Off Topic But On Brand

Customers respond to the tone of your brand, which should speak in a way that mirrors their own communication style.

It’s not the words you choose, but what the tone says about your brand.

Your brand voice is how you express your values in writing. A strong brand voice can be as important to your business as any other aspect of your identity. It’s a big part of what makes you memorable to customers and clients (and also sets you apart from competitors). Your brand voice shows customers who you are, allows them to connect with you, and creates a space where they can imagine themselves being a part of something bigger than themselves—your community.

Your brand is really about delivering a consistent experience and staying true to your mission.

Your brand voice, on the other hand, is how you deliver that experience. It’s the tone you use in all conversations with your customers and employees, from your emails to your phone calls to your social media posts.

There are a few things you can do to develop a unique brand voice that stays true to who you are as an organization:

Define what makes your company unique. Why would people choose you? What sets you apart from everyone else? From there, list 2-3 adjectives that describe these qualities (e.g., friendly, professional, fun). These words will shape how you talk about yourself and how others think of you.

Your brand isn’t just a logo — it’s your entire customer experience.

It’s the way you make customers feel, the way they perceive your business, and the way they talk about your business to others. It’s also how your employees think of their company.

Branding is the cornerstone of trust and loyalty in business. Your brand will help you find and connect with the people who need what you offer most, too!

It’s not what you say but how you say it that tells people who you are and what you stand for.

Tone of voice isn’t just about the words you use, it’s how you say them. It’s about the impression that you leave on people, and the emotion behind what you say.

And it’s really important to get right. “It impacts our trust in a company and its products, it affects how we feel when we interact with its people, it shapes our experience of its service, and it influences whether or not we continue to be loyal customers,” says Clare Morgana Gillis, creative director of The Writer.

You can benefit from leveraging the right tone in all aspects of your business — including the off-topic parts.

After all, you’re not a robot. You don’t have to be “on brand” all the time. In fact, being on brand sometimes means going off topic. Outside of your product category is where you can show your humanity most effectively; readers are more sympathetic and forgiving when they perceive you as someone just like them. The more personal you get, the better!

In theory this sounds great, but it’s easy to wonder how exactly this kind of authenticity translates into sales or leads for businesses that aren’t lifestyle or entertainment brands. The answer lies in context: a good business owner knows their audience deeply enough to figure out what kinds of content will resonate with them (and what kinds won’t). If there’s an event happening in your industry that isn’t directly related to your products, but that relates very closely with something important to them (like Pride month), then it makes sense for you to bring it up regardless of whether it has anything to do with what you’re selling. On the other hand, if there’s an event happening in another industry (say… Fashion Week) that doesn’t mean anything to anyone who would buy from you, it’s probably best not even bring up something so unrelated (unless maybe if some sort of celebrity tangentially associated with that field says something offensive).

Keep your personality consistent across all messaging and communications, both on- and off-topic!

As you’re communicating with people, whether it’s your customers or your readers, they should be able to recognize who they’re talking to. Consistency is key when establishing yourself in the minds of the people you interact with. This applies equally to conversations on and off-topic. You want to make sure that you are keeping your personality consistent across all messaging and communications, both on- and off-topic!

Whether you’re sharing a social media post about new products, responding to customer emails with sales copy, or writing a blog post about something completely unrelated (like how cool having a pet dinosaur would be), as long as it’s coming from your brand, it should have the same voice. Using different voices can confuse readers!

Off topic but on brand means using the same voice in all messaging, even if the topic is different. Here’s some advice for being consistent with your brand voice:

  • Use the same tone and style. If your brand has a more formal voice for its sales copy, don’t use slang in an email response just because it suits what you want to say better in that moment! Keeping things consistent builds trust between customers and brands because they know what kind of experience they’ll have every time they interact.
  • Be natural! It’s important not to try too hard; sound like how you’d sound in real life when talking about this topic (in this case dinosaurs!). Trying too hard can make things feel forced instead of allowing them to flow naturally (and sometimes we don’t even realize we’re doing it). Weirdly enough though most people aren’t used to their own voices at first so reading aloud can help identify which words need changing or which awkward sentence structures need fixing!

Ready for more? Here is a great example of how Yalo puts brand to work. Discover what our Brand Strategy Bootcamp can do for your burgeoning brand.

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