Express yourself. Well, your brand. With words. Feeling tongue-tied? Me too. Or feeling like you have too much to say and not enough places to put it all? Join the club. Verbal expression can be boiled down to two basic elements:
- what your brand is saying
- how your brand is saying it
You can communicate information and attitude. For example, the way Harley Davidson will try to convince you to buy a motorcycle is different from the way Subaru engages with its car-purchasing customers. Different audiences. Different verbal expressions are necessary. And their branding should rarely overlap.
It’s no secret that verbal expression isn’t the easiest part of branding. In fact, it’s super easy to make mistakes left and right with verbal expression. But don’t worry. I’ll help you along, so you can wield verbal expression like the magical branding tool it is. Here are 8 death traps verbal expression mistakes to avoid:
Mistake #1: A too-long slogan.
It’s not memorable. It takes too long to get to the point. The audience has lost interest before they even get to the end. Short attention spans call for short and snappy slogans.
Find your sweet spot, and appreciate these examples:
Just do it.
Where’s the beef?
A diamond is forever.
The breakfast of champions.
Good to the last drop.
You probably know most of these. A handful of these are so-well known, they’ve become a type of cultural phrase that shows up beyond the brand’s original use. (Coffee is my very own “breakfast of champions.”) That’s the power of brevity.
Mistake #2: Not connecting.
It’s certainly easy to put a marketing piece out there and then disappear back into the bushes like Homer Simpson. This is not the time to shy away. Connect!
Talk to your audience. This means that you know who your audience is (ooh, personas!) and you know their pinch points, their concerns, their desires, their wishes. When you know all of this, you can speak to it. Like I said before: magic.
Be inclusive. Every part of your customer base (current and prospective) should feel comfortable with how you communicate. This still has a lot to do with your customer personas—but make sure you’re not leaving anyone out and that you’re taking care that everyone feels respected at the same level with the words you use.
Communicate regularly. Show your customer that they’re valued. This means you update your socials, you respond to comments, and you allow a two-sided conversation. This gives your customer all the feel-good vibes and gives them more opportunities to engage with your brand.
Mistake #3: Taking the shortcut.
Copying and pasting your few good lines of copy? It’s so tempting. It seems like it’ll save you time (and it might). But it’s not worth the lost sales when your customer sees the exact same thing across every channel: website, facebook, instagram, twitter. It will get old. Get creative and find a way to save time somewhere else. This is not the place. Instead:
Tailor your messaging to each application. Each application serves a unique purpose. Find out how your messaging can be used in that space and deploy it with confidence!
Hire a pro. We’d all love to think of ourselves as “fine at writing.” But is that going to serve your brand well? “Fine”? “Good enough”? That feels a little like settling for hand-held sparklers when you really need a barrage of Roman candles. We’re still talking about words here, but don’t underestimate what professional copywriting can do to ignite your ideas.
Mistake #4: Inconsistent voice or messaging.
Stay true. If you don’t, there can be consequences–if you post something on your socials that’s misaligned with your typical messaging, it comes as a shock and confuses your audience/customers. This can create loss of trust and ultimately a downward slope in reliability and therefore: sales. Yikes.
Follow the guidelines. Speaking of the straight and narrow, you should already have a set of rules to go by. Your brand guidelines should speak clearly to your verbal expression–your brand’s voice, tone, and messaging styles. Study it. Know it. Keep it handy. Don’t have one? Get one.
Mistake #5: Lacking clarity.
Being vague is out. Don’t be coy. Use clear language. Say what you mean. Make it easy to read. Be specific.
Check yourself. Get your stats right and your words right. Lose that special bond of trust with your customer (the one I keep hounding you about) and you might lose it for a long time. This means you need to fact-check your statements and your data, and you need to proofread every single thing. Typos are, for some, (okay, for me) one of the biggest preventable mistakes a company can make. Find your in-house grammar geek or hire out. Make sure your copy is clean and correct.
Mistake #6: Trying too hard.
Be yourself. This goes right along with staying true. If your customer base sees you trying something new, this leaves you open to overt criticism, mostly because they’ve lost faith in you. Your brand should be able to stay relevant without copying trends across the board. Find things that will help your brand and not distract from your messaging. This includes using punchy language like:
This. Is. It. (Do. Not. Do. This.)
Or using buzzwords, like “groundbreaking” “state-of-the-art” or even “sustainable.”
Just accurately describe yourself and the rest should follow.
Mistake #7: Not employing a CTA
Tell them what to do. Now that you’ve given them a heap of information, what are they supposed to do? You’ve presented the problem (if you’ve nailed your customer persona) and you’re presenting the solution. Now they get to act on it. Put the button right there so they can. This can include a subscription, an application, a newsletter sign up, a demo, or a buy now button. Or perhaps it’s just a “schedule a tour” next to a phone number on your printed collateral. You’ve been nurturing this lead. It’s time to seal the deal!
Mistake #8: Forgetting to talk about your brand proposition
Remind them. “Why should I choose you again?” If you don’t answer this, that lead is gone. Use your verbal expression to remind them at every turn why your brand is worthy of their attention (and their money).
Educate. Don’t sell to the customer. Educate them. Tell them why your brand is different. Not necessarily why you’re better, but rather: WHY you are the solution to their problems. Focus on your brand, focus on your customer, and give them all the information they need to make the best decision they can.
Now, get out there and start expressing yourself. Need some help? We got you.