5-minute branding

5-minute branding

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

Do this:

  1. 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.
  2. When the time’s up, cross out anything boring or unoriginal (hint: every business should be ‘professional’).
  3. Leave yourself with 3–4 of the strongest items.
  4. Review what you’ve got. Tweak a little if needs be.

The exercise reveals the values and behaviours that sum up you and your business. These are the elements that need to form part of your writing voice whenever you create content.

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My results

I’ve done the branding exercise myself and this is what I got. Admittedly, the explanations of each point took more than 5 minutes. But not a lot more. It’s worth the effort, trust me.

💙 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.

💙 Cheeky geek

I like to have fun with my content. I don’t want my gravestone to read ‘boring sad-sack’ (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.

💙 Relentlessly helpful

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.

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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.

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!

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Using your brand values in your writing

Once you have your list of 3–4 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.

Put your brand values on a post-it and use it as a checklist

Here’s an example from an editorial colleague, Hazel Bird:


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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:

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.

Also, think about micro copy, the little snippets of text on your buttons and in status messages. Use every opportunity to stand out.

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Bonus tips on finding your voice

If you’re struggling for inspiration, here are a couple of methods to help you understand your values and the voice you want to bring out in your writing:

  • 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?
  • ask colleagues: pay attention to what others say about you and your business, and ask them for their opinions. Perhaps they can give you clues that help to reveal your true values.

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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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Who wrote this?

John Espirian freelance technical copywriter

I'm John Espirian, the relentlessly helpful technical copywriter. I've written about IT and the web since 1998, and I'm a former Microsoft MVP. If you need B2B web content that explains how your products, services and processes work, I'm your guy.

The Espirian blog provides writing tips and how-to guides on improving your online presence and marketing your business.

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