Your brand’s voice should be unified across all your content to accurately reflect your brand persona.
I was reading a statement of work for a project I was joining and could tell immediately who had written it. At the time, our desks were across from each other, “Brad, you wrote this SOW didn’t you?” I asked. His initial response was “You make me so self-conscious about my writing.”
My past life as a high school English teacher occasionally makes my colleagues uneasy; he was prepared to hear me criticize his punctuation. To his relief, it wasn’t because of anything “bad” in his writing that allowed me to identify him as the author. I knew it was him because it sounded like him; I heard his voice as I read. There were words and phrases he uses frequently, and the sentences reflected the way he speaks conversationally. His personality, or voice, was present in the writing.
Hearing an author’s voice while reading isn’t limited to people you know. Voice reflects the personality of the person or organization speaking to you. An individual’s personality is often easily conveyed in face-to-face conversation, and the same is true online through their voice.
Organizations and individual brands need to have a clear, singular voice in their content in order to engage with their audiences. However, many organizations have either an inconsistent voice or one that is empty.
When a brand’s content is generated by a variety of people, the organization’s voice may be inconsistent. There may be too many people “talking.” When it comes to branding, your customers don’t get a clear sense of who you are if your voice is inconsistent.
When a brand lacks a voice, it lacks personality. The brand appears impersonal, and customers take notice. This may not directly hurt the bottom line, but it certainly won’t help. Have you experienced an automated phone system when calling customer service? No matter how human-like the voice, I have yet to encounter one that has a personality or makes me feel like the organization values my business. Your content shouldn’t feel automated either.
So what causes an organization to come off as unfeeling or devoid of personality? Think back to your experiences writing research papers in high school and college. You were probably taught to write in third person in order to appear unbiased, to avoid second person because it was too informal, and to avoid first person because it was immature and self-involved. (Yes, I’m about to blame your English teachers for this one.) Academia calls for being impersonal and detached.
In business, detachment turns off clients and prospects alike. Your organization’s content should read as a conversation with your audiences– a conversation where only one voice is heard and represents your brand’s personality and values.
Your brand’s voice should be included as part of your brand standards and should include key attributes that need to come across in your content and key phrases that are significant to your identity. Create a persona for your brand and write through the perspective of that persona. Before publishing content in the name of the brand, check it against the brand attributes your team has established. If it doesn’t sound like your brand’s persona, tweak it until it does.
Creating your unified voice comes through knowing your organization and your brand. It requires you to “become one” with your brand. When your audience connects with your brand’s persona, you know you have established your unified voice.