Raise your hand if you’re creating #allthethings.
Blog posts? Like clockwork. Emails? Yup. Opt-ins? Indeed.
But you’re struggling with frustration and overwhelm because nothing is cohesive. You want to sound polished and consistent but you know your content is kind of…all over the place.
You need to take a step back, my friend, and work on your brand voice and tone BEFORE you write another word.
What are brand voice and tone?
There are two elements to consider when writing— voice and tone.
Voice is your brand personality.
Tone is how you convey that personality.
Your brand voice should never change—it’s who your business is. Your tone will change, depending on how you are communicating— the tone you use on your Facebook page might be different than the tone of your sales page, for example.
In case you’re still confused on the difference between tone and voice, think about it like this:
You are who you are no matter where you are or what you’re doing. But your tone is different when your at home playing with your toddler than it is when you’re grabbing a cocktail with your bestie.
But while you navigate your own personality without thinking about it, crafting your brand voice and tone is an entirely different process.
So what can you do to develop or refine the voice and tone of your business?
Stop trying to sound like someone else.
You want to sound like an expert. You want people to see that you’re talented.
So you write your emails like you think a pro would. You revise your blog posts until you’ve crafted an unassailable masterpiece. You use the formal language that would make every English teacher you’ve ever had melt with pride.
So why isn’t your copy working for you?
Because you’ve stripped out everything that makes it you.
The instinct to sound like a polished professional isn’t wrong— but don’t lose the personality with it.
How to fix it
Start by writing how you talk. How would you really communicate this information to a client, customer or friend? Write it for the real world, then polish your language.
Find the words + phrases you always use.
You’ve been developing your brand voice since you first started talking about your business. Over time, you probably started using the same words and phrases to describe what you do and the services you offer because you realized that they resonate with your clients.
Those are the gems, baby.
How to leverage it
Make a list of those words and phrases—the things that make people say, “Oh my gosh, YES! You totally get me.”
Now use those words with intention. Weave them into your website, your emails, your blog posts, your social media posts. This language then starts to become part of your brand.
Focus on your ideal client.
What does your target audience care about? What keeps them up at night? What motivates them to hire you?
All of your content needs a laser-like focus on them, their wants and their needs. At the same time as your brand voice needs to be a reflection of you, it also needs to relate to your audience.
How to make the connection
Make another list—this time of the words and phrases you hear your ideal clients use throughout the process of working with you. What are the commonalities, and how can you borrow some of their language and filter it through your unique perspective?
Think about how you want people to view your business.
Sometimes it’s the simple truths that cause the biggest light bulb moments, so I’ll just say it: when you understand the impression you want to leave on your audience, you’re more likely to create content using the voice and tone that will leave that impression.
If you know you want to convey compassion, you can review your writing for anything that sounds harsh. If you know you want to be seen as passionate, you can look for ways to fire up your writing.
Knowing your intentions before you start to write will keep you on track.
How to find your intent
In my former, marketing-agency life, we used to ask clients: If your business was a person, how would you want her to be perceived? It’s a good question because personifying your business makes the question easier to answer. The words you use to answer this question should align with your answers to the previous questions.
Consider the context.
Remember the analogy I gave about goofing around with your toddler versus grabbing a drink with your bestie—same you, different situations?
The same applies in your business. The personality of your biz doesn’t change, but how you convey information will.
If it fits with your brand voice, it’s ok to be witty as hell in your weekly emails and a little more buttoned up on your course sales page. The pendulum shouldn’t swing too widely (remember, you want consistency) but a little adjustment might be necessary—and appropriate.
How to find the right tone
What types of content do you create on a regular basis, and what is their purpose? Jot that down, then review your list. Can you define where you might feel the need to shift tone to fit either the message you’re conveying or the medium through which you’re communicating?
Say it out loud.
Your brand voice needs to be communicated through everything you do, and that extends beyond the written to the spoken word. You don’t want a potential client to read your website and think you sound amazing, but then get on the phone with you and feel like they’re talking to an entirely different person.
You have to own your voice 100% of the time.
How to make it happen
As you start pulling together the language that feels like a fit, start practicing. Use your spouse or even your kids as a stand-in for your clients. When you use the words and phrases you’ve identified, does it feel authentic?
It might take time to get used to your new language, so you’re not looking for perfection, but you should feel excited about and connected to the way you talk about your business.
Once you know your brand voice and tone is becomes so much easier to create content that is consistent, real and impactful. So it’s okay if you still want to do all the things. Just make finding your brand voice and tone the first thing.
For more content tips, inspirational biz talk and the occasional cute kid, follow me on Instagram.