If you read any of my blogs or social posts, you’ll know that I’m always harping on about how people don’t buy brands, they join them. And frankly, they simply can’t join a brand if they just don’t understand who the brand is or what they stand for. I particularly enjoyed reading this guest post by Bethany Joy all about how to ensure you make the most of your communications outreach and make a stand for who you are as a brand. Read on to find out more from Bethany and consider the below before you start on your PR journey…
The slow-motion galloping of the black Lloyds TSB horse is basically imprinted on my retinas – but I don’t bank with them. My social media scrolling is often interrupted by sponsored posts about femcare brand Flo – but I don’t use their tampons. And I’ve lost count of the number of blogs and style pieces I’ve seen promoting Boohoo (their matching dog and owner sweaters seem to be all the rage at the moment) – but I don’t buy their clothes.
Just because I’ve heard of you, doesn’t mean I’m going to buy from you. Hundreds of brands get brought to my attention every day – but if they don’t strike a chord with me, I won’t become a customer.
And I use the phrase ‘strike a chord’ deliberately. Because these days people aren’t just thinking about the product or service they’re buying – they’re thinking about who they’re buying it from.
Just like how in person-to-person relationships we’re drawn to those we have something in common with, so people are drawn towards brands they feel share their values, sense of humour, purpose or worldview. That sense of connection is a huge part of what inspires us to buy in. (Check out this recent study if you’re not happy to take my word for it – you can take the word of almost 30,000 consumers instead!)
So, if you want people to have that sense of connection with your brand, it’s not enough just to get your name out there – you’ve got to find a way to show the personality and values of your business. And what’s the best tool you have to show people those things, whether in your marketing campaigns and news coverage or on your website and social media posts?
And I don’t mean just shoehorning in a bunch of adjectives, telling people you’re ‘world-leading’ or ‘customer-focused’ or ‘innovative’. I mean learning to use language to demonstrate those attributes (or some more original ones). I mean going beyond writing generically ‘good’ copy and instead communicating in a unique and compelling way that expresses your organisational personality, sets you apart from your competitors, and connects with your audience as people.
In other words, you need to think about your brand voice.
How do you need to speak to people if you want them to see your business as empowering, authoritative, quirky, dignified, cheeky, insightful, reassuring, or happy-go-lucky?
I can’t tell you that. (Well, I mean, obviously I can, it’s literally my job – but I mean I can’t tell you right now.) Because it’s not a one-size-fits-all thing. There’s no easy answer.
It starts with getting to grips with the DNA of your brand. Why do you do what you do? What kinds of things are important to your company? What kind of attributes define how you go about your business? Brand voice isn’t about randomly picking a fun-sounding writing style or, worse, just copying someone else’s. Your voice is supposed to express something of who your business is – so as well as engaging, it needs to be authentic.
There’s also thinking to be done about who you’re trying to connect with. What kind of humans are your audience? What kind of language will they recognise and respond to? What sorts of words and phrases will draw them in or put them off?
Your competitors come into the equation too. What’s their style of communicating? What elements of your organisational personality might be the best ones to emphasise if you want your sound to stand apart from theirs?
But for now, what’s our takeaway? Investing in getting your brand seen and heard by your target audience is a brilliant and an entirely necessary process. I mean, it’s sort of hard for people to buy stuff from you if they don’t know you exist. But PR will only be money well spent if people feel enough of a connection with what they hear to inspire them to buy in. And the key to making that connection is your brand voice.
Words by Bethany Joy, brand voice crafter and wordsmith extraordinaire over at bethanyjoy.org