CHAPTER 2

DEVELOPING YOUR BRAND

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CHAPTER 2 | DEVELOPING YOUR BRAND  

In CHAPTER 1 we got you much better acquainted with your audience.

Your brand is your identity and, although any brand worth its salt will be undergoing a constant process of evolution, having a firm foundation upon which to create your content is essential. Your tone, your style, your presentation, your stance, your views – every aspect of your content marketing strategy will be informed by your brand identity.
“Your brand is
your identity”
If you skip this step and apply a more scattergun approach, you’re lining yourself up for poor brand awareness, a confused strategy, garbled messages and just plain bad marketing. So here’s how to get your branded ducks in a row before you start creating content...

To start you off, we’re going to look at three key aspects which should form the base of your brand identity:

  • YOUR UNIQUE SELLING POINTS
  • YOUR VOICE
  • YOUR STORY

USPs: What makes you so special?

What’s so good about you? If you can’t answer this question, your brand identity isn’t even half baked yet. Even worse, if you can’t explain what makes your business special, why should your market want to buy from or work with you?
Sitting down and working out what makes your business unique from your competition is a big step towards creating a unified brand identity. In an online world jam-packed with competition, you need to stand out, stand up and tell people why they should care about your business. Start by thinking about the following questions...
“you need to stand out, stand up and tell people why they should care about your business”

  • Why would a client or customer choose you over your competition?

  • Why should someone read the content you produce?

  • What is unique or different about you?

The next step is all about aligning your unique, best bits with clear needs that your target market experiences. For instance, it’s all very well claiming that you’re hyper-efficient but what does this mean for potential customers? How can you make this relevant to your audience?

Well, in this case, you’ll take them from first click to front door 3 x faster than the competition. That sounds much better than plain old “hyper-efficient”, doesn’t it? Think about the problems your demographics face, then couch your USPs in real terms which solve their conundrums.

In essence, a good USP doesn’t take the “roll up, roll up” Del Boy approach. It doesn’t tell you that it’s good quality, unbreakable or cost-effective. Instead it helps your target market solve an existing problem they face and demonstrates how.

FINDING YOUR VOICE

Now that you’ve narrowed down your USPs it’s time to inject that unique offering of yours
into how you speak to your customers. Matching your tone and style to your USP will not
only serve to strengthen your unique sales points, it will also differentiate you from your
competitors, ensure brand consistency and encourage trust. So how do you define your
voice?
Now that you’ve narrowed down your USPs it’s time to inject that unique offering of yours into how you speak to your customers. Matching your tone and style to your USP will not only serve to strengthen your unique sales points, it will also differentiate you from your competitors, ensure brand consistency and encourage trust. So how do you define your voice?

1. NAIL THOSE USPS

We’ve already run through how to do this earlier in the chapter, but the importance of this step can’t be overstated.
REMEMBER: Using your USP to inform your voice doesn’t mean that you should shoehorn it verbatim into every piece of content you create. Instead, this is about channelling the values innate in your USP into the tone of voice you use and the general feel of your content.
Considering the “big picture” values which make up your USP are a good way to start nailing it more generally in your content. If, again, your USP is hyper-efficiency (from first click to front door 3 x faster), related wider values centre around:
  • Forward thinking (a younger tone of voice)

  • Technological advancement (a contemporary feel, but not too quirky)

  • Speed – valuing customers’ time (no nonsense, cut to the chase, ultimately
    approachable & friendly – no fuss)

2. CHOOSE YOUR WORDS CAREFULLY

Now you have the adjectives to describe and define your tone of voice, it’s time to start using it in your content. The best way to assure uniformity and brand consistency across writers and marketing bods is to put together a comprehensive style guide (more on that later).

For now we need to think about what sort of language will best channel your voice.

Whether you opt for clear, easy-to-read language to convey simplicity and a no-nonsense approach, or choose quirky similes and the odd lexical peculiarity to demonstrate youthfulness and enthusiasm, just make sure it’s consistent and it fits your USPs.
To create a sense of dependability, for example, you may choose to focus on a bog-standard British lexicon, whilst maintaining a professional tone. A chattier, more colloquial take on this “bog-standard” language will make your content feel friendly and approachable.

Don’t be afraid to play around with language before you settle on strict rules for your voice – experimentation will help you hit the nail bang on the head!

3. BUILD A STYLE GUIDE

Now you’ve cooked up your final project, your mission (should you choose to accept it) is to ensure that everyone across your business uses the same voice in all content across all platforms. This is no mean feat. You are going to need to build a very thorough style guide and ensure it is rigorously applied.

Giving clear “is & isn’t” paired examples is a good way to get tone across. i.e.

IS

Friendly

IS

Knowledgable

GOOD EXAMPLE

– “Hi guys!”
– Contracted forms
(Don’t, can’t, won’t)
– Simple (“cry” rather
than “lacrimate”,
“drove” rather than
“transported”)

GOOD EXAMPLE

– Clear, simple
vocabulary – “We
know how to make
your life easier”
– Everyday similes
to explain harder
concepts

ISN’T

Unprofessional

ISN’T

Complex

BAD EXAMPLE

– “Yo dudes”
– Slang terms “Bare
good”
– Elided words
(“nuthin’”, “kickin’”)
– Profanity

BAD EXAMPLE

Complex, latinate
words (exfiltration,
ramification, metabolic)
– Unapproachable (long
complex sentences,
polysyllabic words

This little table is just for starters. You’ll find a full, very handy guide and template for setting your tone in stone (company-wide) over at Hubspot.

WHAT’S YOUR STORY?

You’d be surprised by just how many of your audience actually care about who you are and where you’ve come from as a company. They even like the quirky little details about how you got here. Giving your audience the story of your business is a great way for them to feel connected and loyal to your business.

The first time you put pen to paper (or finger to key) you might find that your company story makes pretty boring reading. But go through it a second time, this time implementing your shiny new, consistent tone of voice, and you’ll find that the result is much more engaging and interesting. And don’t stop there! Here are a few more ways to get your audience involved in your company journey:
“Giving your audience the story of your business is a great way for them to feel connected and loyal to your business.”
  1. Immerse your reader in a story which includes multimedia aspects and inclusive
    language “let’s go!” “we”, “you” etc
  2.  Interact with readers by including them in the story. Think clickable UX features,
    competitions and, again, inclusive language.
  3. Integrate your story with your whole brand experience across all of your platforms.
  4.  Make your story important. This isn’t just a flash in the pan, this is the chronicle of
    your company. Use it over the long-term and use it to inform marketing materials
    across the board. That means you also need to have an eye on the future when you
    write your brand story, where are you going next? What’s your ultimate goal?

BONUS INDUSTRY TIPS!

1. STORIES MATTER

It’s all very well telling your audience that you are X and Y, but people don’t often care to take your word for it. Telling a story which demonstrates a concrete example of a time your brand evoked X or Y will be much more convincing and help your audience feel more engaged in your brand.

2. BE SPECIFIC AND EMBRACE DETAIL

It’s not easy to evoke personality as a brand, particularly in constrained B2B service niches. One good way to bring out the personality in any brand story is to be as specific and detailed as possible. Here’s an example:
“Inspired by a beer he had in a pub, a shrewd businessman created a new breed of ale.”

VS

“Inspired by a pint of the inimitable Brains Black savoured in a Pontcanna pub, Christopher Putney threw in his corporate day job and began an epic journey to create a rich, full-bodied classic ale with a uniquely chocolatey twist.”
Which version feels more engaging and personal to you? We thought so!
Which version feels more engaging and personal to you? We thought so!

3. TELL A CLASSIC TALE

You’ll often find that the old stories are the best. For example, the clichés are true: everyone loves an underdog. We all love a story of success against the odds. People also love classic tales with a twist, mysteries, romances, you get the picture. These old-fashioned structures won’t fit every tale your business has to tell, but they can certainly work wonders if you can squeeze them in.

4. TAKE INSPIRATION

Finally, do your research and take a closer look at brands who already tell very good stories . Here are two good examples to get you started:

  • JOHN LEWIS' CHRISTMAS ADS

  • BT’s OLD “FAMILY STORY ADS

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