You want a loyal customer base, a dedicated following, people hungry to work with you and ready to sing your praises to all who will listen.
You want your target customers to know, like and trust you.
But despite your marketing efforts, this simple, common branding mistake could be damaging your customer relationships.
Does your brand always speak consistently and clearly, with the same voice at every opportunity?
Im guessing, no. Have you mapped out every potential customer touch-point and created brand voice guidelines? No? Then the voice your brand speaks with may not always be what you want your customers to hear.
Is Your Brand Like A Two-Faced Friend?
We’ve all had that one friend with more faces than a dodecahedron. One minute she’s all sunshine and happy thoughts, the next she’s ripping into a mutual friend, or being rude to the waiter.
How much do you know, like and trust her when you accidentally stumble upon this alternate version of the same person? Not so much, right?
That’s how it works with your brand. If your tone is relaxed and chatty on your website, but your post-purchase email is stuffy and corporate, you’re putting a nasty dent in what could have been a wonderful user experience.
Your brand needs to speak with one voice, one style, with consistent messaging across all platforms.
One Brand. One Voice.
STEP ONE: Capture your brand’s voice on paper
Even if you are already clear about how your brand should look, sound and feel, you still need to do this step.
Imagine you’re in art class and the assignment is to draw a picture of an apple. You’ve seen hundreds, maybe thousands, of apples before. You know how an apple looks. But you still put an apple down on the table and draw that. Why? Because it is much easier to recreate something you can see and touch, than it is to work from memory.
The same goes with your writing. If you can capture your brand’s voice on paper, you have a much better chance of recreating it every time you write.
Gather together your favourite pieces of copy. Things that you feel best represent your brand. Make sure your collection includes a mixture of blog posts, web copy, social media, emails and responses to customers.
You can create an electronic folder, or, if, like me, you like to hold things in your hands, you can create a real-life scrapbook.
Before you write, flip through your folder to tap into the brand voice you intend to communicate with.
STEP TWO: Map your customer touch-points
Warning this requires a plentiful supply of sticky notes and space.
Put yourself in your customer’s shoes, at the point they first become aware that your brand exists.
How did they hear about you? Did they see a tweet, or go to your website following a friend’s recommendation? Maybe they just saw someone in the street with your branded carrier bag? This is the first customer touch-point. Write it on a sticky note.
Now walk yourself through the whole relationship, writing down on the sticky notes each time your brand communicates with your customer.
Don’t forget to go beyond the first purchase. How do you follow-up with customers? Do you acknowledge repeat customers? Do you have any client gratitude practices? How do you deal with customer enquiries?
You don’t need to record the detail of each communication, just create a list of all the touch-points.
Remember: You cannot not communicate. Even your silence can speak volumes. No delivery slip, no post-purchase email, no follow-up with loyal customers; these can all impact on the client relationship. Whenever you notice a lost communication opportunity, add it to your lists of touch-points to tackle.
STEP THREE: What would your brand do?
Now go through your list, and for each point, refer to your brand voice folder and ask yourself ‘what would my brand write here’. If the copy on your website, emails, blog posts, or automated emails does not match your intended brand voice, its time to get writing.
MOST COMMON PITFALLS
There are three areas where a brand’s voice is most commonly lost or distorted:
1 Anything auto-generated
If you rely on any marketing, sales, or accounting systems, chances are they come loaded with helpful pre-written communications. A standard email to accompany a quote, an auto-generated subscription confirmation, a late payment reminder. These are fine when you’re jump starting your business and just want to get on with landing customers, but they aren’t great for your branding.
Each of these generic, standard, yawn-inducing communications represents an opportunity when you could be strengthening your customer relationship by communicating in your brand voice.
2 Post-Purchase Communications
The deal may be done, but that doesn’t mean you can neglect the relationship. Just like a long-term partner, your customers need some TLC to feel loved and loyal.
Make sure the brand voice your customers read after they’ve handed over money is just as friendly and attentive as the voice that wooed them beforehand.
Getting into, and staying in character when responding to customer enquiries, emails or social media contacts can be difficult. Whereas the other touch-points can be pre-written when you are in the right mood, responses are often just slotted into the rest of the day.
To keep your voice consistent, set aside some dedicated time to respond to customer contacts, consult your brand voice folder to get into character, and then write all your responses in one sitting.
You can help your customers know, like and trust your brand by keeping your voice and style consistent across all communications. Initially, this may be slow and time-consuming, but with practice, tapping into the voice of your brand, before tapping the words out on your keyboard will become second nature to you.