The connected brand: A framework to guide content and creative development
In part one of his multipart series on the connected marketing approach, contributor Thomas Stern dives into the elements that make for a cohesive brand experience across all channels: voice, personality and messaging.
When brands build a framework and connect all aspects of their marketing approach, they create efficiency and effectiveness. At my agency, we view it as necessary to break down the barriers of silos and strive for synchronicity — connecting the brand, audience and channels.
With a connected approach, brands are able to reshape the way they market online. The marketing tactics and messaging are consistent across all channels and audiences, creating a more effective presence at each phase of the consumer journey.
In the first installment of the connected approach series, we’ll dive into the connected brand. The connected brand is what audiences see, from the home page to interactions on social media. What makes this approach successful is that all digital content presents a distinct brand voice, personality and unique messaging. It gives customers a consistent sense of the company.
A brand’s voice defines the brand, dictating how brands present information across channels. Having a relatable voice appeals to the wants, needs and desires of a brand’s target audience.
Unfortunately, brands can sometimes run into collateral voice and tone issues without realizing it, falling into a voice that’s inconsistent across platforms and hard to understand. If the only priority is SEO or social media best practices, the audience goals may be lost in the name of arbitrary clicks. Worse, if you try and please every audience, a voice may be too corporate, robotic or inauthentic. If content speaks to everyone, it speaks to nobody.
When defining a voice, take the time to think about what your brand values and what makes it different from competitors. That can affect how your voice manifests across channels. Are you playful, cheeky and fun, like Dell? Or are you straightforward, personal and inspirational, like Microsoft?
It’s not enough to have a voice for your brand — it’s important to make it more human. It needs a personality to help it define how to act in different situations. Similar to voice, a defined personality is helpful for situational messaging that may need to cover different topics on specific channels. Brands are complex enough to have a stance on a wide variety of topics. For example, a brand’s tone may be more matter-of-fact and respectful for political topics, but it may be more light-hearted and whimsical for workplace spotlights. Your personality will level out the tone that your voice portrays in each instance.
For our purposes, a personality is the combination of characteristics that mold your brand’s distinctive character. If your brand is thoughtful and considerate right down to the core, then no matter what the situation, your messages will reflect the brand’s considerate nature. The voice will be consistent, but the tone may differ depending on the scenario.
Whether you’re confronted with a crisis or celebrating an employee’s work anniversary, the brand personality will dictate the tone of each piece of content. That real, human quality connects the brand culture to the the audience’s needs.
A brand’s message describes topics at hand through all connected channels. Whether it’s an email, social media post or website content, consistent messaging provide audiences with new ideas.
Though the underlying message may be the same, how brands speak to their consumers through a product page will vary compared to an Instagram post. For example, look at a product page for Bumble and Bumble’s new color stick and compare it to the messaging on their Instagram.
A standardized style will help keep all content and messaging consistent. With unified voice and messaging but varied tone, catering to each platform’s strengths will help brands reach consumers at different stages of the marketing funnel.
This can be challenging for brands with digital marketing teams comprised of channel specialists, rather than universal brand specialists. When brands home in on channels more than the brand, it can feel like there are too many cooks in the content kitchen — messaging can become inconsistent due to the numerous authors and writing styles. Brands tend to fall short where their messaging is inconsistent, but when it is consistent and ties back to your branded personality and voice, audience will find it more relatable.
A connected brand is the framework to guide your content and creative development. It’s built for audiences — it has the overall theme of the brand through the three aspects of voice, personality and messaging. In our next segment, we’ll dive into the next branch of a connected approach: the audience.