Yeah, we can / Yes we can: The importance of tone

It might seem pernickety to find fault in the small things – but as you know, the devil is in the detail. Making sure your branding is consistent from brochure to customer service is as important as the product or service itself.

You can spend so much time, effort and money into researching and delivering your product or service. But have you spent time with your teams to make sure they know just how to approach their roles?

Semantic segregation – use language to your advantage

Every team across a company will have a specific set of roles and their own specific vocabulary. For example, sales teams will tell people about what you can do for them, while customer service teams ask customers how they can help.

While these differences seem obvious, the grammatical variations - from objective sales to subjective customer service – can change how a customer feels about your offerings. The small difference in language should be noted and used where relevant – but the overall brand tone should be consistent across the board.

This includes ensuring your teams understand what level of formality they are able to use when dealing with customers or clients.

>>  Find out why people don’t trust brands <<

What does this mean?

Remember: your branding should come from the company’s core – not be an afterthought. Look at how you have pitched your brochure, advertisements, and other marketing pitches. Are they casual, or formal? Do they address the customer like a friend, or like a business partner?

A general rule is that B2C communications can have some level of informality, to find a level with the prospective customer that doesn’t patronise them. Too chatty, however, and you risk switching them off altogether. A classic example is the friendly packaging on Innocent Drinks, which uses an assumed sense of humour to find a ‘human’ connection with the customer. Their jovial tone is even reflected by the lack of capital letters at the start of a sentence. While some may see this as quirky, others may find it annoying – they have pitched every word at a very specific audience.

If your literature is chatty, so should your teams be. But if you are in a B2B industry, professionalism can still count. If your promotional material matches a professional service – then a chatty tone probably isn’t for you. The consistency needs to be applied across all departments – so anyone talking with customers or potential clients should be made aware of the language they are using.

Speech versus print

When your staff talk to prospective or current customers, are they reflecting the language you use in your branding? Do they address customers by their title (Mr, Mrs etc), or immediately switch to first names? If your customer service teams have scripts, is the language reflecting that of the brand – do they use jargon or technical language? If so, how is this explained in plain English?

The human connection that marketers strive for is best placed in exactly that scenario – with your people, not your literature. Building rapport with prospective sales leads is one thing, but ensuring the same connection reflects your business is a finer art altogether. You don’t want to get the speech police onto every team member whenever they say ‘yeah’ instead of ‘yes’, as that’s not only impossible but we’re fairly sure borders on some form of human right infringement…

But you can ensure your staff understand how to interact with your prospective and current customers, by making sure they know exactly what the product is they are selling, and to whom. This can be done with a simple staff induction for new starters, or a periodic refresher course.


Small pitch alert

Bell Branding offers branding guidelines development, script writing services, in-house training, and brand messaging strategies. Just sayin’.


 

Your people are your strongest marketing tool, so use them effectively. Allow them to have their own personality, as this is of course what customers connect to. But whenever they are discussing your product or service, make sure everyone is on the same page (literally, if using scripts), and encourage the same tone across all conversations to make sure customers have a solid sense of who you are as a business and what your product represents.

 

Get connected

We’ve had a brief look at how social media can boost your business, whether you have 1 or one thousand employees. But what about the individual staff members? A brand is only as good as its people – and making sure your messaging extends to their business profiles is a wise idea.

This isn’t Orwellian. We’re not saying that you should control their Facebook profiles or have their Twitter passwords. What we’re talking about is the key business network across the world: LinkedIn.


What is LinkedIn?

You may have been under a rock somewhere in the Amazon forest, so we’ll briefly explain. Most commonly known as ‘Facebook for business’, users have a profile, are able to connect with others and post status updates.


Invest in headshots

People are far more likely to connect and engage with people if they have a professional photo in their profile. This is not the place for that holiday shot or grainy webcam photograph. Invest in your team members and their engagement on the social network will reflect well on your company. A smart, well-lit headshot in office attire puts out a professional image and shows that your staff take your business as seriously as you do.

Standard profiles

Ensure each key member of staff has a standard summary in their profile. Allow their personality to show through later on – the summary is the first thing people see and you want it to be connected to your business. Create a standard blurb about your business, including ethos, vision and goals. This only needs to be a few lines long.

Get involved

Identify key groups across LinkedIn which are relevant to your business as a whole, or to specific teams. Encourage your staff to join these groups, and engage in them. Start discussions on forums – and answer other people’s questions, too. Remember, providing value is one of the fastest ways to build trust.

Post statuses

The relatively new function of posting a status has brought LinkedIn closer to Facebook’s social element, and is a nifty function for promoting your latest blog or news. Encourage members of your team to post links under a public setting to achieve a wide reach, and this will make a difference to your web traffic.

Have a company profile

Set up a company profile, and have all your staff connect to the page. This profile is a great tool to tell LinkedIn users more about your business, spread your latest blogs, and share industry insights.

Online and offline work in harmony

When you have established good online relationships with key industry players, move the social aspect into the real world. Talking through forum posts and email is all well and good – but nothing beats meeting someone and connecting on a real level.

This also works in the reverse: when you have met people at events, business networking meetings or at your auntie’s wedding, connect on LinkedIn. Try not to leave it too long between meeting and connecting, and keep the conversation going by sending a short message with your invitation.


If you need a hand writing a blurb for your LinkedIn profiles, or setting up a company page, we can help. Follow us on our company page, or connect with our Founder, Imogen Bell, for a solid example of what we can do to help.

People don’t trust your brand: they trust people (Plus: win free stuff!)

 

Trust No One - Artwork by Sebastien Millon

Trust No One by Sebastien Millon – follow @sebreg on Twitter

Brand trust is a strange phrase. How can you have trust in something that is inanimate, a concept with vague applications? Well, that’s the point – you can’t. You can only trust the people who tell you that a brand delivers a good service, or product.

While you might think that you’re best placed to create this trust – and tell everyone how amazing your brand is – you’d be pretty wrong. People don’t trust things, they trust people. More significantly, they trust the people they know.

Customer recommendation is probably your number one tool to build an excellent brand reputation. Word of mouth is a huge factor in creating a strong, recognisable brand, with 92% of people trusting personal recommendation over any other form of advertising. But how can this be done?

Build a community, not an audience

The role of social media is in the name – it shouldn’t be your sole marketing channel, because people don’t use it to be sold at. They use it to communicate with others – so rather than selling to potential leads, by telling them what you offer, it works far better to talk with them and ask what they want to see.

Unlike traditional marketing channels, social media is not a broadcast tool. It is an engagement tool. It gets people talking to you and, more importantly, about you. Use the metrics about online chatter to discover who your real audience are, what they are happy with – and what they would change about your service or product.

A little word about LinkedIn

If you offer B2B services and don’t have an up-to-date company profile on LinkedIn, you are missing out a massive opportunity. Just as consumers like to read reviews on Amazon before purchasing a product, potential clients will likely be looking at your company and key players to see how highly you come recommended.

Ensuring your personal profile is highly visible, with select recommendations in a prominent place, is a good place to start. Ask for recommendations from a variety of previous clients – and be sure to reciprocate. Making the link between yourself and your company page is another useful way to build traffic, both for yourself and your company.

Get out in the real world

All this online marketing is fab, it really is. But nothing beats putting a handshake to a name – so get out there and introduce yourself. People are more memorable than brands – so your people should be your brand. Get yourself and your team out to meetings, business breakfasts, events, anything that will enable them to meet people face-to-face.

There are some great networks around, depending on where you are in the country. Some are national, while others are local. If you’re a small, locally operating business, don’t be scared of the national networks, though – if your service is unique enough, people are likely to want it regardless of location. Remember: nothing comes of nothing. Take the leap and get talking to anyone and everyone!

Free stuff!

Everybody loves free stuff. We don’t just mean physical products – although if your budget allows for it, these can go a long way to building word-of-mouth recommendations.

Free stuff can also mean free content. Give away enough to demonstrate that you know what you’re on about, and people will begin to share with others. Ways to do this include blogs, whitepapers, guest articles, print articles, infographics – the list goes on. If people think they are getting something for free, and it has your branding stamped all across it (both literally and in tone, message and style), you will become memorable.

Speaking of free stuff, Bell Branding are offering a competition to provide £500 worth of free services! All you need to do is send us an email to info@bellbranding.com with the subject title “Yes please” and include your company contact details. A random draw will be made from the viable entries on 31st July 2014 – so get entering!

 

The small print: any data collected from the Bell Branding competition will not be sold or shared to any third party. By entering the competition you agree for your details to be held on file solely for Bell Branding’s use. The Company will not abuse the access to this information but may contact you at a later date with news updates. If you would prefer that your information was deleted after the competition draw, please include “Delete me” in the body of your email. A ‘viable entry’ is one which includes all company contact details from an organisation based in the U.K. The prize is worth up to £500 and must be taken in full either as a full project or discount against a larger project.