Without branding, who are you, really? Another company offering X and Y products that are hopefully a cut above the competition? Great, but unless you’re situated in a well-defined space with a recognisable name and huge footprint, you may have some work to do.
But that’s OK! Branding doesn’t necessarily have to be a painstaking or laborious exercise that leaves you feeling drained. It’s a crucial part of the process for any company, of any size, particularly as it relates to content marketing and its many forms.
For the purpose of this post, though, we’ll primarily be talking about the way in which branding relates to writing content for your site. That goes for whether your site is massive and filled with product pages, smaller but brimming with intriguing blog posts, and anywhere in between.
While it’s great that you’re producing content, perhaps even on a larger scale, it may be that your audience isn’t necessarily recognising it as specifically yours. And at a time when we’re all inundated with content on social media, websites, etc., it’s never been more important to stand out with a clearly defined voice.
How to find your voice
When we talk about branding, what we’re really talking about is a voice. You can also think of it as a point of view or perspective, because how you use your voice is crucial and helps to define exactly who you are and how your audience perceives you.
Review what’s worked—and what hasn’t
If you’re already creating content and have been for some time, you may actually be in luck here. One simple hack for better defining your voice is to take a look at what you have created to date and see what has had the strongest response.
It doesn’t necessarily have to be in terms of views or clicks, either. If an article, guide, or tweet you published has a lot of replies or comments but not much in the way of views, that’s actually pretty great! It proves that people are clearly looking to you as a conversation-starter in that particular area. All you have to do is embrace and more strongly define that voice so you can run with it.
Get internal with it
If you’re just starting out, though, you will want to start smaller than that. Kick things off with a two-pronged approach that helps in different ways:
- Meet with key stakeholders. Find out how they personally view the company’s voice, and then how they would prefer to see it portrayed. This is obviously crucial because you need their buy-in.
- Poll the workplace. No matter the size of your staff, you are bound to get at least one useful piece of feedback here that can be utilized. Hell, even the most off-the-cuff recommendation should be taken into account. That being said, getting “weird” with your voice only really works if you know your audience is just as goofy.
- Consider the culture. In addition to your audience, your voice should also be a strong fit for your company culture. For example, you can’t put forth an uber-professional vibe in your marketing if no one in your office acts that way. This is particularly important if your company is heavy into speaking at conferences and events. While it’s great for individuals to have their own personalities and, yes, voices, there needs to be an overarching theme across the board.
Even if these steps don’t give you a clear-cut definition of your company’s voice, they will put you well on your way toward creating one. You may also find that there’s a disconnect between the levels of employees and how they view your company, making it all the more important that a singular voice is established not just for your content but internal materials as well.
Define your voice
With the research done, it’s now time to define the voice that we’ve been talking about so much. A tried-and-true method for this is keeping the process simple by narrowing down your concept into the three words that define your brand.
Those words can be whatever you want them to be, so long as they stick to what you have been putting together so far, of course. Once you’ve chosen them, you want to further define your voice by adding three or four more descriptive terms for each.
- Helpful: Cooperative, supportive, thoughtful
- Engaging: Conversational, charming, interested
- Authoritative: Authentic, dependable, reliable
Whichever words you choose, make sure you’re not in a rush to pick them. They are incredibly important and crucial to not just defining your voice but maintaining it through different forms of media. From social networks to guest posts to white papers, anything that represents your brand needs to follow what you have built here.
To make that a bit easier for you and your team, create an accompanying style guide that properly outlines the voice you have created. Write template tweets, Facebook posts, etc., using the voice to portray how the company should be portrayed and pass it around the office.
If you’re looking for a super-quick way to do this, take advantage of MailChimp’s free-use style guide and adapt it to match your own quirks and differences. It follows many of the guidelines you’ve likely seen across the web in terms of grammar in particular, but it’s also a solid foundation for you to create your company’s own style guide. Just make sure you give MailChimp a proper tip of the hat in doing so, of course.
So, why is brand voice important again?
You can create all the content you want and, who knows, some of it may even find some success here and there. But without a brand voice to tie it all together, you’re bound to lose much more than you gain. That’s particularly true as we continue to see brands churn out bigger quantities of content, which can cause your undefined voice to get lost in the clutter.
It really boils down to this: if you don’t know who you are, how can someone else really know, either? You can get all the clicks you want from a zany or controversial tweet or blog post, but without some kind of clear consistency in voice with follow-up content, you’re just going to confuse the hell out of everyone. And, really, who wants that?
Ayima go through this tone of voice setting process with many of our clients with great success. This not only allows us as an agency to produce and brief in consistent quality content, but also to create a robust content strategy with copy that really speaks to our clients’ audiences. To find out more you can contact us here, or register interest for our upcoming content marketing training.