My voice is part of my brand. I know this because people will often tell me “I heard a voice and knew it was you!” Maybe it is the slightly nasal remnants of my childhood in Brooklyn softened by years in the South that makes me stand out. Maybe it is the not so gentle insertion of the letter “w” into words, transforming God into Gawd or Aqua in Ackwa, a technique routinely practiced throughout my teen years.
Whatever the cause, I have a distinctive voice, which I rely on when I am giving presentations, or simply calling someone on the phone. That voice and style of speaking are part of my personal brand.
But what about when I write, when people can’t hear my voice? The challenge to create a written brand is not limited to individuals. As companies embrace a content strategy, they struggle with the same questions. What should your brand sound like? Which words reinforce the image you hope to project and which detract from it?
Tips to Create a Written Brand
Decide who you want to be:
Before you start writing you need to know what you want your readers to think and feel about both the content and about you when they are done. Not having a clear brand objective is like trying to get dressed without knowing if you are going to a formal banquet or a beach party. Ok for the engineers in the room who always wear khakis and a white shirt, but for the rest of us, you get the metaphor.
Select the right words to describe your company
Avoid nouns and verbs. The description isn’t about what you do, but about the impression you leave with people So focus your attention on the adjectives. Do you want to seem authoritative or approachable, confident or caring, quirky, irreverent or cozy and welcoming? Compare how you want to be described, with what is really happening. Ask customers how they would describe doing business with you and read your online reviews, specifically looking for the adjectives. Sometimes you will find words and phrases you would never have considered and other times you may find subtle changes you need to make. When you are done with this process you will have the foundation for your written brand.
Create a personality for your written brand
Think of a person who embodies the words you picked out. It might be a real person or a composite. As you think about your person consider gender, age and where they are from. Why? In the real world, all of these things will influence how they speak so getting this mental picture will help you give a voice to them.
Have a conversation with your person
This is a bit of a creative writing exercise so have a little fun with it. You know the feeling you want, you have a person, now have a conversation with them. Ask questions and answer them, not as you would, but as your brand person. If you are trying to create a warm and wise personality for your brand maybe your person is everyone’s favorite grandfather. The writing style will be filled with long stories told from the first person perspective with a lesson at the end.
At Roundpeg, our voice is a lot like me, direct with a bit of humor and snark, but also warmer and more welcoming than my natural style. Having a clear definition of our written brand voice makes it easy for different team members to take over the Twitter feed without giving our fans brand whiplash. As you write in your brand voice don’t be afraid to experiment a little. Individual blog posts and social media updates are a great place to test modifications to your style. Remember to use a bit of common sense and stick to the basic rules of grammar but have a bit of fun.
At the end of the day, you want your brand person to be someone your customers want to hang out with. Test your brand voice in individual blog posts. Not sure how? Download our Blogging Basics Guide.