You already have your brand’s voice defined, but when it comes to writing, can you speak your customers’ language, too? Finding a way to do both isn’t always easy.
For example: When I sit down to write a blog post for my personal website, I know that it’s not going to be in the right tone for every person who might read it. Some of my clients want a funny, conversational tone, while others want a more serious and formal writing voice.
I can’t write for everyone—I just can’t.
So the question is: How do you stay true to your brand’s voice and personality while also speaking your audience’s language—without sounding phony?
Here are some specific strategies to consider.
Flip the Equation
Look to your customers for answers—which some call “review mining.” Find out what language and words they are already using to describe their problems and pain points, and then think about how you can incorporate those very words into your writing.
Joana Wiebe of Copyhackers recommends using this tactic to mirror existing ideas back to your prospects. When writing an app description, she looks to existing reviews (and sometimes even its competitors) for inspiration.
You can also find this customer language in other places:
- Participate in the spaces where your target audience is spending time and make notes on the common themes you notice there.
- Survey or interview your current customers to get feedback.
- Reach out to industry experts and get their take on your copy.
Ditch the Jargon
It can be tempting to use words that lean to the side of business-speak—especially when we’re trying to create a voice that sounds knowledgeable, experienced, and formal with a specific demographic.
But often times, this tone comes off as dry and uninteresting. That’s where we get those meaningless phrases—like “custom business solutions” –that no one really understands or cares about.
Leave the cliché, jargon-heavy terms to someone else.
Being “authentic” sometimes feels like an elusive quality for people writing in a brand voice.
But here’s the thing: Being authentic means taking steps that break down that wall between customers and your brand. You accomplish this by employing writing tactics that help you write conversationally and anecdotally—instead of like a robot.
I asked Paul Jarvis, an author, teacher, and web designer, for his insight on this predicament. He said:
“People want information presented in a way they can understand—not expert speak. It's important to use your customers’ language but in a way that's unique to your brand. That means using your unique personality, experiences, and story. Your competition may have the same skills, services, offerings, and even pricing—but where they can't compete with you is in that 1% that makes you unique.”
Use real experiences. Storytelling is rooted in, you guessed it—story. Share the journey that brought the brand to where it is today and talk about what you learned along the way.
Share your ups AND downs. Use personal stories to reflect on what you’ve learned from your unique experiences—both good and bad. Save people from making the same mistakes you did, and even talk about the times you’ve failed, as these are powerful learning moments.
The main takeaway on this topic: You can stay true to your brand voice by remembering to write like a human—for other humans.
Sure, you’re not going to be able to speak to every potential customer, but you can speak directly to the ones that matter most in a voice that resonates with them and doesn’t sound like you’re trying too hard.
Is this issue something you’re working through, too? Tell me about it! I'm (@kaleighf) on Twitter.
This article originally appeared in my newsletter, A Cup of Copy.