Is an imposter writing your content?
I’m not talking about strangers breaking into the office or evil hackers taking over your social media accounts. I’m talking about the bland corporate personas that possess the spirits of many people as soon as they hit the keyboard.
Or the funny broad who regurgitates the key messages about the “excellence” of her company’s mobile plan.
Nice guy would convince, and sell more, if he wrote in his own voice about why he loves customers. He would probably tell some enthralling stories.
Funny broad could go viral.
Relationships count in business. So business writing should be social.
I don’t mean just social media, but also email and any writing where you want a response. Even if it’s just a quick thought about how smart you or your organization are, it’s a response.
When employees write anything from routine emails to complex proposals, they represent the brand. Although many brands have so-called logo cops, who enforce the laws that govern the visual side, few have guidelines for the personality their employees should express when they communicate.
Fewer still have worked with employees to meld the enterprise personality with the individual employee’s. So nice guy writes about “dedicated customer service,” when he should be regaling prospects with stories. Funny broad rarely deploys her rare gift to create content that people want to share.
The people I coach on business writing often find this challenging. In school and in business, they learned a formal, objective tone. They understand the brand, but not how they are supposed to communicate as brand ambassadors. Worse, they are not comfortable about being themselves.
Take the example of banks, conservative cultures that sometimes try to warm up their images with comfy chairs, happy families and cute seniors or kids. They invest a lot of time and money into branding statements. But how do these images transfer to the individual writing an email, tweet or text?
Lacking direction, many people err on the side of caution, which weakens their ability to act as brand ambassadors and makes them come across as corporate clones.
So what can communication leaders do?
- Discuss with employees how they can reflect the corporate brand through personal traits, values, anecdotes and other techniques.
- Encourage employees to express their personalities, within defined limits, when they write on behalf of the company.
- Persuade executives to set outstanding examples in their written and oral communication.
- Don’t freak out when someone goes a little too far. With risk comes reward.
Everyone knows the old saying: People buy from people, not from companies.
If brand-savvy companies spent half as much time coaching their ambassadors as they do on their logos and fonts, they could take advantage of that.