Chapter 8: How to implement a brand voice at your company

What you’ll learn: In this chapter you’ll learn ways to launch your new brand voice that will save costs and have a big impact.

Is it best to change gradually or quickly? Welp, when you’re changing your diet or exercise routine gradual is best. This keeps you from overwhelming yourself with a change that’s too big. But, does gradual work best for your brand voice?

Not really. The problem with making gradual changes to your voice is that it can come out weird. If your website is stuffy and you update your social media voice to be goofy, it’s not going to reflect well on your company.

To avoid this weirdness, you need to move quickly. A brand voice is about consistency, if you implement it slowly or inconsistently, then you’ll fail from the start. Having a launch plan will prevent this.

So, what are your launch plan options? In my opinion, there are two really good options for doing this. We’ll start with the most effective option and break it down for you step-by-step.

Total Brand Refresh

Doing a total brand refresh is about more than updating your brand voice. It’s also about updating your brand identity (visual designs). You do these two processes side-by-side in order to have the biggest impact possible.

What does a total brand refresh look like in practice? Let’s look at everything involved:

  • All of your print material must be re-written and redesigned to match your new brand voice and identity. Including, but not limited to, business cards, brochures, menus, contracts, sales letters, and invoices. Also, even though it will be painful, you’ll need to get rid of that stack of business cards on your desk and only use the new ones (otherwise, what’s the point?).
  • Next, your whole website needs to be re-written. This includes all of your site’s main pages, as well as your content offers, lead magnets, and landing pages. Fortunately, you don’t have to update every blog post. People understand that a blog post won’t be updated once it’s written, so don’t waste resources on them.
  • Prepare a series of social media posts using your new brand voice. Put these into your content calendar or Hootsuite to consistently trickle out fresh content.
  • Re-write all of your email templates according to your brand voice. During this process, you might find that some templates can be consolidated or that new ones are needed. Take advantage of this and view it as a way to further refine your company.

As you can see, a total brand refresh is a lot of work. Is it right for you?

This approach is best-suited for brands that need to do a total overhaul of their presence, including their identity and voice. So, if you’re already updating your brand identity, then use it as an opportunity to update your voice as well.

The total brand refresh is also good for brands that are taking their voice in a new direction. Maybe you’ve decided to focus on one specific consumer group, or you could be trying to launch a new product. In these cases, a total brand refresh will give you the biggest bang and ensure your company is consistent through and through.

Digital Brand Voice Refresh

Your second option is much more affordable than the first, but at the same time won’t be as effective. It involves exclusively updating your digital content and nothing else. This option is a fast, lean approach to implementing a brand voice.

What does it involve? Let me copy and paste part of my previous list and put it here:

  • First, your whole website needs to be re-written. This includes all of your site’s main pages, as well as your content offers, lead magnets, and landing pages. Fortunately, you don’t have to update every blog post. People understand that a blog post won’t be updated once it’s written, so don’t waste resources on them.
  • Prepare a series of social media posts using your new brand voice. Put these into your content calendar or Hootsuite to consistently trickle out fresh content.
  • Re-write all of your email templates according to your brand voice. During this process, you might find that some templates can be consolidated or that new ones are needed. Take advantage of this and view it as a way to further refine your company.

Is the digital brand voice refresh right for you? This is a great option for any brand at any point in their journey. But, it’s best in these three situations.

First, it’s good for brands moving from a neutral voice to a more specific one. Your print materials are probably already neutral and won’t clash with your new voice. So, it’s OK to keep them for a while before you update them with your new brand voice.

Second, it’s perfect for companies that don’t rely on printed materials. Any brand that mainly does business online will get pretty much all of the benefits from this option.

Third, it’s good for brands that can’t afford to do a total refresh right now. I understand that budget constraints make changes very difficult. So, if a total brand refresh will drain your funding, then keep it digital. This will give a nice boost to your marketing and in the future you can do the rest of the refresh.

What should your refresh roadmap look like?

Your roadmap isn’t as simple as a to-do list of content to update. It should follow a logical order that avoids content bottlenecks. This logical order is from shortest to longest. Sound counterintuitive? It’s really not.

A brand’s shortest pieces of content will be its most hotly contested. Just think of a slogan, or tagline. Generally, a slogan is only a few words long, but it has to sum up your entire company in a way that makes sense. It’s what consumers remember and therefore needs to be as perfect as possible. It takes a long time to write a good slogan.

Compare this with a lead magnet. This could be a short ebook. People won’t examine every word in a lead magnet to consider whether it’s correctly representing your brand. Sure, they’ll edit it, make suggestions, and ensure it follows the brand voice guidelines, but that’s about it. This long piece of content will actually be faster to re-write than your slogan (unless you have a strike of brilliance).

That’s why you should start with your short content and once that’s nailed down, the long content will be easy. Based on this your order of priority will look like this:

  1. Slogan/tagline
  2. Additional catch phrases or very short sales copy
  3. Social media bios
  4. Home page content
  5. Other web content
  6. Email templates
  7. Print materials
  8. Lead magnets and long-form content
  9. Supporting documentation
  10. Legal documents

Following this order will prevent bottlenecks and ensure that your really important pieces of content are ready in time.

The Dream Team

In a company, many people have their hands in content production. Especially if it’s big enough to have multiple departments. To keep everyone on track, you need a team.

The first member of your team will be your brand voice expert, whether internal or external. Either way, they’ll be the final person to vet all content that’s produced. They’ll also work with the departments to answer questions and settle disagreements.

You’ll want a project manager to handle the timelines and deliverables. In a small company, your brand voice expert may double as a project manager. In larger companies with lots of content, then get a project manager to handle things. This will ease the process significantly and keep everyone on track.

In addition to these core members, you may also include the individual responsible for marketing and a designer or two. They can provide the expertise needed to make sure your content fits with your brand’s visual identity and that you’re not exceeding the design limitations in any way.

Don’t Let Your Brand Voice Fail

Implementing a brand voice without a plan is a recipe for disaster. Brand voices are all about consistency. Using yours inconsistently means that it won’t achieve your goals. Don’t do that! Follow a launch plan and enjoy the fruits of your labor.

Rogue Enzo

Our boy is on the home stretch. His firm has everything in place to start creating new content that matches its brand voice. But, he still has a lot of old content that needs to be updated.

Enzo decides to do a digital refresh of his brand since he has very little print content besides business cards. He also just got a new logo and website, so the design is very relevant.

He creates a team that includes himself as the brand voice creator, sales and marketing, and one or two senior employees. They set aside one afternoon per week during the slow time of the year to go through the refresh process.

The whole team works together one short pieces of content like the slogan and website home page. The rest of the content is divided up among the team members and once the drafts are done they review them together. The process takes a few weeks, but the team is very confident with their creation. It’s time to launch.