Finding your brand voiceRight off the bat, describe to me your brand voice. If you’re left stuttering, it suggests the tone you adopt for your content fluctuates, making it a struggle for customers to get a firm grasp of your brand and what it stands for.

Whether you produce your content in-house or you outsource the job to an agency, it’s crucial that the writer has a strong sense for your brand and is capable of applying that know-how into the written word. Only then will you be able to position yourself as an easily identified and authoritative source within your industry.

In an age when everybody and their aunt is producing content, you can’t afford to merely stick with the pack. You’ve got to embrace what is unique about your company and run with it.

Identifying your brand voice is a good place to start, and the Content Marketing Institute (CMI) has taken the time to outline five steps that will see you “establish, create, and maintain a desired brand voice to drive consistency in your content creation efforts”.

Step 1: Gather a truckload of your content

When we say truckload, we mean truckload. Sure, it might take a bit of time to bring all your videos, web pages and e-books together, but we never said this was a quick job. Once you have all your examples at arm’s reach, identify which of those that could be classified as unique to your brand. Gather these examples into a pile and ask your content marketing team to assemble in the meeting room for the next step.

Step 2: Review your unique content

This is your chance to bring the content team together to discuss the common themes across your selected pieces of content. What works? What doesn’t work so well? If you were to humanise your brand, how would you describe its personality? What characteristics make your brand unique?

They might sound like pretty straightforward questions but they often go unsaid, with most firms feeling like they’re having to play catch-up on content and therefore ‘streamline’ the preparation process. Now’s the chance to fill in the gaps – better late than never.

Step 3: Create a brand voice chart

We can’t take any credit at all for this suggestion – it’s all CMI’s work – but that’s not to say we won’t be using it. Once you’ve defined your brand voice, it’s time to create a brand voice chart, which makes concrete and fleshes out those characteristics you identified in step two.

Alongside each characteristic, describe how it applies to your brand specifically, followed by do’s and don’ts columns. Make it the go-to document for writers to ensure they truly understand what it is that characterises your brand – it’ll save a good deal of time in the long run, not to mention make your content efforts so much more effective.

Step 4: Bring the chart to the writers

You can’t expect just to be able to upload your brand voice chart onto the shared drive and have it make complete sense. Sit down with your writers – or get them on the phone if you outsource – and walk them through the chart, bringing in some examples to illustrate your point.

It wouldn’t hurt to show them some poor examples too, as a means to highlight what it would take to bring these in line with the brand voice.

Step 5: Regularly review the brand voice chart

The brand voice chart is not set in stone. Naturally, as your business evolves, so should your messaging. Every few months, bring the marketing team together in order to review whether the chart is still relevant – bearing in mind new competitors and feedback from the social media team (as they are the ones sharing the content, therefore gauging customer engagement).

Ben Hollom

October 23, 2015