It’s easy to create content. Hire a writer, give them a topic and off you go. However, creating good content takes time. Why? Because good content requires that you instill your company’s soul and brand voice into everything that you publish. Take the time to discover the soul and voice behind your brand to produce quality content that not only serves a commercial purpose, but also connects your company to your audience.
Discover Your Company’s Soul
If you want to uncover your company’s soul, you might start by picking the brains of the founders or leaders. The people who started or now lead a company put some of their soul into it, so it’s a great starting point. These discussion points will help you ferret out your company’s soul.
- What was the catalyst that launched you into creating or joining this company? Most company founders and leaders started with a passion for something. Were they passionate about helping people, introducing new technology or filling a gap in products or services that were available to address a need?
- What sparks your need to leap out of bed in the morning? Business leaders generally don’t leap out of bed every day, eager to get to work. Find out what activities, goals or challenges excite your leadership.
- What demons cause your sleepless nights? Naturally, you need to move beyond newborn children. The things that keep your leaders up at night will tell you whether they’re concerned about competitors, customers or the bottom line.
- What situation took your breath away in your leadership role? Stories like this one will tell you a lot about the soul of your leaders and your company.
There’s an old parable that does a great job of illustrating soul. No one can agree on where the parable originated, but here’s my version.
A traveler is passing by a construction site and stops to talk to a man who is unhappily wielding a large hammer in the hot sun. The traveler asks him what he’s doing. The worker replies, “I’m breaking these rocks.”
The traveler continues his journey and sees a man who isn’t as unhappy as the first man was – but he, too, is breaking rocks. The traveler asks him what he’s doing. The man replies, “I’m breaking these rocks to be used in construction.”
The traveler continues his journey and comes across a man who is breaking rocks, but he’s smiling and whistling a spirited tune. The traveler asks him what he’s doing. The man smiles broadly and says, “Can’t you tell? I’m building a Cathedral.”
Soul isn’t something that is always immediately obvious. Discovering your company’s soul requires that you ask the questions above not only to your leaders, but to your peers and colleagues – they also construct the Cathedral. It takes time to identify, but the result is that you’ll be able to develop a “connected brand,” and your content will connect to your audience in a way that isn’t possible otherwise.
Discover Your Company’s Brand Voice
Before you start creating content, you need to develop a brand voice that reflects the soul of your company. A brand voice is important because it makes your company easily identifiable and establishes your authority in your area of expertise. Using a consistent brand voice also lets you establish intelligent content strategies.
Start by describing your brand voice in just a few words. Here’s an example to illustrate this point. Consider Fandango. It’s a company you may be familiar with – they sell movie tickets via telephone and on the Internet.
Fandango describes their brand voice in four words: simple, magnetic, definitive and playful. Using those four words, you could create a chart that describes how those words dictate the approach you should and shouldn’t use in your communications.
Take definitive, for example. Fandango wants to be known as the definitive resource for moviegoers. To communicate that characteristic, they’d want to use action verbs and avoid passive voice. Here are some other issues to consider, written for the “definitive” identifier.
- Word length. Definitive writing comes across best in short words. Longer words will make your writing softer and more subtle.
- Sentence length. Definitive statements are short.
- Use of clichés. Clichés can be familiar to your audience, but they are usually too delicate for a definitive brand.
- Use of obscure words. Make definitive statements easily understood. Rather than calling a movie abstruse, just call it complicated.
Creating good content strategies
There’s often a rush to get content published, and that typically results in poorly designed strategies and even worse content. Let’s be honest – developing content strategy and its implementation is a specialty, a connected mix of brand journalism, brand voice, topic and trend awareness, and market and client insight.
Good strategies connect to people’s interest and perception of their environment. Good strategies establish the relationships that will sustain your business over time. In other words, a company is an organism with a soul that needs to connect with people by offering information that clearly shows the nature of the company. When content works, it’s because it is connected to a representative sentiment.
When your content tells a story that inspires and creates traction, you’ll attract the right kind of attention rather than the most amount of attention. Further, you’ll create interaction that will bind your audience to your company’s soul.
Start building your own cathedral, start with good content
The content you publish will be a success when you combine soul, an effective brand voice, great content strategies, carefully selected channels, brand ambassadors, influencers and a brilliant staff.
You don’t need to be religious to appreciate the lessons of building a Cathedral. It takes generations, and some Cathedrals, like Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, have been under construction for over 100 years.
As long as positive energy flows, so does good writing. It all takes time, but the return on that investment will be well worth it.