6th March 2021

You’re only as strong as your weakest ink

by Darren Clare

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Customers’ journeys aren’t the straight line they once were. Far from having a clear ‘path to purchase’, there’s now a much messier middle – where your prospective customers will interact with you across many channels. And, whilst it’s been many years since we used good old fashioned ink to communicate – the idea is still the same. Consistency matters.
As marketers, you have an array of channels at your disposal. From the well-documented high-performing TV and billboard adverts to the newer formats of podcast advertising or Tiktoks. Although it might not make sense to use all of these in your marketing mix, the best chance of success comes from using a range of touchpoints relevant to your audience. From a campaign perspective, this is easier to manage, as you’ll be focusing on one route to market at a time, allowing for consistency of messaging. But what about your always-on touchpoints? This is where a great brand can become diluted. And even one weak link in the chain can cause irreparable damage to your brand equity over time.
Here we highlight the most common places for brands to lose their identity and show how you can maintain strength of voice across them.

Website

Your website is the largest piece of owned property you have, making it the jewel in your comms strategy. However, it may also be a Frankenstein’s monster of content created by many product owners, marketing bods and agencies over the years. One of our most frequent requests is to help companies create a consistent voice across the website. And by having us lead on the content creation or editing, we have both eyes focused on every word written – something that’s not always easy to have when you’re in the trenches of stakeholder review, site design, and go-live action plans.

Emails

Emails are one of the most effective one-to-many marketing strategies out there, but cutting through the clutter takes consistency and persistence. We’re not saying bombard your user base, far from it – but you do need to have a clear and consistent email marketing strategy, as it may not be your first email that a user clicks on. It may not even be your eighth. We’re constantly encouraging our clients to utilise different formats to mix up the delivery of their content. But what doesn’t need to change is the way you talk to your customers and how you make them feel. From the most exciting retail brands to the most technical B2B companies – when your audience sees an email from you in their inbox, they will feel some way about it. You can surprise and delight them with your content, but don’t confuse them with mixed messages.

Social media

The fun younger sibling of the digital content world – we’ve all seen the many news stories of brands levelling up the cheekiness across Twitter, Facebook and now TikTok. And people love it.
Because of the fast-paced nature of social media, it can be tempting to think that brand consistency is less relevant. The truth is that because audiences are now interacting with your brand many more times a day, you have to work even harder to maintain your personality while flexing to the format of the moment.
The best social content strategy is an agile one, allowing your brand to react and interact with your audience in real-time. So what you don’t want to do is send your copy through rounds of review before being allowed to send it out into the world.
So how do you balance creating off-the-cuff social moments with maintaining brand integrity? Considered and comprehensive tone of voice guidelines that give your teams a deep understanding of your brand, allowing them the confidence to know how and when to flex it for full effect.

The small print

If social media is the fun sibling, small print is the tutting aunt in the corner. Admittedly, it’s not particularly fun to write (and even less so to proof!) But even in most legal documents, there’s still a chance for you to reinforce your tone and personality.
Some legal terms are not to be trifled with to protect both you and the consumer. However, you can expand on them, adding explanations that work well for your brand and target audience.
And some small print is just asking to be jazzed up a bit. A great example of this is app-store updates. We’ve seen a trend in companies using this tiny bit of space to showcase their personality. Here’s a great example from Slack where they haven’t compromised on the usefulness of the information offered, but they’ve still sprinkled in a touch of the Slack charm:
Weakest ink
Another underutilised asset is your 404 page. Errors occur, and users both expect and are sympathetic to the fact. So having standard 404 text won’t do any harm, but we think it’s a wasted opportunity. If going full guns blazing with a silly page isn’t your style, why not try something like MailChimp’s example below? It’s simple, doesn’t try too hard but still gives a bit of personality to an otherwise functional page.
Weakest Ink

Customer service

As Richard Branson says – your colleagues really are your best customers. And they’re also the best tool in your arsenal for creating a brand voice that echoes beyond billboard adverts. But the larger and more complex your company, the harder it can be to convey your brand voice to those who face customers every day. Not because colleagues don’t want to, but the further they are away from the brand ideation process, the more diluted the messaging can be. By creating brand champions within your organisation, you can help your message spread and ensure that you’re not always just providing a top-down ‘this is our brand now, use it’ message.

Consistency is king

We know it’s not the most inspiring part of creating content – but consistency is what keeps the big brands at the top of the food chain. And, far from being the enemy of creativity – the more you can nail consistency in your comms, the more freedom you have to create innovative ways to spread your message far and wide. If you need help getting your ducks in a row, speak to a comms agency used to doing just that.