As tech marketers, we have an ever expanding repertoire of tools to learn about and talk to our audience. Marketing has evolved from mass media, to target segmentation to 1-2-1 conversations. Marketing automation software let’s us talk to individuals, tailoring messages that are relevant and timely. Yet talking like a human, and not a robot, becomes harder as people are more savvy and attuned to marketing messages.
When we talk about brand voice or personality, we’re really talking about how we communicate with each other. People speaking to people. A clear brand voice helps you stand out from the crowd. Your brand voice also creates familiarity which in turn builds trust and comfort.
Here are my tips for letting your brand voice shine…
1. Be consistent – multiple personalities are confusing
You don’t expect your friends to switch personality every time you catch up for coffee, the same goes for brand personalities. You can create consistency by providing clear guidance so that everyone in your team is comfortable using the brand voice. A great example of this is Mailchimp’s brand voice guide which is publishing publicly at voiceandtone.com.
This guide doesn’t tell people exactly what to say but provides enough information for people to speak on their behalf comfortably. The guide reminds marketers to imagine the users’ situation and emotions and tailor responses accordingly. This way they’ll always sound like Mailchimp but they won’t sound like canned responses.
2. Embrace your brand values
I often use Picmonkey to create quick collages for my blogs. There’s a myriad of free tools I could use but I keep returning to Picmonkey time and again. The site is a pleasure to use, it’s well designed and their cheeky, irreverent personality perfectly matches their values to a tee.
I’m a big believer in Simon Sinek’s theory of starting with “why”. That people are more interested in “why” you do something than “how” or “what” you do. You have to win them over with your purpose first. A genuine and lasting brand starts with your values. Distilled.net has a fantastic step-by-step guide for refining your brand voice based on your values.
At SilverStripe, one of our core values is honesty over comfort. We openly share our own mistakes and successes so others can learn from them. Being built around an open source software community makes us comfortable sharing, a lot. In our white papers we share frank and upfront advice. This deserves appropriate titles that matches the content and tone within so we let people know how to “peer review like-a-boss” and “boost their Agile mojo“.
3. Every word is a chance to let your personality shine
The most mundane communications can provide an opportunity to delight your reader. Take for example Slack’s developer release notes which add humour to the usual bland bug fix messages.
Slack’s editorial director Anna Pickard sums up their approach brand voice perfectly to Contagious.com:
“It is sometimes funny, sometimes serious, sometimes just plain and informative, but throughout, it should feel like nothing more than a person, talking to another person. Human to human.”
4. Read your words out loud
It’s easier to fall into the trap of writing like a robot than speaking like one. When you’re speaking out loud, think about whether you’d say this to a customer if they were sitting right in front of you? Some brands and products require a more formal tone than the examples in this post, but they should still sound like a person is behind them!
Who else is awesome at tech communications?
What other tech brands have distinctive brand voices? Let me know below!