April 17, 2023 Content Chat Recap: How To Achieve Consistency In Your Content Branding

A Content Chat header image that says today’s topic is how to achieve consistency in your content branding with guest Melanie Graham, who is @MG_content on Twitter.

If you took your brand’s name and logo out of your content, would your community still recognize the content as yours? For many content marketing teams, the answer is “no”—and we want to explain why that is an issue and how to fix it.

In this #ContentChat recap, Erika joins Melanie Graham, a skilled content marketing professional, to discuss how to achieve consistency in your content branding. In this recap, you’ll learn how to define your brand voice and create a content style guide and messaging framework that empowers all creators in your company to reinforce your unique branding.

Read through a few highlights from the conversation below, and listen to the full recording here.

Q1: What is meant by consistent branding when it comes to content? What are the elements of content branding?

A consistent brand carries the same voice, tone, style, and visual identity across all content.

A1a: Consistent branding means your brand has the same voice, tone and style across all its written content and the same themes and color schemes across visual content. #ContentChat

— Melanie Graham (@mg_content) April 17, 2023

A1b: One way I like to think of consistent branding: If you removed your logo/company name from all of your content, would your audience still recongize it was your brand? #ContentChat

— Melanie Graham (@mg_content) April 17, 2023

A1. Consistent branding when it comes to content is consistency in;
👉Tone of voice
👉Brand identity
👉Customer persona
👉Customer journey#ContentChat

— Shruti Deshpande 🇮🇳🇬🇧 (@shruti12d) April 17, 2023

Erika uses Super Bowl commercials to explain the importance of consistent branding. Listen to the audio recap for more on that, and to hear Erika explain how an awful experience with Chewy customer service felt like a “gut punch” and contradicts their historically inclusive brand voice.

“I think a great example of [the importance of consistent branding] is the annual Super Bowl commercials. If you asked people who weren’t already customers of whatever brand ‘who was the company that sponsored the ad,’ frequently people don’t know. And that’s because [the commercial] wasn’t consistent with [the company’s] branding, in addition to going out to an audience that isn’t the right audience. It’s absolutely critical to focus on having that consistent content branding, and having it go beyond just the logo and brand colors being on everything.”

Q2: A brand voice is one of the most important—and potentially difficult to implement—elements of consistent branding. How can a team define its brand voice?

Melanie recommends looking at your company’s core values to find voice characteristics that align with those values.

If your brand does not have defined brand values, Erika recommends you ask “what famous book or movie character would you consider to have the same kind of brand personality as the brand we’re trying to build here?”

A2a: It’s hard to define something as abstract as a brand voice! When I’m building these from scratch I like to look at the company’s core values and find voice characteristics that align with those values. #ContentChat

— Melanie Graham (@mg_content) April 17, 2023

A2b: For example, if we look at one of @Canva’s core values, “Make complex things simple”, you could think about a brand voice characteristic of “accessible” or “approachable.” #ContentChat

— Melanie Graham (@mg_content) April 17, 2023

Choose between three and four brand voice characteristics and create a chart that explains how those characteristics should present themselves. Melanie shares a template to help you get started.

A2c: I recommend coming up wtih 3-4 brand voice characteristics. Then, create a brand voice chart with definitions, examples, do’s/don’ts. Here’s a template I’ve used in the past. https://t.co/m4fploiKdq #ContentChat

— Melanie Graham (@mg_content) April 17, 2023

A2d: So, going back to the “accessible” or “approachable” example: If this was one of my brand voice characteristics, I’d want to make sure I’m using plain language best practices and content that’s easy to understand. #ContentChat

— Melanie Graham (@mg_content) April 17, 2023

Your brand voice should resonate with your target audience.

A2. Brand voice is emotions and personality used in comms. Once you have identified your target audience, you can work out the ‘tone’ and emotions that resonate best with them – that defines your brand voice #ContentChat

— Shruti Deshpande 🇮🇳🇬🇧 (@shruti12d) April 17, 2023

A2: Brand identity and brand voice are different in that the voice is the foundation of the identity. The voice is what makes it speak to the customer. The voice must communicate with the customer. #ContentChat

— Jered B (@JeredB3) April 18, 2023

Q3: How can marketers create an effective brand voice that stands out from (and doesn’t copy) competitors?

“Your branding should not only be consistent, but it also needs to be unique. It can’t just be a copy of your competitors and what your peers are doing, because otherwise nobody’s going to notice you and you’re going to fly under the radar.” – Melanie Graham

“If you’re having trouble thinking through your differentiated brand voice, you can also start by having people share examples of something a competitor wrote or said that your brand would never do. Talk about why that [competitor content] is so off brand for you. AI is also a fantastic tool for looking at things and giving you some insight into brand voices.” – Erika Heald

While it’s helpful to analyze your competitor’s brand voice(s), your brand voice should reflect your unique values.

A3a: Aside from aligning with your company core values (which will hopefully be unique from your competitors) you can also create brand guidelines that align with your key differentiators. #ContentChat

— Melanie Graham (@mg_content) April 17, 2023

A3b: For example, let’s say one of your company’s differentiators is its customer service. How does that translate into a brand? I think characteristics like “friendly,” “approachable,” and “fun.” #ContentChat

— Melanie Graham (@mg_content) April 17, 2023

A3. An effective brand voice should be;
👉Closely aligned with your’ mission
👉Resonate with your TA
👉In line with your goals
👉Use emotions that drive action
👉Lead with empathy #ContentChat

— Shruti Deshpande 🇮🇳🇬🇧 (@shruti12d) April 17, 2023

A3: A strong brand voice is critical to survival in today’s oversaturated market. Generic communications are not the route to success. The voice must make the connection with the customer the way a friend would. #ContentChat

— Jered B (@JeredB3) April 18, 2023

Speak with stakeholders across your company to understand how they perceive the brand identity.

A3c: It’s also important to talk with key stakeholders at your company when developing your brand voice. It’s important to get a feel of how the internal team perceives the brand. #ContentChat

— Melanie Graham (@mg_content) April 17, 2023

Q4: Content style guides can be incredibly helpful for branding purposes. What are your must include (or remove) elements for an effective content style guide?

A content style guide should explain company and product naming conventions, executive titles, the general style guide you follow and exceptions, and guidelines for visuals. Check out our style guide checklist below for all the details:

A4a: I love a style guide! I think of a style guide as the guidebook for written content and a brand guide for visual content. @SFErika has a great style guide checklist: https://t.co/mwUgFOkhud #ContentChat

— Melanie Graham (@mg_content) April 17, 2023

A4b: Essential elements for my written content style guides:
-Company and product naming conventions
-General style guide to follow (such as AP or Chicago)
-Grammatical exceptions (ex: following AP but using an Oxford comma)

— Melanie Graham (@mg_content) April 17, 2023

A4c: From a visual standpoint, the brand/style guide should include:
-Logos and usage
-Brand color palette/hex codes
-Video branding guidelines (such as intro/outro slides, music, stings)

— Melanie Graham (@mg_content) April 17, 2023

A4d: Bonus style guide items:
-Links to persona/audience docs and messaging framework
-Email signature styling
-Templates (such as ppt presentations)#ContentChat

— Melanie Graham (@mg_content) April 17, 2023

“Something that I wish everybody had—and they often don’t—is every executive leadership team member’s full name, their actual job title, what you call them, and their pronouns.” – Erika Heald

Q5: What types of content can marketing teams create to reinforce their branding?

Create a rich “About Us” page that explains your company and exemplifies your brand voice.

A5a: Some organizations overlook the importance of their company “about us” pages. But the Google Analytics don’t lie: People look at these pages! Think about how you can truly reflect your brand voice with this content. #ContentChat

— Melanie Graham (@mg_content) April 17, 2023

Every piece of content or content element should reflect your brand identity. Our previous #ContentChat about why customer experience can be your best marketing provides plenty of background about how you can turn “ordinary” content experiences into something greater.

A5b: Don’t overlook this detail when it comes to company branding. Everything from the smallest CTA button to the music in your videos should reflect your brand. #ContentChat

— Melanie Graham (@mg_content) April 17, 2023

A7. Teams have to make sure they use emotions & tone that resonates with their TA each time they create;
👉Visual media i.e You tube videos, product snippets
👉Short form content i.e social posts, blogs, articles
👉Long form content i.e reports, data sheets, papers#ContentChat

— Shruti Deshpande 🇮🇳🇬🇧 (@shruti12d) April 17, 2023

Q6: What is a messaging framework, and how can it support your content branding?

A messaging framework outlines your company’s positioning, key differentiators, proof points, and more. Melanie shares her messaging framework template below for you to use.

A6a: A messaging framework outlines your company’s positioning, key differentiors, proof points, customer benefits and messaging examples for external channels. #ContentChat

— Melanie Graham (@mg_content) April 17, 2023

A6b: Your messaging framework is the guidepost for all of your content marketing. It can also help sales and customer success better position your brand/products and keep that positioning consistent w/ your external comms. #ContentChat

— Melanie Graham (@mg_content) April 17, 2023

A6c: Here’s a standard messaging framework template I’ve used in the past! https://t.co/INmk6rvqq9 #ContentChat

— Melanie Graham (@mg_content) April 17, 2023

“Most of the messaging documents I receive are 98-page PowerPoint decks or 37 pages of Microsoft Word… but you don’t have to try to cram everything into one document of doom.” – Erika Heald

Q7: How do you recommend teams keep content branding top-of-mind throughout their day-to-day content creation?

Store your brand voice doc, style guide, and messaging framework in an easily accessible location for your team. Share these documents with all new hires and content creators.

A7a: Keep your brand voice doc, style guide and messaging framework handy. Create easy-to-find shortcuts. Also, make sure you circulate these docs with the broader company and include them in company wikis. #ContentChat

— Melanie Graham (@mg_content) April 17, 2023

Create a review process where someone is responsible for reviewing all content for consistent branding.

A7b: Having a review process with a brand-focused member of your team can also help! Otherwise, I recommend repetition and consistency. If it’s a part of your process for every piece of content, it’ll stick. #ContentChat

— Melanie Graham (@mg_content) April 17, 2023

“As a consultant I’m frequently that last pair of eyes [on a piece of content], and I catch things that the folks that have been in it—people who have seen it too many times, revised it too many times—didn’t. [You need someone] keeping the brand in mind and who isn’t emotionally connected to the content.” – Erika Heald

Q8: What companies do you think exemplify a consistent brand voice?

Melanie and Sweepsify share brands that exemplify a consistent brand voice below:

A8a: Some of my favorite brand voice examples:@MeUndies @MailChimp@Duolingo@Hubspot@canva @SimplePractice
And shoutout to my last employer, @WriterGirl! #ContentChat

— Melanie Graham (@mg_content) April 17, 2023

A8: Insurance companies do this well. No matter if they use humor, the safety and security messaging is always clear.#ContentChat

— Sweepsify 🎈 (@Sweepsify_) April 17, 2023

Melanie said that Canva, Duolingo, Hubspot, MeUndies, and WriterGirl (former employer) do a great job at creating content with consistent branding.

Erika says Charles Schwab (former employer), Food52, and Martha Stewart Living. #ContentChat

— Alek Irvin (@AlekIrvin) April 17, 2023

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