Creating a company brand language and tone an approach

Monday, 26th October 2015

How to formalise a brand language approach.

Realnet has gone through the majority of its brand refinement and with the current focus on brand language it has brought up some interesting questions in how to formalise a brand language approach.

Many of you will have heard of ‘company brand guidelines’ and brand documents to help with styling, layout and rules – sometimes a large brochure or pdf document dictating rules of what you can or cannot do with a corporate brand. Content marketing is becoming an increasingly important part of the marketing mix so defining the company language style needs thinking about.

By its nature a company or corporate group has many different employees with different skills, education and experience in writing styles and communication, which is what really makes a company ‘rich’. These employees may be from different educational backgrounds, from all corners of the country and from abroad in Europe, Commonwealth, Americas and beyond. People of different ages write differently, as do men and women. There are variations in the softness, tone and directness of language. It’s therefore is a challenge to formalise a language style for a company or corporate group.

Due to Realnet’s diversity in people and skill-base this also proves challenging and to help with our language refinement I found some useful information and thought provoking questions by a freelance writer called Harriet Cummings which help focus the approach.

These are a number of the questions below which seem to help to draw out useful company information.

1) In 30 seconds or less, state why someone would invest in or purchase from your company. This will force you to identify your unique selling point, but may also help you pin down an important company value.

2) Boil down the values of your business into a few key words. These can be adjectives such as intelligent, professional, frank or witty.

Equally, they can be phrases or non-descriptive words such as love, think, best friend, push yourself.

Look for these around your office – in the emails you send, the posters on walls, notes on the fridge, etc. Asking colleagues for ideas is also likely to turn up an assortment of different types of results, from which you can identify recurring themes.

for example:

Apple –  innovate, inspire, dream.

Innocent – cheeky, fun, everyday.

Red Bull – adventure, try, adrenaline.

3) Look at your internal communications. How formal are people? Any commonly used words or phrases? When writing emails, what words do people use as greetings and sign-offs?

e.g.

Yours Sincerely,

Best Wishes,

Regards,

Take Care,

Bye for now,

See ya…

4) Consider how you might tell a client about your business over the phone or face-to-face. What kind of language would you use?

5) Try reading your copy aloud. If you feel uneasy when doing this, it might be an indication that your writing is either too stiff or too casual.

6) How would you describe your company in three different ways, using different degrees of colloquial language? If one way sticks out, try to identify what you like about it.

e.g.

An economically priced hotel located in the city centre.

Easy on the wallet, this hotel enjoys having the city on its doorstep.

This cheap as chips hotel gives you a night’s shut eye, slap bang in the city.

7) If you could have any celebrity as a spokesperson for your company, who would it be and why? This exercise helps to personify what you’re trying to achieve.

8) Form a focus group or interview customers and ask them to describe your brand using single words or short phrases. This outside perspective may return unexpected results.

8b) Another possibility is to analyse the language people use in their written communications to you. For example, collate all Twitter messages and identify any commonly used words. The level of formality and type of language will differ from platform to platform, so keep this in mind.

9) Make a list of rules that you find tricky or contentious, and decide where you stand on each. Remember, a successful tone of voice relies on consistency and grammar falls within this.

10) Find fun ways of saying boring things. Make a list of common phrases you use to describe your product or service. Then reinvent these in alternative ways.

e.g.:

We sell a range of state-of-the-art printers.

We sell printers pimped out with all sorts of gadgets and buttons.

We’ve discovered a range of printers sent from the future.

Printers so advanced, they know what to print before you even write it.

All these snippets are taken from various areas of: https://www.distilled.net/tone-of-voice/ – Harriet Cummings, Freelance Writer who has helped us focus more on how to approach this difficult brand subject.