Has Your Business Established its Voice?

Jun 25, 2014 | Brand


When I was in college, I was hired as a teacher’s assistant for a freshman course. One of my duties was to grade papers—fun, right? It was…for a while. But by the 28th paper, my eyes would begin to blur if I didn’t take a break.

But something else started to happen as I got into my editing groove. I spotted discrepancies more easily. I’m not just talking about misplaced commas and unnecessary capitalization. I mean subtle changes in voice. By the middle of the semester, I had grown familiar with the writing styles of the students. So, when the tone of their content changed drastically between paragraphs, I knew something was up. I immediately looked for quotation marks or a citation from an outside source.

If you’re not careful, your business may fall into the trap of multiple voices—also known as inconsistency. It won’t take long for your regular clients to spot these deviations and wonder what’s going on. If Jack writes your ad copy, Jill runs social media, Joseph updates the website, Joanna emails the sales reps, and 23 other employees blog on a regular basis, you’re likely to fail at maintaining a unified voice. But fear not—you can prevent this from happening by being proactive!

Create Guidelines

If you haven’t already, start by brainstorming and researching. Determine what tone to use based on your buyer persona (ideal consumers) and your company values or goals. Look for examples of other organizations that are doing it right. Gather ideas from your team and begin building a master list of guidelines. This is an integral part of your brand and marketing presence.

Communicate with Your Staff and Outsourced Help

After establishing a list of dos and don’ts, communicate it clearly with anyone involved in your business’ communication. Maybe hold a quick meeting to show examples of rights and wrongs. Consider designing and printing a “cheat sheet” to hang throughout the workplace so employees don’t have to look far to recall the objectives. Remember to also inform your outsourced help if applicable.

Designate an Editor

This may be your saving grace of creating a unified voice. Choose someone with a strong knowledge of grammar and writing. He or she must have an eye for detail within the bigger picture. Send all pieces, posts, and projects through one person if possible. If this task is daunting, enlist a second editor of equal qualifications.

Proof it Again—and Check the Facts

Secondary proofing is always a good idea. But don’t get so caught up in technical grammar and vocabulary that you overlook stats and data. As the main editor of the 212 Media Studios blog—which regularly publishes the work of 25 to 35 people—this is something I’m often reminded of. It’s wise to confirm any unfamiliar terms, company names, article titles, or employee positions. Basically, never assume.

Questions? Ideas? We’d love to hear your input on creating a consistent tone.

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