Stop Talking Like That: Creating a Brand Voice That Sells
There’s this weird misconception that brands need to sound “professional”. In theory it makes sense; no one really wants to sound unprofessional. Unfortunately, this tone businesses often take in their content marketing actually just ends up coming across as dry and stiff. Not relatable. No good. Sad.
Your brand voice is responsible for a lot of things, chiefly making your prospect connect with you. (Which if you’re targeting the right buyers, should in turn create conversions.)
So….. stop talking like that!
It’s not doing anyone any good. You need to create a strong brand voice, and this is how you’re going to do it....
Define your brand voice
Instead of worrying about what “professional” sounds like, think about how you WANT to sound. How do you want people feel? What emotions do you want to convey? How will your brand voice make you stand apart from your competitors.
Start out by writing down some adjectives. (Seriously.)
Pick the words that come to mind for you when you think about how your brand should be portrayed. Pick three of those words. These three little words are what you need to have in your brain every time you touch a keyboard.
Every. Single. Time.
Here are some ideas to get you started:
Do you have your three words? Take a step back and take some notes on what each one means as a description of your brand voice.
Will you use slang? Will you use flowery language? Will you use dramatic language? Will you write in short, direct sentences?
It seems so simple, but describing your brand voice is the first step toward using it.
Think about the way your buyer speaks
So now that you’ve defined how you want to come across to your buyer, there’s one critical element missing…. How does your BUYER speak?
For example, if you’re selling surf boards, your brand voice can’t be the same as a company that does real estate investing—and vice versa.
Both imaginary companies may have chosen the “fun-loving” adjective or trait to describe their brand voice, but it’s going to be implemented very differently for each one.
If you want your buyer to hear you, to pay attention to you, you’ve got to speak their language. Now obviously we don’t mean their language as in Spanish, German, or Mandarin, but you’ve got to be aware of the little nuances in speech that are going to resonate with that particular audience.
(We all speak with contractions. If you’re saying things like “we will” instead of we’ll and “it is” instead of it’s, you're trying too hard. The content will be both stuffy and hard to digest this way.)
It could also be as simple as ending your sentence in “bro”.
This “real talk” is how our audience connects with one another, so naturally we’ve got the laid back tone locked down.
Use language wisely
Language is a beautiful thing. (I got a degree in writing; it’s one of my favorite things!) However, if we’re not smart about the words we use, language can really let us down.
Use it wisely.
The whole point of your copy is to create an impact. Sometimes less is more. Sometimes it’s not, and you need go into depth and use words that make a prospect excited or deliver a sense of urgency.
Language connects us in a special way online. There's a lot of us on the web, many of us who offer the same exact things. Language is what sets us apart.
This is your chance to show how your brand is unlike any other. This is your opportunity to wiggle your way into the forefront of your buyer’s mind. This is the moment to make an impact, and make no mistake…. you only have a moment to do it.
The humble brag doesn’t look good on you
Yes, you want to make an impact on your prospect, and you’ll accomplish that through language. However, you’ve got to stay humble. (Really, the humble brag has no place here.)
It’s always good to let a prospect know about what you’ve achieved, but instead of telling that you’re the best of the best of the best, you need to show them—with your words.
For example, when we write for clients, we’re always conscious of features versus benefits.
A feature is “a distinctive attribute or aspect of something”.
A benefit is “an advantage or profit gained from something”.
This thinking can be applied to lots of different kinds of writing as well. A “feature” might be your award-winning customer service department. That’s important for sure, but it needs to be reframed to explain how it directly BENEFITS your prospect. Like this:
“Customer care is at the forefront of everything we do. (After all, we’re nothing without you, our valued customers.) When you work with Gloppity Gloop Inc., you can rest easy knowing that a real person is waiting on the other end of the line to answer your questions day or night. When you work with us, you’re never alone.”
Be prepared to make a list of features and rewrite each one in a way that explains how it benefits your customer.
Keep it consistent
Business doesn’t have to be all business-like and whatnot—it can and should be fun. It’s important to let your personality and values shine through in your content, but it’s always got to be consistent.
As you dig deeper and begin to develop your brand voice, take notes. Once you understand what your brand needs to sound like in print, make sure everyone else knows it as well.
Most brands have a branding document or a moodboard to show exactly how their business should be represented visually…. So why wouldn't you have the same for how your brand should be represented in voice and tone?
So take these notes you’ve so carefully crafted and make sure everyone on the team is clear and on the same page about the way your brand voice should sound. Now, stop talking like that! Kick that “professional” crap to the curb and start adapting a tone that will endear you to your customers and create conversions for your bottom line.
Meet the Author: Shauna Armitage
Shauna is a Marketing Director or Fractional CMO helping early-stage startups scale with effective strategies, creative solutions, and unparalleled integrity by making the most of small budgets for maximum impact.
As a vocal advocate for women in business, Shauna is on a mission to redefine what it looks like to be a working woman and to support other women doing the same. She spends her free time traveling with her husband and four kids while drinking Coca-Colas. Connect with her on Instagram at @shauna.armitage.