Brands. Every day is a bombardment of tag lines and slogans, whether fromTVs or radios, the internet or billboards, store shelves or magazines, brands are everywhere. And with so many vying for consumers’ attentions, it can be hard to stand out among the crowd.
Only the strongest, lasting brands make a splash among their competition and connect with buyers. The brand you establish is no different; it should be what every consumer hears whenever they come across the product or service you deliver. Your brand is your voice that carries you across the noise of everyone else. Your brand drives everything from general content to marketing collateral, social media, and even customer service.
Who are your consumers?
In order to define your brand, you must first identify your audience and its voice. Often, writers have multiple audiences, as many writers don’t restrain their products to a single genre only. If this is the case, select a representative from each of your audiences. Treat those representatives as you would characters in a story and interview them, asking questions like “Where did you grow up?” and “How do you travel to and from work? To and from social events?”
Pinpoint a common thread throughout your audience representatives. From here, you will fashion your voice around this thread to reach all of your audiences. Identally, you want to know what each audience thinks about your products/services and what they want from you as a business.
For instance, if you write nonfiction books about historical battles and fiction books about historical romance, you will want to focus your voice around history.
Keep in mind that your audience will come from many different places, and each will have a different level of familiarity with you and your business. New consumers may expect a more formal tone than a consumer that has followed you for some time. In these instances, tone of voice will need to be adjusted based on need.
Exercises to find your voice
While no single way exists to develop brand voice, there are right ways and a wrong ways. With a few easy exercises and imagination, without or without a team, you can find the right tone to win and influence new friends.
- Be a person, not a product. Social media allows businesses to speak directly to customers; this means that you should talk directly to your customers person-to-person (C2C), not business-to-consumer (B2C). How would your business talk if it were a person? Would it be serious or funny, young or old, geeky or athletic? What would it look like, and what would it wear?
- Brainstorm adjectives. Ask yourself, and team members if possible, for 3 adjectives that describes your business. For instance, my business adjectives (when put to a test audience) were: Weird (repeated 15 times), Quirky (repeated 11 times), Enthusiastic (repeated 13 times), Unforgettable (repeated 9 times), Memorable (repeated 8 times), Fun (repeated 12 times), and Individualistic/Unique (repeated 6 times). With this data, I was able to build my brand around the keywords “authentic,” “enthusiastic,” “unforgettable,” and “weird.” That is how I created my slogan, “Weird books for weird people” and my catchphrase, “Let’s get weird together.” I used the keywords “enthusiastic” and “unforgettable” to build a voice off of the keyword “weird,” keeping my brand fun, quirky, and a little off-beat.
- Find your audience. Despite the romantic notion of ‘if you build it, they will come‘ that many writers have, it isn’t enough to merely have a presence on social media platforms; you need the right platforms to be present on. Meaning, you need to make sure you do your research and find out where your audience is active. Go to Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Goodreads, Reddit…engage with the audiences and follow the threads and hashtags to find the audience that needs your products/services and reacts to your brand voice. It’s okay to find similar content to your own posted by other writers and emulate it at first, but be careful not to mimic others too much that you dull your authenticity, making you an indistinguishable voice in the crowd. For instance, my brand finds fewer customers for fantasy and urban fantasy on Facebook than on Twitter and Instagram, so I concentrate my marketing efforts on those two platforms. However, a good friend who is published finds much of her romance audience on Facebook and forums vs. on Twitter, so she focuses her efforts there.
- Read everything out loud. No matter what content you choose to post, make sure you read it out loud before posting. If any part sounds odd or feels unnatural to you, don’t use it; it isn’t the right brand voice for you. For instance, my brand uses the term “y’all” often, but would find use of the similarly associated word “ain’t” awkward. So “ain’t” is never used by my brand voice.
- Structure: Are you concise or chatty? Using shorter words makes content snappier and more direct; longer sentences can seem more eloquent and descriptive. Does your brand take fewer words or more words to describe what they do. Just keep in mind to vary your sentence structures a little to keep the reader interested and give their eyes a break from time to time.
- Vocabulary: What words you use are as important as the length of the words and the sentences themselves. Are you technical and need to use jargon to get information across, or are you more relaxed and younger using slang? Does your brand cuss? While many people shy away from curse words in their content due to its ability to offend, some embrace the concept openly, using cuss words as a means of delivering an outside-of-the-box brand voice. Jot down the different vocabulary words your brand would use as statements and reactions, Thank Yous and interactions to have a quick reference guide.
- Grammar: It is important. Period. While many people find grammar too constricting, its improper use without deliberate intention can make a business look unprofessional and lazy. Grammar’s lazy misuse can make it feel to customers that the company doesn’t care enough to engage them properly. However, deliberate misuse of certain grammar rules can provide a more colloquial dialogue online. A brand voice that strictly adheres to grammar may come off to consumers as old-fashioned or stodgy. Decide in advance what level of proper grammar vs. improper, colloquial grammar your brand voice should use.
BC Brown grew up in Vincennes, Indiana, and moved to Phoenix, Arizona, in 2013. She started blogging in 2006, approximately one year before publishing her first fantasy novel under the pen name B.B. Walter (out of print).
After committing nearly every bad deed in the proverbial book of how to be an author, BC began studying marketing and public relations. She now provides common sense marketing for authors that is simple to implement. She continues to write and publish in the urban fantasy, contemporary fiction, and transgressive fiction genres.
She set up Fantastically Weird Media in 2010 to publish her second novel when she realized she wanted to independently control her own publishing as well as offer editing and marketing services to fellow writers. You can interact with BC online, on Facebook, on Twitter and on Instagram.
In addition to her writing and marketing career, BC has been the Director of Marketing and Communications for 3 nonprofit Arizona organizations, and the Manager of Digital Marketing for the Arizona Department of Education. She is a certified in Crisis Communications as a Public Information Officer and is active in local and state political advocacy groups for human rights.
BC has more than 15 years experience in sales and marketing, including owning and running 2 businesses in Indiana and Illinois. She lives with her partner and is claimed by a German Shepherd mix and a long-haired black cat. BC loves karaoke and Star Trek and hates coffee and coconut.