How to Craft Your Brand Voice with Brittany McBean
Personal Branding: You hear this term over and over but let’s face it, it’s a pretty BIG term! A lot goes into a personal brand and one of those elements is “personal voice”. Is your brand voice crystal clear? Is your message standing out? Ladies, my guest, Brittany McBean has a TON of juicy tips for you! She will be teaching us how to find and craft our brand voice and how to use our personalities in our writing! Brittany is a copywriter and a marketing strategist. She’s here to help us stand out with words. Get seen by the right people so that we can make an impact and serve the people who need us the MOST! I promise you are going to love her!
I LOVE teaching on personal branding. Before we get started, Brittany, please give us an overview of your business and your mission!
I am a copywriter and online marketing strategist. I help online educators, course creators, and online coaches! I serve women who have an online business and serve as a one-to-one coach or are scaling through digital education and need to clarify their message. We focus on figuring out who they are as a person and their message, stories, and their voice. We define the exact words their ideal client needs to hear and understand so that the client can pick up what the service provider is trying to put down. We help people to connect through the message.
I love that! I know there are a lot of entrepreneurs out that that struggle with getting their message heard and they don’t know how to start! Let’s jump in with some questions!
What exactly is a brand voice?
When it comes to personal branding, it is such a broad term. Everyone from your graphic designer to your social media coach will use it! That phrase of “personal brand” might mean something different to each person. Or have different facets depending on who you’re working with.
When we use the term “branding” you might think of your brand colors, your font, your logo, or how people feel when they land on your website. All of it is super valuable, when you strip the fonts/colors/graphics away, what you’re left with is the messaging!
Your band voice, I like to say, is your business dressed as you. It’s your personality infused into your brand. I want to make a distinction for those of you who might be introverts or might be more private. I don’t think that people are brands. You have a right to be a human with private stories and a personal life that you don’t need to share online. Yet, I do believe that your business has a personality and that is your personality!
I love that you said that we need to infuse our personality into our business. That sums up what a brand voice is! When you talked about the introverted person or someone who is more reserved, some readers might feel that they are not “funny” or “sassy”. How do they get their brand voice out there?
That is such a great question! I am someone who is snarky and sarcastic. I use a lot of four-letter-words and someone who is generally making off-colored jokes… it’s who I am! I tone it down for my business to some extent, but I do get many questions from clients who feel like they don’t have the in-your-face type of personalities. This then translates into my clients feeling like they can’t do this. I wanna call BS on that! YES, there are people who are attracted to snark and sarcasm, but not everyone is! I have been told SO many times, “Hey Brittany, I’m not down with you because you drop the f-bomb too many times.” And that OK because there will be someone out there for you. You’re not me, you’re you!
No one else can be you, so you’ve got a monopoly on that market! There are people who are going to like you and be attracted to you and want what you have because they connect with you. Maybe you’re the refreshing opposite of them or you’re like them. Maybe the other introverts out there are saying, “Hey, I’m so tired of all this #blessed positive life crap!” They are wondering where all the other grumpy, driven entrepreneurs are! They feel like everyone out there with an online presence is so negative and they want kindness and warmth. Whatever it is, the unique, complex traits that make up you, someone else is going to connect with you. It doesn’t have to be funny, snarky or sassy!
Is it important for entrepreneurs to come up with “keywords” to describe their personality?
The thing with brand voice and brand personality is that it can be a simple and quick process. Sitting down for the first time and being intentional about it is key. It’s also a lifelong process of figuring out what you stand for, what your values are, what makes you you, and understanding how others perceive you. There’s a lot of different ways to do this!
Taking time to sit down and write a few adjectives that you would use to describe you. Understanding how someone else might describe you is a very powerful tool as well! If you are going to ask someone else to describe you, I would encourage you to put that through a filter. Maybe you’re not doing it to your Facebook group if you haven’t been great about showing up with your brand voice. Maybe you’re not asking someone who doesn’t know you as well. Maybe you’re asking your spouse who knows you and sees even the parts of you that aren’t online. In that case, ask your best friend or a few people who represent your ideal clients and finding those through lines. Pay attention to those descriptive words about you that pop up a lot of those that have similarities.
When you write down those words, sit with it for a while. When I am working with a client about their launch sequence or their website, and we are needing to get their voice, my job is to find their brand voice so that I can write in it! I ask them questions like “If your business was another brand what would it be? Is it Chuck Taylor? Is it Target? Is it Anthropology? Is it Kate Spade?” These all have a different and unique brand! It’s Wendy’s who is known for their social media snark! It’s important to think about other brands that you love and other brands that you might use to describe your business. I ask my clients, “If your brand was a room, what room would it be?” It’s fascinating because often people say, “It’s the living room where everyone comes to gather”. People are looking for a room that is warm or inviting. Some people say their brand is like the kitchen where you have a bunch of different utensils where you have a bunch of stuff that does a bunch of different things. I’ve had people say the outdoor patio where you go to have fun! It’s trying to find these different ways that you can personify yourself and finding the through lines. Figuring out how people describe you, what you like and why, and what are the things that make up you/your personality/how you make others feel.
It’s important to note that when you are defining your brand voice and putting it out there on social media, you need to remember that your brand voice is not for everybody! In the beginning we want to attract everyone, and we want everybody to like us! It’s important to note that if you are going to be strong in your brand voice, you are not going to attract everyone. Would you agree with that Brittany?
Oh my gosh, I could not agree with that more. Here’s the thing: every market, I don’t care what market you’re in, it’s saturated… maybe not overly saturated, but overall, and that’s a good thing! That means that there is market validation for what you do! If you do the same thing as a thousand or a million other people, how is someone going to know that you are the right person for them? I believe in attracting and repelling and I’m very comfortable letting people know who I am and what I stand for. They can decide if they want someone a little bit different than what I have to offer. The people who are like, “YES! I love what she’s saying. I agree with her. I haven’t heard anyone else say it that way”, they are going to flock to me. I am a good copyrighter and I have a great brain for strategy. Yes, there are a lot of people who do what I do, but they don’t serve my exact niche. I know that anyone who needs help with messaging and strategy, they can get on Google or Instagram and find different kinds of copywriters. I want to make sure that when people come to my Instagram or my website that they know what I stand for. The headline… literally, the very first thing you see when you come to my website… has a cuss word in it!
I want people to know that I have some grit to me and I don’t take myself seriously. I also can’t speak in a cloud of fluff… I don’t. have. it. in. me. When we show up as ourselves, we empower people to say, “Yes! That person is for me!” or “You know what, I going to someone else”. That’s a powerful thing. I know you might be reading this and thinking that you want to attract people, you can’t afford to be repelling people business away. Hear me out. If you aren’t attracting and repelling, you are HIDING and fading into the background. No one can find you because people don’t know what you’re trying to say or who you are! It’s like that adage: “If you speak to everyone, you speak to no one!”. The option isn’t attracting or repelling. It’s attracting and repelling or fading into the background.
I always say that you’re being too generic if you’re not repelling!
It’s so true because if somebody can’t figure out who you are or what you’re about, they are going to the person who they can! Going back to saturation. As consumers, we know that whatever it is that we want we know there are dozens of people or places out there that can give us what we are looking for. Why would I buy something from someone that I can’t connect with? Whether I’m buying a handmade blanket for my daughter or I’m hiring a business coach… I can get these services anywhere. Why would I go to someone when I can’t even figure out who they are?
That’s a key point! You want to make connections through your brand voice!
How do I put my personality into my writing?
This is something I do well! *hair flip*
Finding your brand voice can be a challenging process and a big part of why my clients come to me. They need an outside point of view. You might journal on your personality all day long and you can answer some of those voice questions but it doesn’t come to you. Reverse engineer the process and start putting your personality in your writing. Then figure out what that is.
If you’re a business owner and you have an online presence, you have to write a lot of content! I can imagine for a lot of you, that might have been surprising at first! When I say, put your personality in writing, what I mean write the way you talk! There are a lot of different ways to figure out how to do this. It’s a skill you can practice. Whenever you write your content, write it down and then read it out loud! If when you’re writing you’re like, “I would never say this to my best friend!” If you wouldn’t say that, sitting on the couch with your best friend, then don’t write it that way to your audience! You want to keep the content, but if you wouldn’t text your bestie saying, “Hello, what problems are you having in your business today? I would love to help you with that.” Then don’t say that to your audience! You’re gonna sound like a weird robot! Run what your writing though the “BFF filter”, read it out loud and ask yourself if it sounds like you!
Throw out all your grammar rules. I am giving you’re the go-ahead to disappoint your high school English teacher. Instead of breaking up your paragraphs every four sentences, make a one-word sentence.
Break up your paragraph for every one sentence.
Every two or three sentences…
This helps readers to feel the cadence of the way you’re communicating with them. Misspell some stuff! If you want to write FO-Frizzle!!!… Instead of “For Free” because it helps someone to get a feel for your personality!
I like to give this example. Let’s say you have a long southern drawl and you want to address someone by saying “Y’all.” Then you need to drag out those “a’s” and “l’s”! Ok, y’aaaallll!!! Say you are a quick talker and you don’t have time and you talk in a quick cadence you are going to say YOU* GUYS *LISTEN *NOW! You can put those little hand emojis in there and each word could be its own sentence. You can see how your voice and cadence is going to be different from the “Y’aaaaaaallll” people. You can type and write using emojis and sentence formatting, italics, and CAPS to emphasize and communicate your message. As if you were speaking to them in the same room. That is going to give people the feeling like they are sitting on their couch with you. Do you think someone is more likely to spend their money with their couch buddy or with the person who they put up a Facebook ad they’ve never met before? You reader is going to read your writing how they think you are talking. If there is a disconnect they are going to feel like they don’t know you as well or that they don’t understand you.
Brittany, those are such good points. You know, something that I do with my email marketing is that I will send it to myself before a send it out to my list. I make sure that I wait a few hours before I read it so that I am refreshed and haven’t thought about it in a while. That way, when I open it up on my phone at a later time and read it, I can make sure that it still sounds like ME!
That is so great. You know, I never write in real-time and I never write in the platform. You would think, speaking with your own voice would come easy, but it’s a skill that most of us need to learn. At first, you have to work for it! When I say, “don’t write in real-time”, I mean don’t sit down to write your email or newsletter right when you are going to send it. Don’t write your Instagram or Facebook posts right when you are going to post it! Write these things ahead of time, the day before or so, so that you can go back and take a look at it with fresh eyes. Ask yourself if it sounds like you. Also, don’t write in the platform! Everything I write, I write it beforehand in a Google.doc. I want to see it in a plain, neutral platform. I want to be able to know what I should break up, combine or even emphasize. Regardless of what your platform of choice is, writing it in a neutral space a day or two before your post. It will help your brain to see it in a clear way.
Should we worry about sounding “unprofessional” if we start writing in our brand voice?
I get this question all the time! Let me tell you… this is 2020! We are so far past what advertising and marketing looked like in say, 1990 where it was cheesy and robotic. Personal is the new professional! If people cannot understand what you’re saying, you will confuse them they will click off. They don’t pay attention. Our brains want to conserve calories. That is an evolutionary fact! If you are speaking in your industry jargon and trying to structure your sentences in a way that looks complex people will be confused! We aren’t looking for professional experiences. Professionalism is doing high-quality work, having a good system, showing up on time, and speaking kindly. Professional in your work can be seen in the quality of your work or service that you provide. We are not looking to work with people who appear professional, we are looking to work with people that we TRUST! Let me say it again, Personal is the new professional! Any industry jargon you can cut because 95% of your audience doesn’t know what those words mean! For example, I am not going to use the term “sales funnel.” The person may not understand what a sales funnel is. If I am speaking to another marketer, I would use that term because they understand what I’m talking about because they are in the same industry. I am not going to use those words with people that don’t understand them because it can feel very alienating. Another quick tip, studies show that any writing done at a 6th-grade level helps to connect readers more to the subject matter. Writing to your general audience is not going to make you look unprofessional of unintelligent. It’s going to allow them to understand you, connect with you and trust you!
What is your best advice for those of us out there who are feeling overwhelmed or stuck with their brand voice?
It depends on where you are. Like I mentioned before, you can reverse engineer this, or start from scratch. If one of those ways feels overwhelming, then just don’t do it. This is the soul-searching work of “Who are you”. I can’t tell you how many clients I have sent off my “Brand Voice Questionnaire”, which is me trying to excavate their voice. I’ll get an email back saying “I’ll have to send this back later because I’m crying right now”. That happens so often, not because I’m harsh or mean but it’s because it causes you to look at who you are. Yes, you can sit down and start writing about who you want to be, how you want other people to see you, how you want your audience to feel, what are the adjectives that I want other people to use to describe me, and how do I want to show up. But for some people that feels a lot more subjective and a lot less tangible. I would suggest if that doesn’t work for you, go back through your text messages with your best friend and find the phrases that you use a lot. For me, I notice that I use the word “perfect” a lot. When you’re looking through your texts, observe how many words you use in your sentences? Where do you abbreviate? Do you say “Probably” or “Probs”? On my website, I have a section that says, “Do you use email marketing? You probs should because” … I mean that is on my website when I want people to pay me the big bucks, but I also want them to know who I am! Go back through your texts with people that you are calm and confident with and take note in the words, phrases, sentence structure, tone, emojis, cadence, and voice that you use with those you are closest to. Find places that you can go back and see where you have comfortably communicated with people. Use that to reverse engineer your voice. You’re seeing how YOU communicate. Another tip that I have is that if you are struggling with writing, use your voice-to-text. Use Siri to write your content for you. If you want to write an Instagram post, pretend like you are writing it to your best friend. Use the voice-to-text and act like you are telling your best friend the most amazing thing. Afterward, go back through and edit where you need to make sure it reads ok.
Brittany, these are such great tips! Where can we find you and connect with your further?
I am on Instagram… a little too much @brittanylmcbean. The best place to swipe some of my ideas is to get on my email list. I write my emails every week and I use my voice, tell stories, teach, and sell through my email! I know that’s something a lot of people have questions about so if you want to stalk some copy strategies, get on my email list!