Every now and then, you watch an animated film and can barely concentrate on the story. I know that voice. Suddenly, one eye is on the film and the other on IMDB (in my case, identifying Brenda Blethyn and Jim Broadbent in the joyful tale of Ethel & Ernest).
Ah! Of course!
Two distinguished voices I’d recognise anywhere…
Can the same be said of your brand voice?
For it to make an impact, first, understand how you measure up against the competition.
Study competitors’ content
Let’s use an example of three companies who offer personalised books for children. There are three simple steps to order online:
1) Enter a child’s name into a text box.
2) Personalise the detail (the character is male/female, etc.).
3) Your book is printed and delivered to your door.
Little Nelly is thrilled to see her name in the pages of the storybook…
If a visitor to the site doesn’t enter a child’s name, the whole thing’s screwed. So, how do the words on each company’s home page nudge us towards the text box?
“The Wondrous World of Amy
The book with a unique story for every name
Create new book”
“Personalised Beyond Belief
Magical Stories Where Your Child is the STAR!
Choose Your Magical Story”
“Ready to create a magical personalised children’s book?
In just a few clicks you’ll have a gift they’ll treasure forever.
Create a book now”
The back story
Now, let’s consider how each company introduces itself on the About Us page:
“Using a brilliant blend of hand-drawn illustrations, print and digital technology, Wondrous Ink’s beautifully designed gifts create a magical experience that children will treasure forever.”
“The Magic Chair has been created by 3 members of Bonacia’s creative team. Bonacia Ltd is a publishing house and we have over 20 years experience in publishing children’s books.”
“Dragons, unicorns, rabbits in top hats… there used to be loads of magic in the world. Now we’re on a mission to bring it back – and to make millions of children around the world more curious, clever and kind.”
SPOT THE BRAND
Here’s a sample of another piece of content from each site, this time about delivery dates. See if you can you tell who’s who:
|“Our gifts are printed specially for every child – truly lovely things take more time.”||“Uk and ROI orders typically take 7-10 days and overseas orders 14-21 days.”||“All books are despatched within 10 working days at the latest but if we can get it to you sooner we will.”|
Magic isn’t real… or is it?
Across the board, there’s a lot of talk about enchantment, but it’s Lost My Name’s whimsical tone that whisks me away on an imaginary magic carpet. This starts with their very first leading line and carries right through to their delivery info (brand A, above).
But that’s just me.
You might get magic carpet travel sickness.
Others might find The Magic Chair safer. Plus there’s a whole host of other influencers like graphics, web usability and price, to name but a few.
Still, it’s a useful exercise to strip words of context. Use the right words and you can connect readers emotionally with your content, transporting them to your world.
“It’s about being consistent with the voice you are creating – positioning yourself as an easily identified and authoritative source for your area of expertise.” – Content Marketing Institute
Practice your brand voice
It shouldn’t matter what your competition is doing, not really. If you’re a small business, it’s your individual approach that got you where you are today. Yet being able to identify that je ne sais quoi makes it far easier to replicate it over and over for greater success.
Look at competitor copy and ask yourself:
- How does it make you feel?
- Does the writer make any assumptions about you?
- Are you left with unanswered questions?
- Do you trust the company?
- Do their words draw you in or are they kinda meh?
Now consider how you compare.
Do Re Mi Fa So La Ti
Use any notes you make in competitor research to help tune your own brand voice:
- Use every opportunity to develop a deeper bond with your reader
- Check none of your content alienates the reader by assuming you know what motivates them
- Ask an outsider to proofread your content for clarity
- Investigate new ways to build trust with your audience
- Is your content working? If you don’t get the desired response, tweak it some more
This is the start of sounding unmistakably like YOU and your business, and nobody else.
Image credit: Kai Oberhäuser