📚 This post is part of my business blogging guide.
Putting a consistent ‘voice’ into your writing is an essential step to having a memorable online presence.
This 5-minute practical exercise will help you get there. Ready to improve your writing?
- The 5-minute branding exercise
- My results
- Why is this branding exercise important?
- Using your brand values in your writing
- Putting your brand everywhere
- Bonus tips on finding your voice
- Let’s wrap up
Here’s an audio version of this post:
The 5-minute branding exercise
Step 1: Get it all down
Spend 5 minutes writing down the values or behaviours important to you and your business.
Don’t apply any filters – write what comes to mind.
Step 2: Delete the boring bits
When the time’s up, cross out anything boring or unoriginal.
Don’t go for obvious: every business should be “professional” and “approachable”.
Step 3: Focus on the goodies
Leave yourself with 4–5 of the strongest, most vivid items.
Choose things that aren’t true for everyone.
Step 4: Polish the language
Review what you’ve got and tweak to add some style to the phrasing.
If you’re a data junkie, you might write down “pie chart prince”. Be creative!
The exercise reveals the values and behaviours that sum up you and your business. These are the elements that should form the basis of your “voice” whenever you create content.
My 5-minute branding results
I’ve done the branding exercise myself. Here’s what I came up with.
These are also the building blocks for my Content DNA.
Teacher not preacher
I write simple explanations of how stuff works.
I don’t pretend to know it all. I don’t make others feel inadequate.
I like to have fun with my content. I think it’s more engaging that way, too.
It would suck if my gravestone read “boring sad-sack”. And think of the poor SEO there – terrible.
Attitude of gratitude
I enjoy thanking and including others in my content. I look for ways to collaborate with and promote others.
I’m fortunate to know lots of talented people and want to share their value with my audience.
If I’ve got a good tip to share, I’m sharing it. I don’t hold back information. When people ask questions, I provide amazing answers.
“Relentlessly helpful” is the essential element of my whole brand. There’s more about how this came about here: Finding the brand hook that others sign back to you.
What a great exercise to start the day with!
As someone who is always writing about the business I work for, and indeed, as someone who has lived and breathed our brand, it was useful to write what came straight from my mind rather than brainstorm and ‘overthink’ its value.
John’s approach to writing is nothing short of thought provoking!
Why is this branding exercise important?
The list you make from the above exercise is your fast track to being memorable.
Use the values and behaviours whenever you write content for your website or in any other communications that real or potential customers might see.
Everything you produce has to be in service of your ideal customer. But it’s also essential that you have a consistent and recognisable ‘voice’ in what you write.
Your written voice is what makes you memorable when people find your business online. And being memorable means your clients are more likely to choose you instead of your competitors.
Don’t just take it from me. Check out what my web design buddies Martin and Lyndsay say about this on their podcast:
Using your brand values in your writing
Once you have your list of 4–5 items, write them on a post-it note.
Whenever you write an article or any other significant piece of content for your business, use the note as a checklist.
Is your writing consistent with most or all of the items on the list? If not, tweak the content until it represents the right voice.
After a while, this becomes second nature and the post-it note can hit the bin. But to start with, it’s a good way to put some discipline in your writing.
Here’s an example from an editorial colleague, Hazel Bird:
— Hazel Bird (Wordstitch) (@WordstitchEdit) March 28, 2018
Putting your brand everywhere
Think beyond the main pages of your website. Your brand values should appear everywhere. For example, add some personality and your brand voice in these places:
And it’s not just your website that could benefit from your brand voice. How about putting some love into these other areas, too?
- business cards
- email signatures & out of office messages
- invoices & compliments slips
- quotes & proposals
- voicemail greetings
If your reader expects something dull and boring but you give them content that’s tuned just right to your brand, they’ll be impressed.
One more website tip: think about micro copy, the little snippets of text on your buttons and in status messages. Use every opportunity to stand out.
Bonus tips on finding your voice
You can’t read the label of the jar you’re in, so you might need external help in understanding your true values.
Here are a few sources of inspiration:
- look at past content: are there any of your old articles that you’re happy with and that you feel represent you well? Read them again with fresh eyes. What values come out in the writing?
- review your emails: there’s gold lurking in your inbox and sent items folders.
- ask friends & colleagues: pay attention to what others say about you and your business, and ask them for their opinions.
Let’s wrap up
Branding is about more than these values and behaviours. There are logos, colours, fonts, web designs and all sorts to consider.
But while the visual part of a brand is important, there’s no substitute for having a clear and consistent voice in your written content.
Continue the business blogging guide
This post is part of my definitive business blogging guide.
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