What Most Copywriters Get Wrong About Finding Your Brand Voice
We all want to stand out. And in a world dominated by the internet, you can’t rely on just having great interpersonal skills. The words on your site have to exude a personality of their own.
That causes a problem for many business owners. Because not everyone loves to write.
More than that, writing for yourself is hard, even if you have the skills.
If you’ve looked for help on this topic, you’re likely to have stumbled on an article telling you to define your brand’s voice. What does that actually mean?
To most copywriters or content strategists it means looking inwardly and defining your brand’s personality. The good old Google machine provides you with endless articles the subject like:
“5 easy steps to finding your brand voice”
“Finding your authentic brand voice”
“The best way to document your brand voice guidelines”
Here’s the problem with this content. Most of us don’t have large teams. And we aren’t sitting in a board room mulling over whether to use one word vs. another in ad copy.
More than that, these posts focus squarely on what makes you, you. That means you’re ignoring the most important person in your copy equation: your customer.
WRITING LIKE YOU TALK
Whether you say ‘hey girl” or “hey ya’ll” it doesn’t really matter.
Because your brand voice doesn’t have to sound exactly like you. It just needs to sound human.
Too often I see business owners looking to other brands they respect and emulating the way they speak to their customers without regard to whether they’re attempting to attract the same people. The result: a sea of cheerleader
rah rah messaging that sounds cute but doesn’t make anyone stand out.
Yesterday a quiz on finding your brand voice popped up on my feed. I checked it out to see how accurate it was. And while the results basically told me what I already knew, I couldn’t help but find the irony in objective of the quiz itself - taking a quiz to find out how to write to sound more like yourself.
We’ve become so obsessed with authenticity and speaking our truth that we’ve lot sight of the purpose of copywriting altogether: creating a bridge between your business and your ideal customer.
REFOCUSING YOUR ATTENTION
You may be thinking: sure, Kim, I hear you but a lot of influencers have created massive personal brands by just being themselves.
Hate to burst the bubble, but do you really think their online persona is who they are in real life? Do you think they don’t have an intentional brand and marketing strategy around who they’re trying to attract?
You could take the hard route, writing what you want to say with the notion that if someone doesn’t like you it’s their problem, not yours.
Or you could take the easier route: write in a way that resonates with your audience, which draws them in and makes selling (and making money!) a lot easier.
It’s your business and completely up to you.
HOW TO WRITE WHAT YOUR CUSTOMERS NEED TO HEAR
Sprout Social published survey results from 2017 listing the top three things customers want from brands. These were: honest, friendly, and helpful. They also included things businesses should avoid—causing customers to unfollow. These were being annoying or acting spammy.
If you’re a business I’m going to guess you’re already following these basic recommendations but are still grappling with how to convey your message.
The next step is to ask yourself these questions about your target market:
What keeps your ideal customer up at night?
What do they want more of? Less of?
Are they looking for DIY or done for you services?
How do you want them to feel when they find you?
As you start to look at the answers to these questions, you’ll get a sense for the tone you need to take with your messaging.
For instance, if your ideal client is someone who wants to learn how to do something so she can be empowered to change her business, your brand message may need to be casual and inspirational.
If your audience wants to hand over a task and get it done, like yesterday, maybe your brand voice needs to be matter-of-fact or professional.
As you nail down your ideal clients’ needs and desires, here’s a reference for common brand voice attributes you can refer to that will resonate with them:
Matter of Fact
Whether your customers are looking to be entertained, educated, or informed, identify 3-4 brand attributes and stick with them. Once you know your audience, you’ll know how to talk to them consistently and persuasively—in every blog post, email newsletter, and web page that follows.