How to Infuse Your Brand Voice With Personality

How to Infuse Your Brand Voice With Personality
A special treat this week: Henneke Duistermaat is debuting on Big Brand System! Henneke runs Enchanting Marketing, a website devoted to helping you grow your online business with friendly, charming, enchanting content. Today, she’s covering how to communicate your brand personality by using a unique “voice.” Let’s make her feel welcome in the comment section. –Pamela


*sigh*

How often do you come across a large corporate website that you enjoy reading? That sounds conversational? Welcoming and human?

And how often do corporate websites sound drab? Impersonal? Boring as hell?

As a small business owner you have a great opportunity.

To be different. Human. Personal.

To create a website that leaves web visitors begging to talk to you. To work with you. Because they love your voice, and they feel attracted to your personality.

Creating a website with personality may sound difficult, but it’s surprisingly easy. You just need to understand the three steps to develop an enchanting brand voice.

Step 1: Get rid of the “corporate voice”

The content on most corporate websites is awful. Full of gobbledygook. Filler words. Without any meaning.

As a small business owner, you don’t want to sound like a corporate call center. You don’t need to have a corporate voice.

People hire you because of who you are. Because you sound like someone who cares. Someone who sounds human.

Your first step to developing an enchanting voice, is to get rid of corporate drivel:

  • Don’t use passive voice. Instead of writing A mistake has been made (passive), own up to your error by writing I made a mistake (active). Only cowardly executives use passive voice.
  • If you’re a one-person business, refer to yourself as I and me, not we and us. Your company doesn’t need to sound bigger than it is.
  • Scrap gobbledygook like cutting-edge, state-of-the-art, and innovative. Instead, use specific words that help your clients imagine what it’s like to work with you.
  • Reduce the length of your sentences, because a series of long sentences sounds formal. And undulating sentences wear your readers down.
  • Replace jargon and complicated words with simple words.

You don’t need to impress clients with your command of the English language.

Simple words and short sentences are your friends. They get your message across quickly, clearly, and concisely.

Step 2: Add personality to your voice

You got rid of that robotic voice, and you’ll sound like a human being.

But how can you sound like YOU?

To infuse your writing with your personality, define your brand voice first.

Think about meeting your favorite client. How do you communicate with her? How formal do you sound? How polite? How rebellious? How enthusiastic?

Look for other online content that you feel is close to your voice. Pay attention to the three writing elements that determine your voice:

  • your word choice
  • the number of questions you ask
  • the rhythm of your writing

Word choice

When you speak, you have many tools to engage your listeners and express emotion. You can scream. You can whisper. You can use wild hand gestures.

But when you write, you only have your words. That’s why you have to pick stronger words to avoid sounding wishy-washy. Look for sensory or emotional words to express your ideas:

  • Rather than bad, use rough, sleazy, or stinky.
  • Rather than boring, write drab, mind-numbingly dull, or boring-as-hell.

When you use sensory and emotional words, you help your readers visualize or feel your content. And that’s when they connect with you.

Questions

Do you ever feel like websites are talking down at you?

Rather than having a conversation with you?

To make your brand voice friendlier and more engaging, introduce more questions in your writing. The best questions include the word you.

Have you noticed how I used questions in this blog post?

(That’s another one.)

Questions engage your readers. They make them feel like you’re chatting together.

Rhythm

The best way to check the rhythm of your writing is to read your content aloud.

You’ll find that when you use a series of long sentences, you sound more formal. And using only long sentences makes your voice monotonous.

Ultra-short sentences, however, are dynamic. They’re abrupt. They awaken readers.

Just read this section about rhythm aloud, and pay attention to how the rhythm changes when you read the two short sentences They’re abrupt and They awaken readers. Your voice changes, doesn’t it?

To make your content more formal, stay with longer sentences. To add sizzle to your writing, add more ultra-short sentences.

Play around with word choice, sentence length, and questions. Experimentation helps you find your voice.

Step 3: Sprinkle personal stories into your content

Personality isn’t just about how you write, it’s also about what you write.

When readers feel they get to know you, they start to like and trust you. And that’s when they get interested in doing business with you.

The easiest way to inject your content with personal stories, is by using metaphors. Metaphors compare two totally unrelated ideas. I’ve compared, for instance, content marketing with tour leading, and writing with cycling.

Presenting yourself only as an authority makes you one-dimensional, and a bit boring. But when you tell itty-bitty stories about yourself, your hobbies, and your life, you become a multi-dimensional human being. You become a more fascinating person in your reader’s eyes.

The truth about your brand voice

When you think about your web design and your brand, you want to think like a BIG company. You want to look like a real brand. With a color scheme that people remember. And a logo that people will recognize.

But when you think about your writing voice, think small.

Sound like YOU. Your best YOU.

When you infuse your writing voice with YOU, readers come back to hear your voice. Contacting you becomes easier. Because potential clients feel they know you already.

And most importantly?

You’ll find the clients who love working with you. And who energize you.

Your business will prosper. And you’ll have more fun.

Be human. Be personal. Be YOU.

About the Author: Henneke Duistermaat is an irreverent copywriter and marketer. She’s on a mission to stamp out gobbledygook and add sparkle to boring business blogs. For more writing tips, join her 16-part snackable writing course for busy people (it’s free!).

Comments

  1. says

    How nice to see the enchanting tour leader cum cyclist from Manchester on your website Pamela. A real treat for sure.

    how does she manage to make the post flow with such ease??

    • Henneke says

      Hey Caroline

      Nice to see you here.

      My secret for creating flow is editing, editing, and editing.

      Thank you for your kind words! :)

  2. says

    Henneke, your post is a persuasive example of the themes it promotes. Lots of sparkle and lots of sense = good stuff. Businesses big or small could take good counsel here. Thanks!

  3. says

    Great post Henneke. Good tips in a quick usable way. I am about to write up a post for a video presentation and I will keep your tips in mind. Great timing for me!!

  4. says

    Another great post Henneke. Am a faithful follower of your blog and have been using your new book Blog to Win Business – How to Enchant Readers and Woo Customers to help me as I begin my blogging journey. Full of valuable advice! Thank you!

    • Henneke says

      Good luck with starting your blogging journey, Marie. Let me know if you have any specific questions? I’m happy to help :)

  5. says

    Henneke posting an article on Pamela’s blog?

    Wow! It’s the best of everything in one convenient location.

    Like one stop shopping.

    Or breakfast in bed.

    Seriously, though. The only two newsletters that I read every week without fail are Pamela’s and yours, Henneke. And, as usual, your article didn’t disappoint.

    Very valuable advice.

  6. says

    Thanks for this post! I’ve always loved writing in my own voice… editing for the rhythm, so that it sounds like I’m having a conversation. It’s way more fun to “put myself out there” that way. What I really appreciate about this post, though, is how relaxed and clear your message is, Henneke. Pamela, thanks for asking her!

    • Henneke says

      Yes, I agree with you. Creating content that’s conversational is also a lot more fun as it often becomes the starting point of interesting conversations :)

      Thank you for your kind words, Katherine.

  7. says

    Hi Henneke!

    Great to read you here! I’ve learned so much from both of you over the years, can’t wait to see what you might cook up together!

    Lisa

    • Henneke says

      Like you, I’ve learned so much from Pamela, too. I feel honored to be here!

      Pamela and I cooking something up together? Who knows? Why not? It seems this little experiment of a first guest post is working fine :)

  8. says

    Great post with some wonderful tips. Love what you said about not talking down to readers. I sometimes forget I’m not writing the post for me but to inspire others and should use more you and not I. :-)

    • Henneke says

      I often forget who I’m writing for when I write my first draft. But when I edit my text, I wonder what would “Sarah” (my ideal reader) think about this? That really helps me.

  9. says

    I’ve been self employed since 1980 and was a school teacher for 8 years before that. I’ve never worked in a corporation (well for 2 years in the late 80s) so I wasn’t indoctrinated to use “corporate speak”. And because in my years as a teacher I taught non-readers some of the time I learned long ago to use short sentences, no jargon and personal anecdotes in my writing – everything you say in your post Henneke. Thanks for telling readers they’re all good things :-)

  10. says

    And I was a bit apprehensive when you said you were taking a hiatus this spring, Pamela! So glad you went to the Authority Intensive. I hope to make it next year. Hope the unpacking of boxes isn’t too overwhelming. Congratulations on the big birthday. I had that very same big birthday 3 years ago. Life just keep getting better in so many ways.

    Apprehensive. Yes. I admit it. Then I saw all of my favorite people step up to the plate and fill in with guest posts.

    Henneke is no exception. Whether she’s guest blogging here or on Copyblogger or writing on her own Enchanting site or in her two books on business blogging (5 stars, I’m always delighted to see Henneke’s name in the byline.

    Thank you for keeping us so well looked after.

    • says

      You’re welcome, Lori!

      It’s nice to have friends who are excellent writers and are willing to step in. It has been a big help while I relocated, but I’ve also enjoyed interacting with each writer and seeing some different points of view here. I might need to do this more often. ;-)

  11. says

    Wow what a great post! I do use shorter sentences sometimes, but never knew the reason behind it and now it makes great sense! I love how you asked us to read it out loud, it DID make a difference!

    Great suggestions all around, I have been struggling with trying to “find my voice” and it always seems so elusive, but this is by far the best tangible suggestions I’ve read on the topic. Great job Henneke!

  12. Henneke says

    I find it always amazing how many changes I make when I’m reading my post out loud. Try it. :)

  13. says

    Ms. Henneke, You are humble and you use powerful words. I like your style.

    I’m in Jon Morrow’s class right now, and your success is encouragement material. Thank you.

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