With more than 80 per cent of consumers researching – and shopping – online (Retailing Today, 2014), thinking strategically about how your content positions and reflects your brand personality is key.
What is content?
Content is the the new advertising. In the heady days depicted on the Mad Men television series, advertising was the best way to get a message out to consumers about your business, products and/or services. Today, it’s all about content: creating, sharing and promoting information that’s consistent, relevant and of value to a defined audience.
Done well, content opens the door to a relationship with the consumer that breeds loyalty and, ultimately, profitability.
At 2GreatGuys Inc., we include in the content bucket everything you write on your website, your blog, any guest blogs or media articles you write, as well as every video, email signature, voice mail message and social post.
If your content is just like everyone else’s, you’re telling the world there’s nothing different, special or unique about you: no reason to choose you over your competitor.
That’s probably not what you want. To be sure you’re creating content that resonates with your audience, and reflects your brand values and personality, follow these steps.
Understand your audience
You already have a market identified for your business. Now it’s time to really get to know your audience. What are their interests? What do they do with their leisure time? What are their expectations, their wants and needs? How do they talk? Where are they online?
You also want to get familiar with their values – if you discover your audience’s values don’t align with your own, it may be time to go back to the drawing board.
Your audience is comprised of more than customers or potential customers, too: consider stakeholders, influencers and brand promoters.
Listen to your audience, and when you create content be sure it helps address what they want and what they need. This may or may not be directly related to what you sell.
Get clear on your brand personality
Most of the time, brand personality is an extension of the leader’s personality, unless there’s a concerted and strategic effort to purposefully create one that’s different. Is your brand casual or conservative? High-tech and edgy, or traditional? Fun or formal?
A great example of a brand that exploded onto the market and immediately made its personality part of its appeal is WestJet. Entering the challenging and competitive space of commercial airlines, WestJet infused all its brand content with vigour, humour and informal connections.
Establish your voice and tone
Connect your voice and tone to your audience and your brand personality.
Your voice includes the fun or formal elements of your brand personality, along with any specific words or phrases you use to describe your products or services.
Your voice will remain constant across all content platforms and conversations, but your tone reflects an attitude and will shift with the purpose of each message.
Roll it up into a brand guide
Your brand guide will contain all of the information above, as well as guidelines around your logo, use of trademarks and tag lines. It can even have a suggested elevator pitch.
It will guide each member of your team in speaking to and writing for your audiences, internal and external, in a way that remains consistent. And consistency is key for maintaining quality standards and protecting your brand’s identity.
As soon as you have more than one person responsible for creating your content, it becomes more difficult to ensure voice and tone are consistent. Having a detailed brand guide that you share, train on and keep updated will go a long way to helping you maintain consistency.
Be purposeful about creating content that accurately reflects your brand personality and is designed to connect emotionally with your ideal consumer.
And then sit back and watch your sales and success grow.
Between them, Boni and John Wagner-Stafford have five decades of experience as entrepreneurs and/or providing consulting services to other small businesses across Canada. Their latest book is Rock Your Business: 26 Essential Lessons to Plan, Run, and Grow Your New Business From the Ground Up.