Micro Guide: Reverse Engineering Your Brand Voice

If you're a fan of the 2003 techno thriller Paycheck, then you know a thing or two about reverse engineering. You know that pre-Batman Ben Affleck was the very best at it. Companies paid him big money to take apart a competitor's product, figure out how it worked, and make something even better. Then he would get his brain wiped and he would get, you guessed it, his paycheck.

This process sounds a lot like stealing, because it is. But, what if I told you that you could use a very similar process to steal valuable marketing knowledge from your future self? Now that would be well worth the trouble.

What's a Brand Voice?

Put simply, a brand voice is the way that your business communicates through written and spoken word. It’s what your clients read and hear, whereas a brand identity is what they see.

Companies with a solid brand voice aren't just entertaining, they're also engaging. Their consistent communication can have a serious influence on all those who listen. Making for more engaged, entertained clients who are brand loyal. That's the paycheck that every company should be working for.

Reverse Engineering

Now it's time to steal from your future self. Most companies go through a long process of trial and error to develop a brand voice, which with time, might bear some semblance to a person. Why don't we skip all that? In fact, let’s create your brand voice right now in three steps.

Who does your target market look up to?

Say for example that you own a small manufacturing company. Your clients use the parts you manufacture to create machinery that they then sell and subsequently service. These are people who understand machinery well and appreciate a well-crafted part. They look up to those with the knowledge and skills to produce quality work.

Choose an avatar.

Basically, you need to choose an archetype that matches the person your target market looks up to. In the case of manufacturing, they're likely to look up to an archetype that we'll call the craftsman. From now on, your business will communicate in the way that a skilled craftsman would.

Set guidelines.

Think for a second about how your avatar would communicate. Would a craftsman rattle off specifications and nothing else? Would he focus solely on how the parts are made more affordably? No. A craftsman would focus on the effort he puts into each step of the process and the quality of the materials used. He'll explain exactly why this part is right for you based on his vast knowledge of the industry.

With this understanding, think of what specific guidelines you can create for your brand voice. Here are some examples for our craftsman:

  • Focus on why your process and materials are better.

  • Communicate simply and clearly, but don't be afraid to use industry appropriate terminology.

  • Use examples to help readers visualize practical applications for your products.

  • Don’t be “salesy.” You don’t have to be because your work speaks for itself.

These are just a few general guidelines. Feel free to get as in-depth as you like when creating yours. Just remember, they need to gel with your brand avatar.

Ready for your paycheck?

Ben Affleck made very good money with reverse engineering. You, the lowly business owner, marketer, etc., can do just as well for yourself...even better. Start reverse engineering your brand voice today and start creating moving content.

If you’re feeling a little overwhelmed by this process please drop me a line. I’m always happy to help :)

Pair Writing: Fix First Draft Syndrome for Good

Everyone wants content creation to be free of surprises. But, think of the normal writing process. You and the writer talk a few times, the writer gathers notes, and heads back to their office to scrawl out the first draft.

So…what’s the problem with that?

The journey from first conversation to first draft can be rocky. Writers can get the wrong idea, or pick up incorrect details. They might get you onboard with a writing style that you don’t fully understand and can’t visualize. I’m not saying that the writer’s the problem here, I’m just saying that the process has a lot of wiggle room.

Fixing first draft syndrome

Plugging up these knowledge gaps is easier than you think. The answer lies in a process that programmers, developers, and maybe even hackers have used for years. It’s called pair coding.

Pair coding is based on the well-known fact that it’s more productive to have two people do the same job, than having those two people work on separate jobs. Make sense?  I know it really doesn’t, but the proof is in the pair coding. They’ve found that when programmers work in tandem and switch places frequently, with one coding while the other checks, suggests, and troubleshoots, they get code that’s higher quality, more creative, and more quickly produced.

Fortunately, programmers have blessed us writers with their ancient knowledge, allowing us to create pair writing. So, what does this process look like? Here’s a nice snapshot of it:

1.       You (or a trusted staff member) and your writer sit down in front of a computer tuned to your favorite word processor (you can also do this remotely through a video call and a Google doc).

2.       The writer asks you questions and starts writing based on your answers.

3.       You watch them write and say things like, “hey that’s good,” “not like that,” or “can we also mention…”

4.       Your writer will add the feedback and then it’s your turn to write and edit, while they think of more ideas and questions.

5.       Repeat the process until you have a solid first draft.

Why would I want to do my own writing?

This is a fair question; after all you are paying the writer so that you don’t have to write. Given this, why would you want to use pair writing? Consider some of these advantages:

·         Your writer will be able to figure exactly what you want by asking questions and seeing how you respond to the content.

·         You can immediately validate the content and let the writer know whether or not they’re understanding you correctly.

·         First drafts happen as quickly as you can schedule a pair writing session.

·         Your writer will have solid, accurate content on which to flex their creative muscles.

·         Like pair coding, pair writing creates content that’s more creative, higher quality, and more quickly produced.

Would you like to try this process for yourself?

Pair writing is one of my favorite tools to use with clients. Why not try it for yourself?

If you’re interested in pair writing, just contact me to schedule a consultation. If you’re a writer and you’re still not sure how it works, then send me an email. I’d be happy to help.