Marketing

5 Steps for Finding Your Brand’s Voice When Writing for the Web

By November 8, 2017 No Comments
Finding your Brand's Voice for web writing

An effective content marketing strategy requires great content specifically optimized and written for the web. The content should be short and simple, but also helpful, memorable, and written for SEO. While these technical elements will make your content easy to read, your brand’s voice is what communicates your brand’s personality, reaches your customers, and makes your content valuable. But how can you combine all these things together and write for a website with an authentic voice? Take a look at these 5 simple steps and examples to see how to showcase your brand’s voice when writing for the web.

Here Are 5 Steps for Honing Your Brand’s Voice When Writing for the Web:

Let’s compare two very different organizations; a marketing agency and a university. New York University (NYU) writes an instructional post about web writing with an appropriately academic voice. Enchanting Marketing also writes an instructional post about web writing, but with a much more casual voice. How are they able to write about the same topic, but so differently? Below we’ll use these two examples to give you a better idea about how to best hone your brand’s voice.

1. Consider Your Tone

Tone and voice are closely related. Your voice is a consistent, overarching theme which may be professional, casual, informational, whimsical, etc. Your tone describes your attitude about a subject; optimistic, cynical, respectful, irreverent. As NYU and Enchanting Marketing discuss the importance of readability when writing for the web, their tones are very different. One is direct and sincere, and the other is irreverent and a bit sarcastic.

NYU Says:

“The content of your site should be easy to read. Write in a conversational style.”

Enchanting Marketing Says:

“Write as if you’re writing for a 12-year old because that makes your copy easy-to-follow. And be careful with jokes unless you’re absolutely sure your target audience will get them.”

2. Decide If You Are Literal or Metaphorical

When you write for a website–or write anything–do you use stories, descriptive images, or situations to get a point across? Or do you state the facts and connect them? When discussing scan-ability in web copy, NYU states clear instructions, which works well with an educational voice. Enchanting Marketing takes a more creative approach with a memorable metaphor that, like their brand’s voice, is a bit off-kilter.

NYU Says:

“Keep your visitors’ interest by making headlines and navigation obvious and relevant.” and “Put the most important content on your page in the first paragraph, so that readers scanning your pages will not miss your main idea.”

Enchanting Marketing Says:

“Your website visitors behave like wild animals (source: Jakob Nielsen’s Alertbox)” and ” They’re hunting for information or a product to buy — just like a hungry panther hunts for his next meal.”

3. Choose Your Words Carefully

How you say something is just as important–sometimes more important–than what you say. Even if you are making the same point, different wording changes the way readers interpret the message and the source. Though these are almost identical bits of information, if NYU used Enchanting Marketing’s term “gobbledygook,” wouldn’t it seem a bit strange?

NYU Says:

“Search out and destroy jargon, and avoid obscure acronyms.”

Enchanting Marketing Says:

“Avoid jargon and gobbledygook”

4. Speak to Your Audience

Consider your audience carefully and personalize your strategy to suit your audience. In the two examples, NYU speaks to their students and staff about writing principles that uphold their brand, while Enchanting Marketing addresses potential customers looking for snappy tips. Though they are writing about the same thing with much the same information, their voices are so different that the university warns against writing like a marketer, and the marketer warns against writing like an academic!

NYU Says:

“New York University is a global university. Writing on the website should address to the university community while knowing that the outside is viewing. Prospective students do not want to read marketing spin…”

Enchanting Marketing Says:

“Don’t treat your web visitors like academics who love reading challenging and complicated texts. Don’t treat your web visitors like lawyers pouring over small print. don’t be wordy. And don’t show off your extensive vocabulary.”

5. Be Yourself

Ultimately, your customers and prospective customers read your content to read you. Whatever customers appreciate about your brand, attitude, or way of doing business should likewise come out in your content. This will help to establish not only your brand’s voice in your content writing, but also traits that make your brand unique and help your web content work for your business by connecting with your target audiences in a distinct way.

Neither NYU nor Enchanting Marketing are wrong in the voice that they chose; in fact, both are successful because their voices are consistent and appropriate for their organization. If you are wondering how to show your brand’s voice when you write for a website, ask yourself what you want to say and how you would say it.

How would you describe the voice of your web writing? Are you fun, casual and sarcastic, informational, professional and respectful, or something completely different? Leave a comment to show off your brand’s voice!

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