Talk the Talk
Amy Bruining • February 11
Our copywriter’s four-step strategy to uncovering brand voice.
For any writer, on any project, one of the initial big tasks at hand is establishing a client’s brand voice. What does this mean? Well, determining how the content should flow and sound to the audience. Because after all, every user wants to connect, to engage, to easily comprehend and experience something different from any other brand. And when it comes to a niche industry, it’s all about differentiation.
As a copywriter, I find this process to be a tricky balancing act. While the client may view their brand one way, you—as the content expert—may believe the brand should veer off in a completely alternate direction.
Before we continue, let’s quickly establish the difference between voice, tone, and language. Voice is the overall style a brand expresses (casual, formal, etc.). Tone refers to the variation in your voice to reflect a specific feeling or response to a situation, and the language is the actual words used.
Read on to see my four-step strategy for uncovering a client’s unique brand voice.
This persona brings distinct emotions to the table. And just like any human, it matters how they speak and how they portray themselves to others.
1. Ask the right questions
Always start by posing targeted questions to assure others think about a brand the same way you do. This will help guide your storyboarding and see if the current voice is on-point or completely off-kilter. Tee up the discussion by asking:
Who does your brand want to be?
What are your end goals as a company or organization?
What does your brand hate?
What does it love?
What do users want out of your website?
How does your brand stand out among the competition?
Now, you can dig into the specifics.
2. Define the Personality
Explain to clients that a brand is almost its own person. This persona brings distinct emotions to the table. And just like any human, it matters how they speak and how they portray themselves to others. Because it’s representing something bigger—an entire organization (kind of a big deal).
You are creating a being that that allows your company to take on a life of its own. So don’t blow it off or emulate the next guy in your competitive circle. Take time to think about the person behind the site or the ideal image of someone who’d represent you at a tradeshow or conference. Are you positive, fun, and confident? Or practical, smart, yet witty? Whatever this may be, choose three words to name this personality.
Having consistency is the key to reaffirming and building brand affinity. It’s easy to usher this in through microcopy tweaks. Sprinkle terms across CTA’s, FAQ sections, landing pages, and find the changes are subtle, yet impactful.
3. Ensure Proper Language
Hone in on the true characteristics. Now that you have a general idea of who “it” is, it’s time to determine how it should speak. Outline words this person would use to express various meanings (i.e, regret, concern, gratitude, etc.) The list could go on, but you get the gist. It’s often helpful to create a chart and decide do’s versus don’ts, similar to CoSchedule.
Be sure that whatever you establish is easily translated onto other touch points (sales, customer service, social media). Having consistency is the key to reaffirming and building brand affinity. It’s easy to usher this in through microcopy tweaks. Sprinkle terms across CTA’s, FAQ sections, landing pages, and find the changes are subtle, yet impactful.
And don’t forget, while SEO is always important, it shouldn’t sway your client from sounding human and relatable. But on the other hand, don’t try so hard. As stated, it’s all about #balance.
Although some brands are witty and some brands are informative, all exceptional brands are two things: approachable and engaging.
4. Allow Revisions
In the end, remember every brand needs to room to evolve. The process of determining brand voice is not fixed, but rather fluid. So never stop searching for fresh ways to recreate or update your image.
After digesting all this, it’s common to question, Am I being too formal? Too casual? Is it appropriate for my audience? Have I captured my brand correctly? Rest assured, second guessing is both natural and necessary for any content marketer.
Here’s one final tip: Great brands don’t replicate—they innovate. They experiment, find new ways to impress, inspire their audience, and position themselves for success. Although some brands are witty and some brands are informative, all exceptional brands are two things: approachable and engaging.
Hoping to raise the bar on your content? Shoot us a message and learn how we can recharge your brand identity today.