Every successful brand worth following and learning from has gone through the painstaking process of developing its own voice. But when should a brand make that leap? Is there a right and a wrong way to do so? And how can you make sure that content you’re outsourcing is still consistent with your internal company voice? That’s where we come in. Let’s get started.
When Should You Worry About Voice?
The first phase of a company’s outbound communications are usually educational in nature — explaining themselves, the product, and disseminating white papers and eBooks to that effect. This is all important groundwork, and should take as long as you see fit.
Voice comes into play when you want to make the transition from explanatory and educational information to content marketing; work that will drive people towards you and your product on the virtue of its entertainment and interest value alone. And this is where you get to choose how you want to be viewed as an entity: Do you want to be seen as a prescient thought leader? Would you prefer a casual, energetic tone? Would you prefer to keep things direct and professional? All of this is in your control, but it all comes down to voice.
But Why Does Voice Matter?
While your organization and the work you do speaks louder than anything else, content marketing is all about creating various inroads back to your core brand by generating interest across a variety of channels. Communicating in an effective voice can serve as a way to transition your messaging from purely educational to entertaining and engaging.
Because that’s the goal: Taking your brand’s content marketing from something that’s merely readable to something that’s shareable.
If you keep your content educational and industry-specific, you will be able to pull reliable views from SEO and related brands and individuals. But if you can put your name on something people genuinely enjoyed reading and interacting with, they won’t just consume it — they’ll share it and spread the gospel for you.
So you need a voice that people can engage with on a share-worthy level, and that comes from a strong vision of who you are and what you want communicated to your audience on every level.
What Do You Want To Say?
When we talk about voice, we’re also talking about tone. The agreed-upon cadence and direction that your brand will have in all content marketing (and website copy, and social media) interactions with your audience. This is more art than science, so there are no bulletproof best practices here; what works perfectly for one organization could be a significant misstep for another.
Just to get you thinking, here are a trio of proven approaches to developing a brand voice.
Highlight Your Leaders
This is common in startups based around a key innovator (think of what Elon Musk is for Tesla), or non-profit organizations driven by a strong ideological push from a small group of individuals (Marc and Craig Kielburger from the WE Foundation). In a situation like this, the tone, voice, and key messaging of your brand is spearheaded by an individual or a small group, and is very much tailored to their own way of communicating.
This content marketing strategy revolves around complementing or replicating the voice of your most visible communicator, and going from there. This could be limited to blogs and outbound marketing, or be consistent across your social media and website copy as well. (For more on integrating voice into the framework of your website and app, please refer to the Content Upgrade available with this post.)
Amplify Your Work Culture
The collective attitude and vibe of a brand has become a non-trivial selling point for courting potential clients and employees. Whether there’s a specific feature of your organization that you’d like to highlight prominently (like an emphasis on remote work or personal development) or a top-down personality point that you want to embody (like Wendy’s celebrated Twitter account that cements them as the sarcastic troublemaker of the fast food industry), a strong sense of voice can help create an accurate picture of what it’s like to work for — or with — you.
This strategy places the spotlight on the team or company as a whole, with a voice that represents and speaks for you as a collective. Something like this feels more genuine coming from a smaller team, but it can be effective coming from a larger organization working under a strong and clear ideological mandate (think Toms) as well.
Cut Through The Jargon
A certain amount of professional jargon is unavoidable and to be expected when communicating the details of your brand. Industry white papers are rarely required to be as entertaining as they are informative, and there is nothing wrong with that.
But why limit your audience? It takes a deft hand, but the right tone of voice can turn a niche industry topic into something anyone would want to read and share. Passion is infectious when properly communicated, and that tone can be a huge difference maker for any organization specializing in a business or service that takes some time to accurately explain.
Many people are one eureka moment away from fully supporting and embracing the work you’re doing. Let your content get them to that moment.
Are There Any Downsides To Building A Brand Voice?
There are virtually no downsides to making factual information about your organization more engaging to read and increasing the likelihood that your content marketing efforts will be seen and shared. Of course, that’s if you do a good job of building a voice that’s suitable and authentic to your brand.
There are many downsides to adopting a voice that comes off as inappropriate, unprofessional, or insincere. It is one of those rare situations where not doing anything at all is objectively better than doing a poor job of it; cultivating a voice is much easier when you’re not simultaneously running damage control on something you just said.
The upsides are exponential, but the jump from conveying pure information to sharing your values and collective personality with the world at large is a significant one, and not to be taken lightly.
Luckily, you don’t need to worry about all of that alone. At Audience Ops, we see your brand voice as the natural extension of how you view your organization, and will work directly alongside you to create content that reflects who you are and how you wish to be portrayed.
It can be challenging to articulate what makes your organization special while also explaining what you do (and why it matters), but that’s where we come in. When you can make someone completely outside of your industry want to know more on the strength of a blog post and the compelling story of the brand behind it, your voice has officially resonated. We look forward to getting you there.
The path to figuring out what content voice is right for you is in no way limited to the examples listed above, but the first step will always be the same: Identifying how you want your audience to view and react to your content.
With this goal as our North Star, the team at Audience Ops can create content to that end, taking the pressure off your organization and bringing you nothing but results. We would love to discuss how our service can meet your needs, so contact us if you want to find your voice.