If you’re like most SMB marketers, you’ve created a lot of marketing copy without taking the time to find your brand voice. And you’ve ended up with copy that doesn’t sound like you at all.
As Erika Heald notes in a Content Marketing Institute post, “If your logo didn’t appear with your content, could you identify the content as coming from your brand? Would someone viewing your content on different channels know it all came from the same brand?”
How to find your brand voice
An authentic voice is a wildly important part of your marketing strategy. But how do you define it? And how do you share it with the people on your team who need to know how to use it?
Around here we say “Give us a week, and we’ll give you a voice.”
We take Heald’s advice a few steps further, and use a thing we call the Five Question Process. It’s pretty simple. Each workday for one week, you answer one key question about your brand. You can answer them on your own if you’re a solopreneur, or get your team members involved for a wider view. Plan to spend at least 15-20 minutes on each answer. You want to really dig deep and give this some thought.
At the end of the week, you’ll have about 80% of the tough work done to create a workable brand voice guideline you can share with your team. You’ll be ready to define, in just a few short paragraphs, what your brand voice stands for, sounds like and intends. And that information will absolutely transform your marketing.
The five questions to ask about your brand voice
Question 1. Describe your brand as a person. What is that person be like? What are the key elements of your brand’s personality and philosophy? Be sure to think about how your brand interacts with advertisers, investors, clients, families of clients, vendors and the public.
Question 2. Understanding where your brand’s product or services will have an impact is critical to developing a strong brand. What change(s) are you working for in your field, your community, your world, and how does your brand help to bring those changes about?
Question 3. Your brand must speak fluently to and resonate with your intended audience and your stakeholders. Your “audience” might include current clients, advertisers and the general public – anyone who will be directly affected by your content. Who is your primary audience? Your secondary audience? Who do you need to talk? Are there any specific challenges you face in communicating with them?
Question 4. If you could directly speak to each person in your target market, what message would you want to share with them? What do you want people to do when they hear your message?
Question 5. Are there any marketing materials or editorial/branding guidelines already in place for your brand? Are you using them to create your marketing copy? If so, what do you love? What do you not like so much? What’s missing? Are there any examples of voice and style out there than you really like?
Try it and see what bubbles up. Then use your answers to help create your brand’s style guide. Download our sample brand style guide for some inspiration, and of course get in touch if you have any questions.
Here’s to your authentic brand voice…and more engaging content for your audience.