Sweet Tea's Branding Guide: Your Voice
When people think of branding, typically what comes to mind are symbols, logos, images, and colors. And while all of those things do contribute to creating a brand, they aren't the whole picture, especially when creating a brand for a blog.
One of the major components of a blog's branding is your voice. Whether you realize it or not, you write in a particular voice, and that writing voice should be consistent across your blog posts, your emails, and your social media platforms.
At the beginning of this branding series, we defined our brands, and I reminded you that, in the end, YOU are your brand. And what's the best way for your readers to identify you? Your words and your writing style.
In this final piece of Sweet Tea's Branding Guide, we're going to talk about your words and learn how your writing voice can impact your blog's brand.
Let's look into different components that you must take into consideration when establishing your writing voice.
Does your mood affect your writing style? Absolutely! I bet you can even find examples within your own blog posts that attest to this fact.
We all get in slumps and sometimes write a blog post out of sheer obligation. And usually, that blog post is sub-par at best, right? Why? Because we weren't in the mood to write.
There are other times in which we are so excited about the topic we are writing about and it truly shows in our finished post. Readers can feel the excitement emanating from your words and sunshine beams from their computer screen. (Ok, that might be a bit much, but you get the point.)
So how does this translate to creating a consistent writing voice? Well, that's hard, because you may only have limited time slots available for writing, and you can't guarantee you'll be in a great mood when those moments present themselves. You might have to fake it til you make it!
- Put on some upbeat music in the background.
- Drink some coffee (or in my case, sweet tea) to wake you up
- Don't just dive in and start writing. Do something offline for a few minutes, like journal, meditate, pray, yoga, etc.
- Eat. Writing on an empty stomach is enough to make even the best writers cranky.
- Laugh. Force it if you have to, but laugh. Out loud.
- Talk it out. Explain to a real life person or an imaginary person what you're going to be writing about in your blog post.
If you do have the luxury of writing when the mood strikes, that's even better. Take advantage of the times when you are in the best mood and sit down to tap out a blog post or two!
GRAMMAR & PUNCTUATION
Let's be clear: proper grammar and punctuation are very important, especially if you want to be taken seriously. However, there are times when it is acceptable to steer away from what you learned in school.
Prime example: y'all. Teachers won't teach the definition, spelling, and proper use of the word "y'all", but I use it in pretty much all of my blog posts at some point or another. It's part of my everyday vocabulary, and it has become part of my writing voice.
Maybe you have certain words or phrases that you use in your everyday conversations, and it would only make sense to incorporate those into your blog posts. Think about what you say and how you say it and see if you can make it tie into your voice.
A few things to keep in mind:
- Keep your target audience in mind. If you write a blog geared towards corporate professionals, slang terminology and colorful language is probably better left out of your blog posts. But if you have a more casual readership, like I do, you can write like you talk.
- Consider and reconsider profanity. I'm personally not a fan of the use of profanity, although from time to time I will throw in a "sh*t" or a "damn" here and there. But I've been on blogs and abruptly left those blogs because they feel the need to drop the f-bomb all over the place and that just ain't my style, y'all. (<-- see what I did there? Voice.)
- Make sure it still makes sense. If slang, random punctuation, or intentional grammar mistakes are part of your voice, be sure that your message is still being conveyed. When in doubt, have a trusted friend read your post and make suggestions. It should be easy for readers to differentiate between an intentional "mistake" and someone who has absolutely no grasp of the English language.
PASSION & INFLUENCE
I think the best way to explain how passion and influence affect your writing voice is in the context of sponsored blog posts versus non-sponsored blog posts.
Example 1: Passion
Let's say that you stumbled upon a new cleaning product while in Target, and you've been using it for a few weeks and really love the way it cleans your home. You love it so much that you have given this cleaning product to friends to try, and as part of housewarming gifts for new neighbors.
If you were to write a blog post about this amazing cleaning product, you'd be passionate about it. You'd share photos and talk about it's great cleaning power or it's non-chemical smell, or whatever other traits you find fantastic about this product. Your passion for it would be apparent in your voice.
Example 2: Influence
Now, let's say you get hired by a brand to write a blog post about toilet paper. (Please don't ever do that unless you regularly blog about toilet paper, ok?) You are now writing from a position of influence rather than passion. Your goal with this blog post is to influence readers to try this brand of toilet paper instead of the brand they normally buy.
And I don't care who you are, you are not now, nor will you ever be, passionate about toilet paper. So don't even try me.
I can almost guarantee you that the post written with passion has a more authentic writing voice than the post written from a position of influence.
Can these two ever collide? Absolutely, and it's a beautiful thing when that happens! When you are writing with passion from a position of influence, you are a magical unicorn whose words flow like Niagara Falls and you get that lovely sunshine emanating from your screen like we mentioned earlier.
KILLIN' IT ON SOCIAL
Your writing voice doesn't stop at your blog posts. Everything you write, including social media updates and emails should be written in your voice.
Consider your Facebook updates, tweets, Pinterest descriptions, Instagram captions, and anything you do live like Periscope, Snapchat, or Facebook Live, as part of your branded content that requires your voice. What I mean by that is, if you write in a laid-back style on your blog, don't try to be uber-professional on Periscope. Either your blog posts or your scopes will appear inauthentic.
The same holds true for your emails, and in my opinion, your authentic voice is even more important for your email subscribers. These are your VIPs, the people who love your content so much that they want more of it in their inbox. Emails are the perfect opportunity for you to let your personality really shine, so if you're feeling a bit hesitant to go all out on your blog, start in your emails.
Now it's time to put all the pieces together. Click on the images below to see all of the posts in this series.
Tell me: What does your writing voice say about your brand?