Part of developing a great voice for your brand is balancing creativity with consistency. Your brand voice doesn’t necessarily have to be predictable; it just has to be solid. Making this a reality, however, can be a challenge. Maintaining your voice throughout your brand content is an art. You’re likely working with several different writers, on different platforms, on different subjects, and so the road to consistency isn’t always straightforward.
So what’s the solution? Here’s why it matters and how to maintain consistency.
Consider an extreme example: If you publish one piece of content with a humorous, entertaining tone and then another that is a long, didactic piece with thick paragraphs and an academic tone, people will be confused. Do they visit your blog for entertainment or education? It doesn’t matter if this content is side-by-side on your blog or published on two entirely different platforms (e.g., a social media post and a guest post). Likely the biggest reason that maintaining your voice matters is still clear: People want to be able to have an idea of what they are about to read before actually clicking.They want to know they can trust the consistency of your content.
If they are loyal readers, it’s likely because they like the tone of your content. Unpredictability isn’t worth it for a brand with an audience. In other words, it helps you keep your readers coming back for more. It’s OK to change things up every once and a while, but maintaining a consistent voice overall is important.
A brand voice should coincide with the audience you’re writing for, which can get confusing because sometimes your audience slightly changes. If this is the case, it’s OK for your voice to change slightly, too; however, in most situations your audience should be similar enough that you maintain some overall consistency. Your audience may act differently on social media than when they are researching at work, for example, but it’s still the same audience you’re keeping in mind.
Keeping it Consistent
Below are three key considerations to keep in mind when working to maintain your voice in brand publishing:
1. Before, during and after writing, always ask yourself who you’re targeting.
This is a trick when you’re trying to find your voice, which you can learn more about here, but it works just as well when you’re trying to maintain it. As you’re writing, actively think about who you’re writing for and what your tone should be. After a while, this will come natural.
If you’re a writer who is writing in the style that the brand requires and this isn’t your normal tone, this point is especially important. It will come more naturally in time, but asking yourself this question during the entire writing process is key to getting there.
2. Have one editor look over all content.
Having an editor look over all of the content published, specifically for voice, is the ideal situation. This is about as consistent as you get. A great editor is indispensable, especially in brand publishing.
Realistically, this isn’t always possible. Again, voice means everything that your brand says on the web, no matter what the outlet. As your company starts to grow, looking over everything that is said can get tough for just one editor. In this case, have several editors crosscheck all content. Each editor may not get to everything, but ensure that everything published has at least two or three people looking at it for voice.
I recommend creating a Google spreadsheet with a few different categories, or in this case tabs for editors to help stay organized. Below is an example:
Some companies have far too many spreadsheets happening, so if that’s the case for your company you may want to use an editorial calendar and have each editor write a note once they’ve checked the content. Below is a screenshot from the WordPress Editorial Calendar plugin:
Trello is also an excellent tool for marketers. It can help you create columns of content and then allows each member, in this case each editor, to move the article over when it has been checked. Due dates can also be used, and you can even assign certain tasks to certain people, which is shown below by the red arrow.
However, for this purpose I would recommend just allowing editors to go in and move things around as they complete them, which is shown in the screenshot below. You can also have multiple boards, so I recommend having one board for each of the tabs shown in the first screenshot above. In other words, tabs indicating where content is found.
3. When hiring new writers, look for their voice in sample articles.
Your writers are the backbone to your brand voice, so you have to make sure you’re hiring smart right off the bat. The truth is that a good writer can write in any style you ask of them, so you have to make sure that you’re giving candidates that chance. Brief writers on your brand voice and have them write sample articles demonstrating that style before you hire them.
You may also want to ask the candidate to identify what they think the voice of your brand is by researching and reading your website to gain a little bit of insight. If a writer can’t figure it out, you’ve got some work to do, so ask for suggestions and hire accordingly.
As for training, voice should be a part of the process. If you already have an established voice that needs maintain, outline this in your training program and provide samples.
In the end, maintaining your brand’s voice is incredibly important, but it won’t mean much if you’re not writing about relevant topics and producing quality that your clients actually want to read. Content can be about information, entertainment or whatever you wish, but it has to be something that your audience can connect with. In other words, having a content strategy (which you can learn more about here) will likely come before you solidify your brand’s voice.
On that same note, establishing a solid voice is going to take a while. If you aren’t happy with the direction your brand’s voice is going, change it! Be gradual and work hard until you find a good rhythm that works for you and your audience. Once you do, maintain it while continuing to refine it.
Do you have any tips for maintaining your brand’s voice? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below.