Your nonprofit’s mission is to make a difference in the world. And effectively getting your message out to the masses remains critical to achieving success. The best way to do that is by sharing your goals and values throughout your website, on social media, and through other marketing initiatives. But if your content doesn’t reflect your brand, it won’t resonate with your intended audience.
The trick is to create a strong brand voice by keeping three key principles in mind:
- People contribute to causes they connect with on an emotional level, so a human voice is imperative.
- All your content — print, online and “real world” — must reflect this brand voice to build consistency.
- A solid voice should fit in easily with your organization’s culture and become almost second nature when done right.
Harder than it sounds, right? It doesn’t have to be.
How to Find Your Brand Voice With the ‘Five-Question Process’
An authentic voice is a critical part of your marketing strategy. But how do you define your voice? Try the Five-Question Process. It’s simple and effective.
How does it work? Each workday for one week, answer one key question about your brand. You can answer each question on your own if you’re a solopreneur, or get your team members involved for a wider view. Spend at least 15–20 minutes on each answer.
At the end of the week, you’ll have about 80% of the tough work done to create a workable brand voice guideline you can share with your team. You’ll be ready to define, in just a few short paragraphs, what your brand voice stands for, sounds like, and intends. And that information will transform your marketing.
The Five Questions to Ask About Your Brand Voice
Question 1. Who are you?
Describe your brand as a person. What is that person like, and what are the key elements of your brand’s personality and philosophy? Be sure to think about how your brand interacts with advertisers, clients, families of clients, vendors, and the public.
Question 2. What impact are you hoping to make?
Understanding where your brand’s product or services will have an impact is critical to developing a strong brand. What change(s) are you working for in your field, your community, your world, and how does your brand help to bring those changes about?
Question 3. Who is your brand targeting?
Your brand must speak fluently to and resonate with anyone who will be directly affected by your content. Who is your primary and secondary audience, and are there any specific challenges you face in communicating with them?
Question 4. What is your message?
If you could directly speak to each person in your target market, what message would you want to share with them, and what do you want people to do when they hear your message?
Question 5. What do you already have?
Are there any marketing materials or editorial/branding guidelines already in place for your brand, and are you using them to create your marketing copy? If so, what do you love — and not love? What’s missing?
After you answer these questions, the next step is to create your brand’s style guide, ensuring that all of the content you create is consistent, polished, and engaging.
How to Write a Brand Style Guide
Start your brand style guide with a base, such as following the “AP Style Guide.” Go through the baseline and add additional rules if you need them, like whether or not to use the Oxford comma or specific emoji guidelines. You can also add in guidelines on formatting bullets, lists, hyphens, or quotes — anything that defines your particular style.
Next, add a few more details to your brand style guide, such as a section on words to stay away from; acceptable typeface names, sizes and weights; your principal brand colors; photography requirements; and any other details that are important to your brand.
The Content Marketing Institute has prepared a list of brands with first-class style guides that you can use for reference. With a well-defined brand voice, a bit of time, and a few details, soon your brand could be one of them.
Download this sample brand style guide for some inspiration, and get started building your brand voice today.
Carol Pearson, aka “The Words Girl,” helps brands develop a strong voice and create an effective content marketing strategy. Visit www.thewordsgirl.com to learn more.