As the New Year approaches and we’re all scrambling for a good resolution, why not review your website to ensure you’re using a consistent brand voice?
The content on your website has a personality, whether you want it to or not. This personality derives from your word choice, sentence length — and yes, even punctuation. When you make mindful, strategic decisions about these elements, they reinforce your brand’s personality and presence across all platforms. When you don’t, you run the risk of diluting your brand, confusing your customers and blending into the crowd. Collectively, these elements are known as your brand voice.
Brand voice is the way your brand speaks. Voice is often strongly informed by your company values, history, location and customer base.
While your voice shouldn’t change dramatically, your tone might shift depending on who you’re talking to or where you’re addressing them. For example, the tone on your website might change between pages where you address pre-and post-sale customers.
Here are four steps to creating a consistent brand voice:
Audit Your Existing Copy
Read. Everything. Note the formality or casualness of the language, the use of adjectives, calls to action and even repetitive usage of certain words and punctuation. Be as objective as possible. As a best practice, this information should be cataloged in a document or spreadsheet. This will help you identify both inconsistencies and patterns in the overall voice and tone.
Determine What Works & What Doesn’t
With the details in hand, now you can get subjective. What’s working? What’s not? What feels natural and true to your brand and what clunks or drags? Keep the goals of your content in mind and judge your language by how effectively it fulfills those goals while still sounding and feeling genuine.
Identify Adjectives Or Personality Traits
Now, take all that reviewing and analyzing, and select a few examples of copy that best exemplify the voice you’re going for — then identify three to five adjectives to describe what makes that work shine. Maybe it’s professional, trustworthy and flexible. Maybe it’s tongue-in-cheek, savvy and forward-thinking. If your brand has undergone a core values exercise, you may find some commonalities, but the results may surprise you. Keep an open mind.
Develop a Guide
Lastly, with the research done, the best-in-class samples collected, and some defining traits identified, you have everything you need to put together a solid brand voice guide. Be sure to include illustrative examples as you walk through what defines your unique voice, then apply those standards to your entire website.
These standards can also extend across your content platforms, but as with all New Year’s resolutions, it’s best to start with one thing at a time.
TAO thanks Conveyor for providing thought leadership on this subject