Too many startups treat their brand voice like the redheaded stepchild of brand-defining efforts. If you have great qualities on your side, such as a pristine website and ubiquitous social media involvement, sometimes it’s difficult to even notice or care that your voice isn’t fully defined and confident.
But over time, not allowing your voice to come into its own could cost your business a piece of its identity.
You could confuse audiences as well as lose a clear perception of your own marketing goals. You could waste valuable time and resources trying to clean up inconsistencies down the road. Maybe you don’t yet have the budget to hire in-house writers and designers to regularly produce high-level content.
Maybe you don’t know how to squeeze the same tone of your website copy into a Pinterest board or 140 characters. No matter what the obstacles, seize control of your brand voice – it is the means by which people discern the heart of what you do and who you are.
The responsibility that comes with establishing your content as an authoritative source of information includes being transparent and well-spoken. Are you getting the message across? Are you being honest, or could customers point out discrepancies if they dug a little deeper? Do you fess up to flaws and apologize for mistakes?
One aspect of being an authority is being genuine. Don’t force a voice that doesn’t work for you. If you’re not luxurious or elegant, don’t pretend to be unless this is an ironic staple. Otherwise, it may come off as pretentious. Don’t attempt to be relatable if your business is swathed in an air of sophistication and exclusivity. You will probably never see Cartier tweeting anything resembling Skittles’ quirky one-liners.
The character of your voice is what separates you from every other brand trying to entice potential customers. Whether quirky, sassy, cute, irreverent, elegant, pun-ridden, self-deprecating or no-nonsense, don’t let your brand follow the leader. In order to hone the distinct character of your voice, decide what makes your business different from others and work on those distinguishing qualities.
What are three aspects your business prides itself on, and how can those translate into a tone of voice? For example, if you revolve around making things easy for your customers, encouraging intelligent discourse and challenging the status quo of your industry. Three words that might describe a fitting voice are simple, insightful and daring.
Embrace your tone of voice confidently, no matter what personality it develops, and don’t ever compromise it. With so many platforms, it’s too easy to cross wires and vacillate on how to present information. This is why an effort to maintain consistency across all channels is vital – whether visual or written, print or digital, onsite or offsite. If your brand voice isn’t on the sassy side, don’t respond to a customer complaint on social media in a sassy and challenging tone of voice. Inconsistency can easily tarnish your reputation.
Even if your tone of voice is on the lighter side, make sure that the content you produce is focused, relevant to your brand and purposeful. If you can’t clearly pick out the message and goal behind each piece of content, maybe you don’t know your audience as well as you thought. Understand your audience before expecting to be understood by them, and then craft every piece of content with the ultimate goal of initiating action.
While maintaining consistency is vital, you should also adapt your message to fit the platform. This means respecting the guidelines of partner websites while guest posting, and maybe even slightly toning down the professional feel for social sharing sites. Be not only adaptable, but willing to evolve. If your brand voice is unsuccessful in reaching your market, don’t go down with the ship: revamp. Constantly attempt to better understand your audience.
Katherine Halek is a content strategist and social media manager at Signazon.com, a leading online printer that works with thousands of small businesses around the country. Katherine enjoys writing about social media, event management, and the ins and outs of advertising. Connect with her on Google+.
Bill & Vicki T | Courtesy of Katherine Halek