It’s probably the last thing that anyone thinks about. When you’re setting up a brand for your business – whether that’s offering cloud-based services, a digital media machine like ourselves, or just a niche online store selling clothes for pet guinea pigs – there are numerous things that often go into the checklist of things that need to be done before you can consider the work on the brand complete. Rarely does the ‘voice’ of the brand ever cross anyone’s mind.
But when it comes to creating copy for the website, are you thinking about the language you’re using? Are you thinking about the image that your content is presenting to the world? Using the right voice is a powerful tool for portraying your brand in the way that you want it to be seen, but if you don’t make a conscious effort to figure out what that actually is, you’ll fall into the trap of coming across as disingenuous or – worse still – just plain confusing.
Getting the Writers On Board
While the decision of what the right tone of voice for a brand actually is comes from the top, it’s the copywriters and editors that actually enforce it. That’s why it’s crucial for us to let our colleagues know what the right sort of language to use is, and why we chose to do it. If the writers are aware of the reasoning, they’re more likely to implement the best language to facilitate that when working on an article.
Convincing writers isn’t always easy since everyone has their own personal preferences, but we don’t quash that. Instead, we just give guidelines on the sort of we aim for with our brands. Explaining that one of our websites favor a ‘casual, conversational language l tone’ – as we try to aim for with our Best Reviews site – is an easy way to get the writer to think about using simple, understandable, and yet friendly phrasing to make the copy appeal to the most people possible.
There are also the style guides we use too, our own internal bibles that help us to dictate some of the ways that all of our writers across all our websites should be writing. This might involve directly detailing no-go terms or phrases, in our case the likes of ‘thus’ or ‘the aforementioned’ – perfectly valid words that are just a bit too formal to fit into our tone of voice.
A Watchful Eye
Perhaps the most important part of all of this is the fact that while we don’t try to control our writers’ personal styles, there are of course processes in place to ensure that our chosen brand voices are adhered to.
There are a number of steps before an article is published on our websites, and while this is primarily to ensure quality of the content and to reduce mishaps from our non-native English colleagues, it’s also to help maintain a universal tone of voice across all of the articles we produce.
Our editors are especially important for this since they have to know when to edit out particular misappropriate words and when to keep them. It’s a fine line between the editor’s own personal style and understanding what does and doesn’t fit into the brand voice.
A Time to Change
But that’s not to say it’s a strict rule. If we think again of our ‘casual, conversational tone’ that we try to maintain with the majority of Best Reviews’ content, it’s still important to acknowledge the breadth of the content we produce.
A review, for example, needs an element of this fun to help keep the reader interested, while topics like pet insurance or photo editing naturally lend themselves to a less serious audience. Covering online accounting software, however, is more likely to result in content aimed as business professionals; the sort who will have a greater patience for more matter-of-fact copy so long as they can quickly find the info they need.
Even within particular industries, the brand’s tone needs to become more neutral when presenting crucial information or when writing about topics that might be sensitive to some of our readers. Having an awareness of all these interconnecting parts means we’ll more ably present a strong brand voice, one that we hope will keep readers engaged and coming back for more.