Is your company voice consistent?
Friday, July 20, 2018
You have pantone references for your corporate colours, style guides for the use of your logo. But what about some clarity around your “voice”? In this post, I consider why a consistent voice is important and what elements can help you to achieve this.
When someone reads your website or your brochure, they are hearing your voice in their heads. This is who you are to them. Coupled with visual representation, it creates a picture about your company, your values, your strengths, your style of doing business. And so, why do so many companies give it so little attention?
Why consistency is a powerful thing
If you saw a company using four different versions of their logo, you’d criticise them. How sloppy! How unprofessional! What a weak way to present their image.
Now, let’s look at the words. You might have a handful of people writing copy for your business, or just one. Are they all writing with the same voice in mind? Surely, it’s sloppy to have an inconsistent voice? Unprofessional even?
We know that a clear and consistent company image is a powerful resource. It creates a clear message to your audience. Subsequent sightings of it via different marketing routes act to reinforce your stance at every step.
Your company’s character
So, what is your company all about then? Think about how you wish to come across. You might opt for a more formal and authoritative style, or you might wish to be more casual and approachable. This decision will depend on many factors and you should consider them all:
- The type of industry you’re in. Highly technical B2B industries might wish for a more authoritative voice, for example.
- The profile of your audience. A formal voice for a B2C audience might seem a little stand-offish.
- What your competitors are up to. You might wish to plough the same furrow as them or stand apart and be different.
- The characters and internal culture of the company. Richard Branson could never reflect a formal voice.
- First person or third person? I prefer first person, but it doesn’t work for every business.
You can make your voice a distinct character of your company. Innocent did a good job of this in the early days and many other food brands have now followed their lead.
What are your “buzzwords”?
Within your copy, think about the types of words you wish to use to describe yourself, your products and services. Think about words that would resonate well with your audience. For example, if luxury products are your focus, you might wish to use vocabulary that includes words such as distinguished, opulent, refined, indulgent and so on. Should the opposite be true and you compete on price, opt for words such as best value, discount, cheap and bargain.
The same can be done for B2B services, once you’ve established who you are, what you’re providing and who your audience is. Maybe you wish to convey your expertise, unrivalled knowledge, decades of experience, thought leadership and market-leading service?
Develop a list – maybe 20 or 30 buzzwords and phrases that you wish to weave into your copy to communicate the stance of your voice. There’s no need to be repetitive, but by drawing on such a simple resource, you’ll ensure some consistency in your style.
How to resolve an inconsistent voice
It’s easy to fall foul of a muddled message and a voice that’s not clear. Don’t despair, the situation can be resolved. Some of the aforementioned advice should help you to start the process of determining what you want the end result to be.
You then need to determine if the person (or people) currently writing your copy have the capability and the time to work on this together as a team. Or, do you need some outside help? Opting for the services of an experienced freelance copywriter can help you make good progress – perhaps resolving existing problem areas and drawing up a plan on how you can go forward.
Think about how you might address the challenge of an inconsistent visual image. You’d give thought to what your objective should be, you’d call on the expert services of a designer and you’d carefully start to revise the areas that are most inconsistent. Your voice, and indeed, your copy is no different. And equally important.
Should you need any help, you know where I am.