This article has been contributed by Abhishek Talreja.
“Stay true to your values. That’s why you were a success in the first place, and that’s how you make incredible things happen.” Rafe Offer
Publishing and promoting unicorn content isn’t about the consistency of the process alone. A key element of successful content marketing is the brand voice.
A content marketing voice is a key distinguishing factor that makes branded content stand out from the competition. But let’s first understand the meaning and importance of brand voice.
Internet marketing What is a Brand Voice?
Every time they see your brand message, a brand voice evokes a specific emotion among the audience. It creates a single impression in terms of emotion and personality.
- A brand voice comes across as an expression of the people behind the company. In a way, it tells their story.
- A unique brand voice distinguishes your business in a crowd of competitors. It creates a distinct culture and taste — something a specific audience can recognize and relate with.
- A unique voice builds trust with prospects and customers.
- A focused brand voice helps to evoke strong feelings among buyers and encourages them to make a purchase decision.
Internet marketing Why is it Essential to Align Content Marketing with Brand Voice?
According to a new report by media agency Havas, 60% of the content created by the world’s leading 1,500 brands is “just clutter” that has little impact on consumers’ lives or business results.
In today’s time, when the internet is full of me-too content, you don’t want your content efforts to get lost in the crowd.
However, most successful brands and companies realize the importance of powerful branding. They work hard to invest in building a robust brand personality.
Repetitive brand messages become a promise to create a certain level of tangible and emotional fulfillment. A strong brand character plays a huge role in fetching recurring new business.
On the other hand, if you did not have a distinct content marketing voice, your content could feel incomplete — stuff with the following symptoms:
- Disconnected website messaging
- Messy and distorted content
- Inconsistent writing and visuals
- Grammatical and language errors
With a unique voice, branded content evolves as an entity that creates recall as well as audience loyalty. It’s through a consistent tone and voice that you can produce authority content – an essential part of a winning content strategy.
Internet marketing How To Integrate a Strong Brand Voice Into Your Content Strategy
Take the following steps to infuse a strong brand voice in your branded content marketing efforts:
1. Discover Your Brand Purpose
Every business exists for a larger purpose. A business owner starts with a seed idea — a plan to bring about change in the lives of one or many groups of people. It is how you build a relationship with prospects and customers.
A brand purpose is beyond numbers such as revenue and profit — it works as a motivation to continue doing the business even when the waters aren’t as easy. In this video, Simon Sinek explains the importance of exploring the ‘Why’ of your business. An intelligent audience can quickly figure out if your intentions aren’t authentic, and you don’t want that to happen.
An understanding of the ‘Why’ is about going back to your vision, mission and core values. It’s about exploring your roots.
In the process of discovering your brand story, here are some questions you need to ask:
- What are the significant gaps in your industry?
- What is it that you’re offering and how is it different from others in your niche?
- How are your products and services, changing the lives of your customers?
- What are some of the values that you feel strongly about?
- What are the emotional benefits of your products and services?
- Why would customers love your brand?
Answering these questions help you to create a brand purpose statement. A unique story lays the foundation to start building a brand voice.
2. Find Your Brand Archetype
An archetype or a persona helps to understand a brand at a deeper level. Carl Jung, the famous Swiss Psychologist, identified 12 classic brand archetypes or personas.
These personas match human personality types: The Innocent, The Everyman, Hero, The Outlaw, The Explorer, The Creator, The Ruler, The Magician, The Lover, The Caregiver, The Jester and The Sage.
Similar to humans, a brand personality and voice are intertwined—each personality has a natural voice and style. Most existing brands fall under one or more of these brand archetypes. Take a look at some of these examples:
- The Hero: Nike, BMW, Duracell
- The Explorer: Jeep, Red Bull REI
The following visual shows how some famous brands fall into a distinct brand archetype:
Here are some steps to find your brand archetype:
- Know your personality as a business owner.
- Make a list of your brand’s core emotional values.
- Pick up a primary and a secondary archetype that goes most with your brand.
Audiences are attracted to personalities inside brands, and that’s why an archetype helps to make a brand more human. It’s a vital step in imparting branded content marketing a distinct voice.
3. Draw Audience Personas
One of the things that many businesses lack while doing content marketing is a set of well-defined audience personas. A content voice needs to resonate with specific groups of people, and not everyone. You need to start by putting yourself in the audience’s shoes. Start by asking the following questions:
- What is the demographic profile of the target audience?
- What are their key goals, challenges, interests and preferences?
- Enlist their personality traits and emotional triggers?
- Take note of their daily activities and behavioural traits?
Here’s a simple example of an audience-persona:
Image source: blog.alexa.com
Audience personas help to delve deeper into the needs and preferences of potential customers. When you know and empathize with a target group, it’s easy to communicate with them better. Plus, you can build a content marketing voice that connects with the audience and creates the desired impact.
4. Choose Your Content Channels
It’s easy to reach a targeted audience through multiple online channels. You have access to many free-to-publish content marketing platforms. Having a set of focused content channels helps to maintain a consistent tone and style. One of the critical components of having your brand stand out is to win over your audience on just one or two content channels. Brands that do that consistently often stay ahead and become a prominent voice in their industry. This strategy helps to develop a content voice that’s consistent with your brand and that suits each of the channels.
Here are some common content marketing channels:
A blog is suitable for all types of B2B and B2C businesses. It’s a format that allows you to publish search-friendly content and build a loyal reader-base.
Image source: ardentgrowth.com
The social media marketing platform offers a broad audience and a free business page. You can even use the Facebook Groups feature to build a community of like-minded individuals or those belonging to a specific location. An excellent platform for reaching a B2C audience, Facebook works well for B2B companies as well.
LinkedIn works as the go-to platform for B2B businesses. It allows you to post updates, promote blog posts, publish native videos and articles. Privy is an excellent example of a B2B brand that uses LinkedIn to power its content marketing efforts:
With the rise of video content, YouTube has gained substantial ground. You can get quick visibility for your business, by creating and publishing quality videos for your YouTube channel.
Instagram comes with an interface well-suited for visual marketing. The platform is an excellent fit for fashion, food and travel-related businesses.
There are a host of other platforms such as Twitter, TikTok, email, guest blogging and so on. Find two or three platforms that work well for your business. The idea is to achieve better business outcomes by matching the channel voice and content voice.
5. Document Your Brand Voice
Once you have defined your brand purpose, brand archetype, audience personas and content channels, you can start documenting your brand voice. Organize a brainstorming session to find emotional words and phrases that represent your brand voice. Here are some examples:
- Hubspot: Enthusiastic, Positive, Helpful
- Slack: Friendly, Clear, Concise
- Dollar Shave Club: Straightforward, Casual, Funny
- Mailchimp: Plainspoken, Genuine, Dry Humor
- Apple: Confident, Quality, Intimate
When developing your brand voice, you need to start an inward journey. Delve deep into your organizational culture. Your company’s values should reflect your brand voice. Boiling down to three words that represent your brand is a great way to own a distinct emotional real estate. The brand voice helps to create a bridge between a business and its audience – the medium, of course, is content marketing.
6. Develop Branded Content Guidelines
A content style guide works as the vital next step – it works as a ready reckoner for the content team. It includes the details of how to align the content strategy to the brand voice. A content style guideline has three elements: voice, tone, and style. The following diagram explains these three concepts.
Image source: impactbnd.com
- Pick out existing content pieces to understand which ones genuinely represent your brand voice. Use these as benchmarks for your content team.
- Define a set of dos and don’ts that will help the content team use a consistent voice. You need to create a document that translates emotional values into examples of text and visuals. The following image shows how to create a brand voice chart that explains brand goals into content voice.
- Add language nuances in the content style guideline document. An adaptive style guide includes instructions on how to change the tone for different audience segments and content channels.
- Include a section about jargon – it’s better to do away with complicated and ambiguous terms. Include phraseology that the audience will understand and appreciate.
- Add a formatting guide – convey how to use bullets, hyphens, quotes and lists. A style guide includes editorial rules such as how to treat certain punctuation and spellings. Although these are separate from content tone and voice, they can be an integral part of your guideline document. The idea is to give the team a manual that helps them maintain style consistency.
- Incorporate visual content into your brand identity style guide. As much as written text, it’s essential to make sure that the visuals are consistent with your brand voice. Add finer details such as color usage, logo placement and fonts.
- If you have an influencer marketing strategy, then make sure you create guidelines around how to find and work with the right influencers. Share examples of the type of influencer relationships that match your content voice. It’s essential to track each influencer for change in content tone and voice.
A detailed branded content document is a vital resource to maintain a consistent content marketing message and style.
6. Focus on the Implementation
After you have documented your content marketing voice, you may feel like most of the work is complete, but that’s not true. Here are some quick tips that will help your team follow your branded content guidelines:
- Make sure that you hire a content team that understands your brand values. For example, a content writer or a graphic designer whose interest areas are fashion and food may not fit well in a B2B content team and vice versa. Look for people who feel a strong connection with the brand and the organizational culture.
- Conduct a regular content audit to make sure that the content team produces pieces that adhere to the content guidelines.
- Regular appraisals and feedback help fix shortfalls and bring a level of accuracy.
- At the same time, allow your team a certain level of creative freedom. Help the team to evolve and produce content that meets quality benchmarks as well as the brand guidelines.
A significant part of aligning your content strategy with your brand voice is about achieving a high degree of consistency.
Internet marketing Final Thoughts
Don’t let branded content drown in the ocean of content available on the internet. Do the homework of building up a solid foundation – create a content marketing voice. It’s what honest and authentic brands do consistently.
Work diligently to discover your brand purpose and audience personas. Put effort into infusing your brand voice into each of your content pieces and be firm about the implementation. A consistent content voice is a sure shot winner – an essential way to get recurring sales for your business.
About the author: Abhishek Talreja is a passionate writer and an experienced content marketing expert. He has contributed to top marketing blogs and works with international companies as a content and branding coach. He is the founder of Prolific Content Marketing.