Gone are the days when companies could hide behind a few carefully crafted collateral pieces as their main form of expression. (e.g. "Here, take one of our brochures.") With the advent of the internet, blogging, YouTube, podcasting and a plethora of social media., companies are now expected to talk, (and talk, and talk!) But this new found need for expression requires more than a preponderance of words. It's not like writing your English composition paper, when you received a passing grade based on the volume of pages written. In fact, it's just the opposite.
Speak with purpose
Communicating your brand message effectively requires a "voice." It means writing from a certain "center" inside yourself and/or your company, a place of meaning and deep conviction. It's the reason you get up in the morning, the thing that puts a bounce in your step, that rallies the troops, that brings satisfaction to your company as a whole. It's what gives you and your employees a buzz and makes your customers smile. And that requires an understanding of just who you are and what you are on task to do. Surprisingly, many business owners don't know this answer. They are about the business of getting business and have lost that original spark that stirred their passion. And without that passion, that sense of purpose and direction, no wonder it's difficult to speak! It borders on a form of stage fright, where the main objective is to not make a fool of oneself. You see it all the time in meandering blog posts, meaningless Tweets and wandering web copy. The vitality is missing in the message.
Get some personality
Customers relate to company brands just like they do to other people. They want to know your company's personality. So begin by being yourself, and speaking in a way that's comfortable and consistent. There are no right and wrong brand voices. The only mistakes are...
1) not having a brand voice (going silent and simply avoiding the conversation)
2) having an inconsistent brand voice (creating a schizophrenic brand personality)
A recent example of this marketing psychosis was a trail lawyer that had ads touting respect, admiration, reputation and integrity. Moments later a second ad would run showing a man with his leg in a cast being loaded on the top of a station wagon by his wife. Either approach (serious or humorous) would work, but not both. It's inconsistent. Geico does an excellent job of consistently weaving a comedic message throughout their branding, from lizards to cavemen. AllState is all serious with the "Are you in good hands" message.
Time to open up
What is your brand voice? Do you have one? If your brand were an actor or famous personality, which one would it be most like? Who's in charge of that messaging? Has this been articulated to your team, your staff, your marketing people? If there was ever a time to speak up, we are living in it. We have more ways than ever before to connect with core customers. And the voices that will be heard, recognized and remembered will be the ones that speak authentically and consistently.
About the author: With over twenty five years of company naming and branding expertise, Tungsten founder Phil Davis is a marketing and advertising veteran, having personally named over 250 companies, products and services worldwide. As a sought after branding expert, Phil has been quoted in The Wall Street Journal, Inc.com, Businessweek, Entrepreneur, and Newsday.