, you’ll strengthen the image people have of your company. In the same way that a logo can give someone an immediate good (or bad) impression, your choice of words can convey a style and set of characteristics that leaves people with a specific feeling.
- It makes your content more relatable. People want to read content that speaks to them. Consider the lines “Homework is the worst—and this study proves it!” and “New study finds homework inhibits learning potential in adolescents.” These lines could be introducing the exact same article, but one speaks to an adolescent audience, while the other speaks to older, more scientific minds. How you say things matters more than what you say, and with the right brand voice, you can make almost anything work for your target audience.
- It builds familiarity and encourages repeat readership. Readers are far more likely to return to blogs they feel are familiar. If a reader is introduced to a new voice, or an inconsistent voice, each time they access a blog, they’ll have no familiar foundation and they’ll be less likely to continue reading. A consistent voice keeps them coming back for more.
Four Questions to Ask
Before you can enjoy the benefits of a consistent brand voice, you have to construct one that’s appropriate and valuable for your brand. It’s a tough task, especially for those unacquainted with brand voice or new to the world of writing, so to get you started, consider these questions:
Who Is Your Target Audience?
Start by defining your readership. Who is going to be reading your blog? Think of your readers’ personalities and characteristics—are they old or young? Male or female? Highly educated or average? Think about what these types of readers appreciate in their lives. Are they the type of people who prefer complex, professional vocabulary, or the type who prefer simplistic, easy-to-understand language? Would they prefer an emotional draw-in or a logical one? You can get a better idea for this question by reading up on blogs that are also targeted toward your audience, and shaping your voice against theirs.
What Makes Your Brand Unique Among the Competition?
This is a critical question that will define your brand as a distinguished enterprise in the landscape of your industry. Take a look at the blogs and social media posts of all your competitors. What characteristics do you see in their brand voices? What makes your brand unique among them? You can certainly draw inspiration from the style of your competitors’ brand voices, but if you want to stand out and win the loyalty of your readers, you’ll need at least a few differentiating factors. Are you more casual? More refined? More personal?
If Your Brand Was a Person, What Would He/She Be Like?
This is the key question in determining the shape of your tone, and it’s extremely helpful for new writers who are unfamiliar with creating a brand voice from scratch. Rather than trying to sort out which words to use or what types of phrases to try, put yourself in the mindset of your brand. Your brand should function as your company’s personality and identity, so it’s helpful to imagine what your company would be like if it actually was a person. Is your company male or female? Is he/she relaxed or disciplined? Sharp-dressed or casual? Friendly or formal?
Why Do People Want to Read Your Material?
Finally, you’ll want to ask yourself why people want to read your material. You probably already have an idea about the topics you want to cover, but why do people want to read those topics? Are they attracted to the informational element of it, or would they rather be entertained? Are they coming to you because they’re distressed and in need of help, or because they’re bored and need something to occupy their attention? Understanding your readers’ main motivations can help you shape a voice that responds to those needs.
The answers to these questions should be helpful in establishing the core values and characteristics of your brand voice. But that alone isn’t enough to get you started. Try these exercises to take your new brand voice for a test drive, and start working out the kinks:
Exercise: Imagine a Conversation
For the first exercise, you’re going to utilize the characters you invented with the preceding questions. Imagine your brand as a person, leading a conversation, and your ideal customer as another person, responding or listening to the conversation. If you have multiple demographics for your brand, simply choose the one with the most relevance.
Think of something you’d like to say; it can be the relation of a news item, a how-to explanation, or anything else that could eventually transform into a blog post format. Imagine how your character, the personified version of your brand, would relay that information to your target audience member. Write up a paragraph while thinking in this mindset, as if your character is having his/her words directly transferred to the page. Later, re-read the paragraph, and imagine your “brand” character speaking the words aloud. Does anything seem strange or out of character? Make adjustments accordingly.
Exercise: A, B, and C Take
This second exercise is designed to illustrate the differences between different tones of voice. It should help you find the distinguishing factors that make your voice unique, and give insight into how different voices can be constructed.
Consider our “homework” example earlier. You’re going to build a similar model. Take an idea: it can be the headline for a news story, a sample statistic, a random fact about your industry—anything that can be summarized in one or two sentences. Then, you’ll spin it like an actor, with an “A” take, a “B” take, and a “C” take. Find three different ways to convey the same information: one in line with your brand’s voice, and two that are in line with a different voice. With practice, you’ll become a master at reshaping core content into a brand-appropriate tone.
Remember that while your brand’s voice should remain relatively consistent from post to post, it’s also going to change as your business grows. Over the course of months and years, you’ll need to update your brand voice to reflect changes to your company’s offerings, core values, leadership, and target audience. Consistency is important to build familiarity, but brand voices cannot remain stagnant when businesses evolve over time.
Different mediums do require slight alterations to your formatting, but for the most part, your brand’s voice should remain consistent across all platforms. It will take time and practice to master writing in your brand’s style, but in time, you’ll have something recognizable, valuable, and endearing for your brand.
Want more information on content marketing? Head over to our comprehensive guide on content marketing here: The All-in-One Guide to Planning and Launching a Content Marketing Strategy.
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