Avoid brand drift and keep your brand voice personal with these 4 steps to authentic messaging
Here’s an irresistible combination – a drive-thru car wash with a burrito stand.
When I lived in Los Angeles, there was one in my neighborhood – so I routinely drove there, watched my car get vacuumed, soaped up, and rinsed off, and then celebrated my newly clean car with a machaca burrito and a Dr Pepper.
Car ownership here in Brooklyn is a bit different. My Subaru has not been caressed by a spinning car wash brush in, well, years. In addition, it has some major dents that would regarded in LA as marks of shame. I haven’t had a good burrito lately, either.
The dented brand
After launching, your brand can get dented, dinged, and scratched, much like my Subaru.
What often happens is different factions and departments in an organization interpret branding in their own way, and lose sight of the tightly woven attributes that make a strong brand. We call this brand drift.
Return of the bureaucrat
You know your brand is drifting when your messaging reverts to its bureaucratic norm.
When we do brand strategy, we ask our client’s audience to describe the organization as if it were a person. For example, a healthcare organization might have a personality that’s warm, caring, wise, and dedicated. That’s authentic messaging.
Once the brand is launched, however, there is a gravitational pull that leaches the voice out of its communications, and the organization ends up with the impersonal, bureaucratic persona it started with.
Bad voice, good voice
Here’s a writing example with a bureaucratic voice:
We offer comprehensive medical and rehabilitation services that address the many complex health care concerns of persons with chronic ailments.
Here’s similar content written with a distinct, personal voice:
What do you need? Someone to provide and coordinate multiple medical and rehabilitative programs? Emotional and medical support? Information about your options? Whatever you need, we’re there for you.
Authentic messaging, strong brand
- Periodically review your brand style guides, and internalize the organizational persona
- Create an ideal audience, and write with them in mind
- Use “you”, not “we” – talk about your reader, not yourself. Especially not in 3rd person!
- Remember, if you are bored writing it, your audience will be bored reading it!
FACT OF THE MONTH
A hummingbird weighs less than a penny.