Experienced marketers know the power of branding for boosting customer engagement and driving sales. But a strong brand is about far more than a slick logo and some eye-catching advertising.
For brand building to be truly effective, it should spread across the entire marketing spectrum, and it needs to maintain a high degree of consistency as it does so. This is just as important in content marketing as in any other field. Each piece of content you produce needs to speak with your brand’s voice, reinforcing its identity and building trust, recognition, and loyalty.
How can you best ensure this happens across an entire content campaign? It means taking a methodical approach, starting from brand-building basics.
1. Define Your Brand Personality
If you haven’t yet formally set out the details of your brand personality, now is the time to do so. This will help to define the voice to use in your content.
What type of brand image are you hoping to project? How does it differ from your competitors’ branding efforts? It’s a useful exercise to write down four or five adjectives which you want to convey, such as trustworthy, edgy, clever, or exciting.
2. Define an Ideal Customer Persona
The next step is to define your ideal customer. When producing content true to your brand’s voice, keep this imaginary reader in mind, and work as though you were writing specifically for them.
What drives their interests? What problems or pain points do they have? What’s their typical age, lifestyle, financial status, and so on? It makes both marketing and writing sense to know exactly the type of person you’re trying to connect with.
3. Compile a Brand Style Guide
With a brand identity description and an ideal buyer persona in place, you can now put together a brand style guide to be used by all content creators. Setting the brand’s characteristics down in a single reference document helps to maintain consistency, whether you’re creating the content yourself or working with a team of writers.
A style guide should contain at least the following information:
– A description of the general tone to use when writing. For example, should it be chatty, formal, humorous, highbrow, conservative, or trend-conscious?
– A list of specific words and phrases to use or avoid. For example, you may want to use phrases that evoke your company’s slogan while avoiding those that hint at a competitor’s branding.
– What level of idiom usage is appropriate, and which specific idioms are encouraged or disallowed? Set up a list for content creators to reference as they write. This needn’t introduce strict constraints, but compiling a detailed overview helps writers get a feel for the required tone.
– How should you approach the more technical aspects of writing? For example, do you encourage contractions? Is first-person wording permissible or to be avoided? Should you address the reader directly with “you” or maintain a more formal distance?
It may seem clinical and prescriptive to set out a brand style in this way, but it’s a great help in maintaining consistency. If you have multiple writers working on a brand they need to keep their tone synchronized, while individual writers will need to switch between different brands’ voices for each client. A condensed guide in black and white makes achieving both of these more reliable.
4. Set Branding Usage Guidelines
Also, specify which types of content should closely follow the style guide, and those for which a more neutral approach is better.
For example, social media content will usually be highly on-brand, maintaining the distinctive voice. However, customer support content should probably be more direct and to the point, keeping distracting personality in the background while providing solutions for the reader.
5. Assign an Editor
Lastly, if your project has the resources, it’s useful to assign an editor to review each piece of content for brand voice accuracy. For smaller projects where this isn’t feasible, at least have each piece checked by a second writer. It’s easy for individual writing styles to sneak in, and while this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it mustn’t be at the expense of a consistent voice.
You should always strive to avoid formulaic writing when producing content, but setting ground rules in a style guide is vital. If you want to build a strong identity your customers will come to recognize and trust, you need to ensure your content speaks with a distinctive, consistent voice, no matter which writer is producing each piece.
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