There's one thing I do before I write anything for a client.
Ask them for their Verbal Brand guidelines or - even better - help them create some.
When I don't have clarity on the Verbal Brand, it's more likely that the words I put together will be off the mark. The approvals will be slower and any debate around the quality of the work is much more subjective. There is no baseline for the client to give their feedback, and there's nothing harder to come back from than "it just doesn't feel like us".
It's frustrating for all parties involved. Not a good thing.
And, because it's not all about me, the benefits for your brand are epic.
- More trust.
- Better recognition.
- Instant familiarity.
- A consistent, considered expression of your values.
Yes, having clearly documented, accessible, Verbal Brand might just be the single most important thing you can do for your content.
Verbal Brand isn't what you say. It's how you say it.
Think of this:
If you're a Hip Hop fan (or maybe just a fan of the musical Hamilton) you'll know that every MC has a different flow. Their style is unique to them. The way they use their voice, their rhyming structure, their rhythm and cadence - it helps us recognise them and - for their fans at least - builds a sense of familiarity and trust.
Hamilton is an interesting reference here - it's that difference in style that lets us suspend disbelief and ignore the fact that the same performer that plays the Maquis de Lafayette in Act 1 is Thomas Jefferson in Act 2. Their voice - the way they use language - literally transforms the person from one character to another.
So where do you start?
Here are some tips to start defining your Verbal Brand.
- Start with your values. Your Verbal Brand should help you immediately express who you are, and what you stand for.
- Use your values as a prompt to write down a bunch of words that describe your brand's personality. Mind map it. Go crazy.
- Set some parameters around that. So I use 'this, not that' statements to start to breathe some life into Verbal Brand. For example, you might be fun, but never flippant. Warm, but not overly familiar. Knowledgeable, but not academic.
Ok. It's your turn.
Developing a Verbal Brand and guidelines to uphold it can be hard, but you don't have to do it alone.