Developing a recognizable voice for your brand is all about balancing creativity with consistency. Your brand voice doesn’t necessarily have to be predictable; it just has to be solid. Making this a reality, however, can be a challenge.
Table of Contents
In this article:
- Balancing creativity with consistency: Both are equally important for building brand recognizability
- A consistent voice helps readers know what to expect and builds trust in the brand’s content.
- While writing, continuously consider the target audience and adjust the tone accordingly.
- Use a consistent editorial process, preferably with a single editor who will cross-check all content to maintain the brand’s voice.
- Establishing a brand voice takes time. It’s crucial to refine it gradually, focusing on what works best for the brand and its audience.
Maintaining a strong voice throughout your brand content is an art. You’re likely working with several different writers, on different platforms, on different subjects, and so the road to consistency isn’t always straightforward.
So what’s the solution? Here’s why it matters and how to maintain consistency.
Voice matters in branded publishing
Consider an extreme branded publishing example: If you publish one piece of content with a humorous, entertaining tone and then another that is a long, didactic piece with thick paragraphs and an academic tone, people will be confused.
Do they visit your blog for entertainment or education? It doesn’t matter if this content is side-by-side on your blog or published on two entirely different platforms (e.g., a social media post and an interview). Likely the biggest reason that maintaining your voice matters is still clear: People want to be able to have an idea of what they are about to read before actually clicking.
They want to know they can trust the consistency of your content. If they are loyal readers, it’s likely because they like the tone of your content.
Unpredictability isn’t worth it for a brand with an audience. In other words, it helps you keep your readers coming back for more. It’s OK to change things up every once in a while, but maintaining a consistent voice overall is important.
A brand voice should coincide with the audience you’re writing for. This includes social media content, your executives’ interviews, and your customer support messages. Whether it is your personal brand or your business, maintaining consistent style and messaging is key to your brand’s success.
Take Trello, for example. Their official social media accounts have been consistently putting their product into the context of productivity and getting organized – which helps to promote the value of the tool itself. Another great example is Hari Ravichandran who has been publishing consistent content throughout various channels over the years talking about privacy and cybercrime, hence building awareness of his core platform, Aura.
Everything you say on behalf of your brand puts it into context and creates those associations that make your voice heard.
Keeping branded publishing consistent
Below are three key considerations to keep in mind when working to maintain your voice in brand publishing:
1. Before, during, and after writing, always ask yourself who you’re targeting
As you’re writing, actively think about who you’re writing for and what your tone should be. After a while, this will come naturally.
If you’re a writer who is writing in the style that the brand requires and this isn’t your normal tone, this point is especially important. It will come more naturally in time, but asking yourself this question during the entire writing process is key to getting there.
2. Have one editor look over all content
Having an editor look over all of the content published, specifically for voice, is the ideal situation. This is about as consistent as you get. A great editor is indispensable, especially in brand publishing.
Realistically, this isn’t always possible. Again, voice means everything that your brand says on the web, no matter what the outlet. As your company starts to grow, looking over everything that is said can get tough for just one editor.
In this case, have several editors crosscheck all content. Each editor may not get to everything, but ensure that everything published has at least two or three people looking at it for voice.
I recommend creating a Google spreadsheet schedule with a few different categories, or in this case, tabs for editors to help stay organized.
Some companies have far too many spreadsheets happening, so if that’s the case for your company you may want to use an editorial calendar and have each editor write a note once they’ve checked the content.
Trello is also an excellent tool for marketers. It can help you create columns of content and then allow each member, in this case, each editor, to move the article over when it has been checked. Due dates can also be used, and you can even assign certain tasks to certain people, which is shown below by the red arrow.
However, for this purpose, I would recommend just allowing editors to go in and move things around as they complete them, which is shown in the screenshot below. You can also have multiple boards, so I recommend having one board for each of the tabs shown in the first screenshot above. In other words, tabs indicate where content is found.
3. When hiring new writers, look for their voices in sample articles
Your writers are the backbone of your brand voice, so you have to make sure you’re hiring smart right off the bat. The truth is that a good writer can write in any style you ask of them, so you have to make sure that you’re giving candidates that chance.
Brief writers on your brand voice and have them write sample articles demonstrating that style before you hire them.
You may also want to ask the candidate to identify what they think the voice of your brand is by researching and reading your website to gain a little bit of insight. If a writer can’t figure it out, you’ve got some work to do, so ask for suggestions and hire accordingly.
As for training, voice should be a part of the process. If you already have an established voice that needs to be maintained, outline this in your training program and provide samples. Build effective workflows so that your writing process is better organized. There are quite a few great WordPress plugins that can be used for that.
In the end, maintaining your brand’s voice is incredibly important for a consistent digital marketing strategy, but it won’t mean much if you’re not writing about relevant topics and producing quality that your clients actually want to read.
Content can be about information, entertainment, or whatever you wish, but it has to be something that your audience can connect with. In other words, having a content strategy will likely come before you solidify your brand’s voice.
On that same note, establishing a solid voice is going to take a while. If you aren’t happy with the direction your brand’s voice is going, change it! Be gradual and work hard until you find a good rhythm that works for you and your audience. Once you do, maintain it while continuing to refine it.
Ann Smarty is the founder of Smarty Marketing, a boutique SEO agency based in New York, and Viral Content Bee, a social media promotion tool. Ann’s search engine optimization career began in 2010. She is the former editor-in-chief of Search Engine Journal and contributor to prominent search and social blogs, including Small Business Trends and Mashable.