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It’s a well-established fact that we are living in the era of content overproduction. Do a quick google search on any topic and you’ll find an ocean of content on the same subject matter. This goes to show just how well content marketing has caught on as a digital marketing strategy in recent years.
A SEMrush report states that the spending on content marketing is expected to increase by almost 11% in 2022. In another report by Parse.ly, it was stated that 80% of content marketers plan on creating more content this year.
With almost every brand and business investing in content marketing, the audiences have a constant stream of content they can choose from. This raises an important question for content marketers and creators –
What can you do to get the attention of the target audience? And even if you have the attention of the audience, what can be some steps you take to retain their attention?
The key lies in coming up with a distinctive tone and voice that will set your brand apart in the eyes of the audience. Your brand tone and voice should apply to every piece of content that you create to communicate with your target audience.
Businesses and brands usually put all of their resources, time, and effort into creating quality content, publishing consistently, and assessing their overall content strategy from time to time. However, most of them approach their brand voice and tone (a critical element in content marketing) as an afterthought. What many content strategists fail to realize is that a cohesive brand voice and tone are crucial for building a strong brand image.
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What is Brand Voice?
Most audiences prefer to engage with brands that have unique and strong personalities. This fact can be corroborated by a Sprout Social research which found that 33% of consumers look for distinct personality in content, while 32% look at compelling storytelling. All of this points to the most important aspect of any content – the brand voice.
To put it in simple terms, the brand voice of a business is how it chooses to express its messaging. Your brand voice is something that will touch all aspects of your digital communication, from virtual assets and blog posts to advertising. With the intense competition in the content marketing space that exists today, creating content and hoping for the best is not going to yield the results you want.
It has become important to make your content instantly recognizable by getting your brand image and brand values right in your content. However, it is not just about developing a brand voice through content. You also have to maintain consistency in your brand voice and tone across all channels.
The Importance of Consistent Brand Voice and Tone
Creating quality content that converts is not an easy task, as it requires extensive planning, ideation, and research. Content creation tools and AI writing tools like Writesonic can help in simplifying these processes by generating long-form articles and blog posts for you in a matter of seconds.
While these tools can help you write great content, you still have to decide on a consistent brand voice and tone for the content to trigger the right emotions.
Every time you communicate with your audience, you are presented with a golden opportunity to build a relationship with them. It’s important to look for ways to make the abstract identity of your brand more distinct in the eyes of the audience. Keeping your voice and tone consistent will help in increasing your brand engagement and also differentiate your brand from the competitors.
How to maintain a consistent tone of voice in content?
Once you have established a brand voice, your next job is to ensure that everyone on the marketing team is using the same voice in every form of content. To ensure consistency across channels, your content writers, email marketers, social media executives, and all the other team members would have to work together. Here are some ways to ensure that everyone is on the same page -
1. Maintain a detailed style guide
To ensure a consistent brand voice and tone, building and maintaining a detailed content style guide is the first step in the right direction. This style guide should lay out the guidelines for everything, from the brand personality and imagery design to writing principles.
The structure of every brand’s content style guide will be different, but most style guides contain the following elements –
- Brand voice: In this part of the content style guide, you can list the different aspects of your brand’s personality.
- Content goals: Define what you want to achieve with the content. You can also include the principles of writing in this section, which states whether you want your content to be inclusive, future-focused, etc.
- Tone: While brand voice and tone are often used interchangeably, the tone is more dynamic. The tone of the content should adapt to different scenarios and types of content, while delivering on the promise of your voice at the same time. You can decide to keep your tone enthusiastic, formal, informative, etc.
- Style: In this part of the content style guide, you can include guidelines for what your content should look like. You can add guidelines for grammar, formatting, punctuation, etc. You can also advise your content teams to use a grammar checker tool to enhance content quality.
- Guidelines for accessibility: You can also add guidelines for making your content more accessible.
Having a style guide repository can help streamline this process for the long haul.
Project management platforms can be of great help here. You can create and save multiple style guides for different types of content. Besides style guides, Narrato also allows you to create and save content templates for different types of content. You can easily apply these style guides and templates to content tasks when you need to, saving hours of extra work.
2. Build a framework for your content
When it comes to content creation, it’s important to build processes that drive consistency. If you want to ensure a consistent brand voice and tone with every piece of content, start by building a framework. This framework should capture all the content essentials while leaving some room for customization too. In the world of content marketing, this framework is commonly referred to as the content brief.
A content brief essentially sets forth the recommendations and requirements for every piece of content. Besides giving a rough outline of the content and basic requirements like word count and keywords, it also provides useful information about the target audience and content goals, suggestions for topics, references, keywords, and more, which is especially useful for content planning.
3. Standardize the audio and visual elements
The audio and visual elements in your content also play an important role in establishing your brand image. To ensure consistency in terms of brand imagery, it’s important to standardize both visual and audio elements. For instance, in your visuals, you might want to be consistent with the colour palettes you use or the kind of graphics you use to represent your brand. Free tools like Photosonic can help you create these images in seconds. All you need is to type in a few keywords describing what you want to see and it will turn your words into stunning digital images with AI. Similarly, your audio content should have a signature and a USP that is easily identifiable by the audience.
There are several visual content creation tools that can help you with this. A tool like PicMonkey for instance, can be used to share standardized design templates, design and co-edit a piece of visual content with team members in real-time.
For the audio elements, Podbean can be an all-in-one podcast solution to publish audio content that complements the visual and textual content.
4. Provide content samples
While content briefs and style guides will set the right course for content, samples of good and bad content will help your writers in developing a better understanding of the content goals. Consider providing your writers samples for different types of content like blogs, social media posts, website content, whitepapers, case studies.
These can be good-quality samples your content writers have worked on previously, highlighting how the content for the particular medium should be structured. You can also provide samples of content pieces with sub-par quality, which come with improvement suggestions for guiding the writers in the right direction.
These examples essentially provide the writers with some context for creating different types of content. This is especially useful if you’re hiring external writers (freelance writers) from a content marketplace. It will make it easier for you to ensure that the external writers are able to create brand-accurate content.
5. Have a comprehensive content screening process
After you’ve made sure that the content creators are well-versed with the voice, tone, and content principles of your brand, it’s good practice to have a comprehensive screening process in place. If you don’t have a review team already, get a team together for making the necessary tweaks to the content before publishing. This is an essential step for ensuring consistency in tone and voice.
6. Try the ‘No Logo’ method
You might be wondering – what is a ‘no logo’ method? This is essentially a test to determine how well the audience will recognize your content if the brand logo didn’t accompany it. While reviewing your content pieces, look at them from a third-person’s perspective and see what kind of brand voice is coming across from the content. This is a great way to ensure a consistent tone and voice across channels.
7. Craft the content around your brand promise
It is crucial to ensure that all the content you produce is grounded in your business’ brand promise. For instance, if inclusivity is something your brand believes deeply in, it should be reflected in all aspects of your business, including your content.
Let’s take an example of the famous fashion retailer, Forever 21, to understand this concept better. In its commitment to amplify the voices of underrepresented communities, the brand decided to come out with a clothing line inspired by the Black History Month. They decided to run a large-scale influencer marketing campaign by collaborating with 3 content creators belonging to the same community. The proceeds from this marketing campaign were then donated to the communities of the 3 collaborating artists. This is an excellent example of a brand delivering on its promise.
Keep your brand voice uniform across all channels.
Maintaining a consistent voice and tone is arguably one of the most important things for your brand. The voice and tone is essentially an outward projection of your business’ brand values, and it’s crucial to get it correct. The tips provided in this article will hopefully help you in defining your brand’s personality, which will eventually translate into better reach and audience engagement.