The words, phrases, and more importantly, your tone of voice have a lot to do with the brand impression you create.
> The Symptom:
Every time something needs to be written it is like starting from scratch. Or you cannot recognize your tone of voice – and it is not defined. It seems like every time content is created, it takes a long time to get alignment, and it turns into a group editing process where everyone has suggestions and changes. In the end, there is not consistency in your message. And that is because there are no rules.
> The Cure:
We have a branding mantra we tell often, “you can be 85% right, but you need to be 100% consistent.” Too many times we see the inconsistent use of language in company communications – using different nomenclature for the same features or changing the order of descriptions or benefits. It almost seems that the marketing team has gotten bored with using the same words or descriptions. The things is, every time you change a description, your audience has to re-learn what you are doing. Or if you change nomenclature, it doubles the complexity of your message.
We have found that many companies have not taken the time to create detailed language toolboxes that capture key language components (e.g., short descriptors, key phrases, “about us” statements, nomenclature, etc.). As you can imagine, these can become long documents (some over 100 pages), but these are reference documents – no one reads them cover to cover.
Documenting the core language components may seem like a straightforward exercise, but we have found that it takes an outside perspective to accomplish these initiatives. The reality is that it takes some time, focus, and experience as well as an external perspective to audit the communications and identify inconsistent and confusing language that is getting in the way of clear messaging.
What we have done:
We jump into the documentation process immediately, using an existing template for language toolboxes to document current content (website, PR statements, PPTs, brochures, etc.). This gets us started and to an initial version usually in a week. Once we learn the gaps and issues – we can begin to modify and extend the toolbox. We like to put it into use as soon as possible to pressure test the content and begin to update the toolbox – it should be a living document.
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