Guidelines, processes, and intelligent planning, are three criteria instilled in our MarComms web strategy within everything we do. There are lots of little decisions that may fly below the radar, but to us they're all important parts of our brand foundations and how we choose to represent Mäd through our website.
For example, we purposely don't display authors. When you're reading Mäd content, it's directed from Mäd: The team, the brand, the collective culture. This decision to have a universal Brand Voice means our team need to be aligned in how we create content. Simply put, our challenge is that we should be able to produce content that our own CEO can't figure out the author- because the style is universally Mäd.
Picking a Brand Voice is a great exercise to complete early on, to save lots of time and energy on redrafts, unnecessary extra proofing and discussions, and extensive edits.
Voice Vs Tone.
Within a Brand Voice, we define five important factors:
Unsurprisingly, there is often clarification needed over the difference between a 'Brand Voice', and a 'Brand Tone'. The easiest way to describe it, is that the voice is consistent and unchanging, whereas the tone adjusts to particular messages dependent on the circumstances. Just as with an individual, a comedian needs to know when to be serious, and a politician needs to know when to lighten up the mood.
This idea of 'Brand Tone' often seems to conflict with defining a tone within the Brand Voice, but by considering your default tone, you'll put yourself in good stead for building any future communications. Just be sure to triple check anything particularly sensitive to ensure you don't appear tone-deaf.
For tone, we can speak/write: personally, humbly, clinically, honestly, directly, or scientifically. At Mäd, we choose a direct and honest route, showing what we do and how we do it. We've consciously chose to be transparent as we know we can help inspire success and betterment, and also business relations are built on trust, so it helps to be up-front about how we work.
The character of our writing reflects our brand pyramid exercise succinctly, and this is a particularly fun aspect of a brand to establish. First we tell clients to close their eyes and imagine their brand was to be represented by a human. Imagine they're about to walk into the room with them now - how would they look? How would they sound?
The same then translates to how they would communicate in writing too.
Key characteristic starting points to consider would be professional, friendly, energetic, playful, warm, blunt, inspirational, or authoritative. At Mäd, our focus is on business, so we adopt a formal, professional language, with a hint of warmth to reflect our team.
Appropriate language for a brand is key. For example, a brand selling boyband merchandise may define their audience as 8-18 year olds, and therefore if they used complex, heavy, and serious language, they may alienate their audience. Instead, they would most likely adopt a more simple and fun language choice.
At Mäd, we try to keep a nice balance. There are important industry jargon terms that it'd be remiss to dismiss, and we try to simplify the complex structures with a general awareness that over-simplifying is not always a good thing. We don't dumb down our writing, but we do take out whimsical language and team member personality that doesn't match the overall brand tone. With a mixed team of locals and internationals, we've got to be aware of language barriers from varied colloquialisms!
Defining your purpose should arguably be the easiest thing to define. However, it's always worth making sure everyone is aligned. Setting out your brand aims in print is a good guideline to ensure all future copy follows suit.
We try to provide insight, to inform, to educate, and ultimately our case studies and expertise is partly why we don't need a sales team. Our Brand Voice leads to sales- but our writing purpose isn't primarily focused on trying to sell, it's just an excellent byproduct.
When defining purpose, consider whether you aim to: Entertain, Engage, Amplify, Enable, Inform, Sell, Educate, or simply Delight. Find the purpose for why your brand exists, and marry it up with a suitable voice.
Finally, it's important to consider style. With the tone, character, language and purpose defined, there can still be much variance in the delivery. By style, we're talking about sentence length and paragraph composition, common grammar features or general structure.
We don't shy away from long form content, and we don't feel inclined to write in lots of tiny digestible sentences designed for a mass market. However, we do try to break up paragraphs into engaging chunks, to create a more enjoyable reading experience and also allow for supporting infographics or bookmarks. We also reflect the fact that thoughts don't come as singular blips, but instead flowing stems of information, which is why we lean on multiple commas within long sentences- this makes our information warmer and less clinical.
Fun brands may use lots of similes to paint vivid pictures, and innovative brands may use clever metaphors to let readers digest thoughts easier. Discuss the vision you have for the brand, and how you feel it can best be communicated through all that the brand does.
Consistency is key.
We're in an age of brand authenticity being absolutely core to reputation. Represent the brand with complete transparency and if everyone involved backs the brand, your mission will shine through.