Tag : effective brand voice

The hero in employee branding

Businesses tend to use the word hero in employee branding. They are keen on hiring heroes or they describe their internal extraordinary workforce as such. A hero is someone who is brave and performs astonishing deeds. Does this actually happen between the four walls of an office? Commitment differs from heroism. True heroism comes from altruism, an instinct to do what is not being asked, anticipating on a situation which is potentially dangerous, uncomfortable, unforeseen and sometimes life threating. It means sticking out your neck for others facing huge risks.

All shapes and sizes

Heroes come in all forms and shapes but being or becoming an office-hero to me is a tiny bit weird. It connotates with topping client expectations, problem shooting and operational excellence. All very knightly and admirable but is it correct to refer to it as heroism? When it comes to being a hero, the b-to-b office environment might not be the best example to use the word. And yet, maybe times have changed, and we’ve grown to a different meaning, so we actually can use it in the workplace. Was Steve Jobs a hero? Some heroes perform great acts, some are never in the spotlight and remain unsung.

Calvin Coolidge said: “Heroism is not only in the man, but in the occasion.” For now, I will stick with: “Heroism is not only in the man, but in the occasion and the context.” Maybe everyone can be a hero depending on the scale of their deeds, even in the office…

Thanks for making me wonder…about heroes

 

 

2020 every day, bite size strategies

The European Commission introduced Europe 2020 as a strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth. Back then, in 2010, we were emerging from an unprecedented crisis and needed to address impactful, long-term challenges. The strategy was designed to help Europe transform itself over a 10-year period, from 2010 to 2020.

The corporate world also considered 2010 a good year to reset their strategies over a 10-year period. Or, maybe 2020 just sounded more futuristic and forward-looking than 2014. It is the end of the second decade in this century, so if companies were going to reset their strategy, shooting for 2020 made sense.

2020 vision

The term 20/20 also refers to a person’s vision. Optometrists decided what a person should be able to see when standing 20 feet from an eye chart. If you see what a “normal” person should see, you’re said to have 20/20 vision.

We need a day-to-day eye for excellence

It causes me to wonder whether we shouldn’t all think as if it is 2020 every day. We’d sharpen our wits to see the challenges we face, and develop solutions for them, with extraordinary vision. On a daily basis we encounter products and services being brought to market with remarkable speed, and we experience disruption in many areas of our personal and professional lives. It is time we start to .

2020 Content Strategy?

I think 2020 can be used in both connotations when applied to content strategy. We need to evaluate and validate trends and develop strategies based on values connected to a fast-forward society. Let’s call it fluidity in strategy when it comes to content, context, creativity and commerce.

Coca-Cola -for instance- has a different vision for the future of their content marketing.

  • They’re committing to use their content to make a difference in the world with content that has value and significance in the lives of their customers.
  • They want to hone their storytelling ability and use stories to generate conversations that will lead to transformational actions. As a result, they’ll earn a disproportionate share of popular culture.
  • They’re moving from creative excellence to content excellence.

In Coca-Cola terminology, one needs to create ideas that are so compelling it can’t be controlled. That content must be linked to the organization’s objectives, brand and customers’ interests and values. Customers have moved into the on-demand culture. They communication on their own terms; those terms are changing as new technology provides new ways to communicate. Coca-Cola’s call for dynamic storytelling is intended to include input from customers to tell the right stories. And, they understand that the stories will be dynamic, changing as the customer conversation continues.

Do you have excellent content sight?

If you don’t see your organization being on the leading edge, maybe it’s time to bring in your extra set of spectacles to get you there. Remember, the clock is ticking!

B2B Content Strategists: Stop Writing for Businesses!

B2B content is intended to engage existing and potential customers. And, while customers do work for businesses, you can’t engage them with impersonal content directed at a mass entity. If you struggle to create appealing content, you need to stop writing for businesses and start writing for people. Just maybe we need to stop segregating the B to everything else. We still cling onto nominators too much!

Challenge Yourself to Address a Human Hive

The majority of business writing is targeted at a business network rather than a hive of human beings. You need to think about the fact that users, teams, colleagues, peers – in other words, people – make up a business.

Traditionally, we’ve always believed that B2B content needs to be formal, written with a “stiff upper lip.” However, to be engaging, content needs a personal approach.

Just because you’re writing about business topics, you don’t have to be boring. While you must convey certain crucial information to your audience you can do so with infectious energy and flair . You need to write in a way that is easy for the reader to relate to while communicating the required information.

Write with Abandon

Maya Angelou once said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” You can apply this insight to your writing to make a real impact on your audience.

Keep your writing simple, but make it sharp and clear. Remove the barriers that often stand between your audience and your message. Make your writing attractive by sharing trends and experiences, and even products and services, happily and without restraint.

Be honest. Honesty will give you credibility, and that will build trust. The more your audience trusts you, the more likely they will be to engage with you.

Work to understand your audience. Don’t just write about things you think might concern them. Stay in touch with the communities where your audience participates. Ensure that you’re writing about things that will resonate with that community.

Above all, make sure your conclusion sings. The last paragraph of your content needs to inspire and motivate your audience. Take the time to make reading your content all the way to the end worth your audience’s time, and encourage them to take some action.

So….B2B content?

People want to work with people they like. If you can’t talk to all of your prospects in person, at least make sure that you connect with them in writing. It’s the small things that can lead to big business. For your next project, write as if you were talking to a friend – the results may surprise you!

Good Content? That Takes Time!

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.