When building your business there are so many elements to consider, I wonder how much thought you gave to branding?
Did you pay a Graphic Designer for your perfect logo, find one online or create one yourself? And is that all your brand is?
If we’re to listen to Jeff Bezos (and on this occasion I think we should)
Your brand is what others say about you when you leave the room.
How do you want other people to feel when they think of you? Your work? Your company? This is what you want your branding to represent.
And when we look at it like that, it’s easier to see why branding is about so much more than a logo, the right colours or some images.
So, branding isn’t just about a visual representation of your company, it’s everything your company does to create that emotional impact, that memory or feeling, which will stay with those who come into contact with you.
While people will (hopefully) recognise your business from your logo, until they’ve established a relationship with you, or your company, they won’t actually have any emotional connection to it. Branding is your way to build that emotional connection or relationship.
For small businesses and solos, when people are visiting your shop or meeting you at networking events, most of that ‘relationship building’ is done face to face.
But in an increasingly online world we’re establishing trust in companies and service providers we’ve never met – through their presence, and our interactions, online.
When we think of branding in terms of that trust factor, then, it’s easy to see how your communication, including your ongoing written communication, is such a strong part of building your brand. Every interaction you have with your potential client or customer is an opportunity to make a good – or bad – impression.
Why do we talk about tone and voice in branding and written communication?
Going back to our face to face interactions, most of us will be aware of the theory that your communication is about much more than just the words you use. The impact of your words is determined directly by your tone of voice. When in person, the listener will judge the truth and meaning behind your words through how you present them, but can the same be said of written communication?
Yes, it can.
While it may seem difficult to see how we find – or present – meaning from the tone of words on a page, that is in fact something we all do when we read. Without even knowing we’re doing it, we will be processing the text – reading and understanding the words themselves, but also considering the phrasing as well how they match our previous encounters with this speaker, author or brand to judge consistency.
Hopefully you’ll see how we’ve gone back to my previous point about branding being a reflection of the relationship we’re building through our communication.
Again, each of our interactions with our audience is an opportunity for our relationship to get stronger or weaker. This is why we need to consider – even in our writing – not just what we say but how we say it.
What do you need to develop your brand voice?
- Firstly, You Need Consistency
This whole article has been about building trust, a relationship, and that doesn’t happen in one interaction. For a relationship to build, the reader needs to recognise these communications as coming from the same company – inconsistencies will cause friction.
This isn’t about creating a standard template for your tweets, this is across all your channels. If you were to review the text on your website, emails and across all social media platforms, would they feel consistent?
Would a reader who found you on LinkedIn and visited your website recognise your voice? And if they called you on the phone, would they get the same impression?
Will You Review Your Communications for Consistency?
- Next, Consider Your Audience
This may seem to call into question the previous point, as your audience will potentially be different across your communication channels.
I like this explanation from TwoRiversMarketing.com “What’s the difference between voice and tone? Think of it this way: You have the same voice all the time, but your tone changes. You might use one tone when you’re out to dinner with your closest friends, and a different tone when you’re in a meeting with your boss.”
Consider the different ways you speak to your children and your partner, even the difference between communicating in a networking environment and with an established client. Your voice doesn’t change, but the tone you use will.
In different situations and with different audiences your tone might change, reading something aloud will help you gauge the effect of the words and if you feel they are being used appropriately in this context.
- Know Who You Are
I was going to say – Be Yourself, because my instinct is that it’s hard work to present a front consistently and the simplest character to present is yours.
However our brand and our own individual personality are not the same – even for solo professionals – and of course it’s more complicated for a company of more than one.
So, knowing who you are is about identifying those characteristics you do want to present, characteristics which represent your brand.
Consider then how these characteristics will impact your language.
– If you want to be considered helpful, your language will be clear, but not patronising.
– To be friendly, you’ll use positive language but not be overly familiar or necessarily funny.
Consider what characteristics you’d like people to attribute to your brand. Once you’ve understood these you can think about how you might be able to convey them with your language and tone.
Communication is essential in building your brand.
Developing your brand is reliant on creating the right feelings and it is clear this is built on a relationship developed through all your communications.
Understanding what you want your clients and audience to think of you, will help you focus your communication to build that persona.