Distinguishing your internal and external voices in your brand messaging
When it comes to brand messaging, it's important to know when to use your "internal voice" versus your "external voice".
Your internal voice is the way you talk within your team, company, and industry, while your external voice is the way you talk to customers and other people outside your industry.
To create effective brand messaging, always consider your audience first.
Often, businesses will use company jargon or insider terminology when communicating with their team, but this can be confusing or alienating for external customers if they’re not familiar with that language. Jargon is fine for insiders, where it can help establish your credibility and demonstrate domain expertise. For prospects and customers though, clear and direct language is the way to go.
Remember, when it comes to brand messaging, clarity is key, and we can show you how to achieve it.
Distinguish between your zones of familiarity
Everyone has different zones of familiarity, they differentiate your relationships with other people. Think of them as circles, with your family being the closest to you, and your extended network being the furthest away.
When it comes to brand messaging, it's important that you target your audience correctly. If you're speaking to people who are in your industry, you can use language that is more technical or industry-specific. However, if you're targeting a wider audience, it's important to use language that is more universal.
The same goes for your tone of voice. You can be casual or even cryptic when you're speaking to someone you already know well, but if you're speaking to a stranger, it's important to use a tone that’s appropriate to the conversation and setting. You don’t want to make them work hard to understand what you're communicating.
Remember, clarity is key in brand messaging. Whatever audience you’re speaking to, it’s vital to know and understand who they are and make sure your language and tone are the right fit.
How to know you're using your external voice
So how can you be sure you're using your external voice effectively in your brand communications?
Here are a few tips:
- Keep it simple: use language that everyone can understand, without resorting to jargon. It's fine to be enthusiastic and personable, but avoid being too salesy.
- Be consistent: use the same tone and style of language across all your communications. If you've identified your target audience, make sure your language appeals to them and then use it consistently.
- Be honest: don't make promises you can't keep or try to mislead your audience. They'll see through it and it will damage your credibility.
- Be clear: avoid ambiguity by being clear and concise in your messaging. This will help ensure that your audience understands your message the first time they hear it.
- Be responsive: if you're using social media, respond to comments and queries in a timely manner. This shows that you're listening and that you care about your audience. Making sure you're responsive to your audience's needs and feedback will help create a strong relationship between you and them.
By following these tips, you can make sure you're using your external voice in your brand communications, and connect with your audience in a way that is genuine, personable, and authentic.
Using the 12-year-old test
We've all heard the phrase, "explain it to me like I'm five", but cliches aside, simplifying your message so that it can be understood by a younger person is a good way to test the clarity of your brand messaging.
Most 12-year-olds have a good grasp of grammar, can understand complex concepts, and are old enough to have an opinion. If you can explain your brand messaging in a way that a 12-year-old would understand and connect with, then you're on the right track.
Breaking down the language you use and understanding how someone who is new to your brand would interpret your message will help ensure that your communications are clear and on point.
This also goes for using industry jargon — if you aren’t explaining what you do in layman's terms, there's a good chance your messaging isn't as clear as it could be.
Simplifying language helps everyone and more organizations are recognizing the benefits too. The Massachusetts state government has said their goal is to keep their website at a 6th grade reading level so their citizens can easily understand and navigate complicated government systems.
Even the CDC, the American Medical Association and the National Institutes of Health recommend that public health information should be no higher than an 8th grade reading level to be accessible to the average person.
An analysis of Medium’s content showed that articles written at a 6th grade level or below get 25% more recommendations than more difficult to read articles. Keep it simple so your audience can understand without effort and they’re more likely to engage.
Remember, you want people to understand what you do and why they should care, without needing a dictionary. Obviously, you don't want to patronize your audience, but you don’t want to alienate them by confusing them either.
Making sure your messaging is understandable and relatable will help ensure that people keep coming back for more.
When internal voice can be the right choice
Strategically using your internal voice with the right audience can also be an effective way to demonstrate your experience and expertise within your industry.
Obviously using your internal voice makes sense within your team and company, and jargon and technical terminology is useful in your industry as a whole and with fellow industry insiders.
It’s possible that elements of your internal voice can be useful with certain external audiences too. Sometimes you can use jargon in your messaging to establish credibility when you understand exactly who you’re talking to and what their level of knowledge is.
For example, our client Notabene is in the crypto field. When we started working with them, we'd never heard of VASPs. It stands for virtual asset service providers. What the heck does that mean? For the layman, all it means is companies who deal in crypto. But, since their target audience is other large companies in finance, the term VASPs proves to them that they understand the nuances of different types of financial products.
If you have a niche audience who will recognize more technical language or terminology, it can be an opportunity to prove you have the domain expertise to really meet their needs.
Thinking through these distinctions and being intentional with your voice choices can refine your brand messaging and help your team be more effective with their language across customer communications.
Use the right voice for your audience
So there you have it, a few tips on how to make sure you're using your internal and external voices in the right way when it comes to brand messaging and how to create content that resonates with your audience.
Now it's time to get out there and start putting these tips into practice!
If you're still struggling with getting your brand messaging on track, we can help. Get in touch today and let us help you take your brand communications to the next level.