Every time you write a piece of content, you’re using a voice, even if you don’t think about it. That voice conveys something about your brand, and it influences how your audience sees you. If you want your content to retain customers and convert prospects, you need to have a brand voice that’s loud, clear, and consistent. Even if your logo isn’t visible, people should be able to associate your content with your brand because of your unique voice.
Chances are, you produce content for different channels. Even if you have one person working on blogs and another person writing e-books, the voice should be the same. If you don’t take steps to create a defined voice, you could end up with multiple “personalities” spread across your various content platforms. When handled correctly, your voice should set you apart from others in the market, build trust with your audience, and share your brand identity.
Maybe you’ve never thought about your brand’s voice. Or, maybe you know it could use some work. Either way, this article will help you to find your desired voice before you begin writing content in 2020. Here’s what you need to do.
Reflect on Your Company’s Values
Your voice is a reflection of your business’ values. You can’t just choose it based on what you think is cool or what’s popular at the moment. It must be based on who you are as a company. You need to determine what you want the world to know about your brand. Think about why the company was started, how it impacts people, what makes it different, and what you want people to say about you.
Assess Your Existing Content
Gather your marketing, PR or social media team and take a look at your e-books, web pages, and social media content. Put aside the generic pieces which could have been produced by your competitors and focus on unique content which you feel truly represents your brand and is in keeping with your values. Identify what they have in common and what you like most about them and what was most effective.
Describe Your Brand Voice
Try to come up with three words that represent your brand voice. Some of them may be represented in your existing content. Others may be values that you believe should be included when you’re writing content in 2020. Once you have identified these words, define how you will bring them across in your content. For example, if your brand voice is quirky, your content will need to be unexpected, light-hearted, and playful. However, if your voice is authoritative, your content is likely to be direct, trustworthy, and backed by research. For each characteristic, make a list of dos and don’ts so everyone is on the same page about which voice to use.
Let’s look at some of the things you need to consider when crafting the voice you will use when you start writing 2020 content.
Will Your Language be Formal or Informal?
Your tone will vary somewhat depending on context and platform. However, it’s helpful to identify the level of formality you want to reach in most cases and decide how much you’re willing to dial it up or down. For example, your tone may be more formal in a whitepaper than it is on Twitter, but you’ll still want to sound professional. Formal language conveys respect and authority, but it can lack personality so many brands prefer to strike a balance.
Where Do You Stand on Technical Language?
There may be occasions when you have to use technical terms, especially if you operate in a specialized area. However, if your target audience includes individuals who are not specialists, you should use everyday language wherever possible. You don’t want your content to sound like a textbook or product manual. Instead, you need to use your language to build a relationship and instill trust. That being said, be sure not insult your audience by oversimplifying concepts.
Will You Use Slang?
Your position here will depend a lot on your brand values and the type of business you have. If you want to stay current and add some personality to your content, you may want to use slang. However, keep in mind that popular words and phrases change frequently, and colloquialisms and pop culture references can date your content. They’re best for tweets and other types of content that have a short lifespan. Avoid using slang in evergreen content which someone will read a year or two from now.
How Do Your Customers and Prospects Speak?
Your voice should represent your brand values, but you also need to think about your target audience. What brand voice would they best respond to? If you’re not sure, consider setting up focus groups or interviews with your customers. Ask them about what comes to mind when they think of your brand. Alternatively, take a look at the social media messages or emails they send to you and analyze the language they use. Look for any commonalities between the messages. This will help you to get a better idea of how your audience wants to be spoken to as you go about writing content in 2020. Keep in mind that different platforms attract different demographics so the language and formality may vary.
Once you’ve decided on a voice that reflects your brand and resonates with your audience, you need to ensure that all your content creators are on board. Everyone needs to know how to write using your voice no matter which platform they’re using. If you work with a content agency to generate some of your content, written brand guidelines can help to ensure your messaging is consistent. You may need to tweak your voice as your brand evolves or your industry changes. Meet with your team regularly to evaluate what’s working and what may need to be changed as you go about writing content in 2020.