The rise of artificial intelligence. Global audiences. Competition from impossibly nimble start-ups. Countless channels for interaction. The realities of business today have more and more companies thinking about verbal branding.
Whether it’s defining their voice, shaping their messages or creating a more adaptive content strategy, many brands recognize that a strong verbal branding strategy has tangible impact in the market—helping them show up with a consistent, differentiating presence across social, digital marketing, product interfaces, and whatever comes next.
But unlike other branding tools, like a new logo, visual identity or product name, verbal branding strategies can too often wind up replaced or simply forgotten. It doesn’t matter how brilliant the insight was or how powerful the strategy is—if it isn’t being used, it can’t make an impact.
But it doesn’t have to be this way.
3 Ways to Activate Your Verbal Branding Strategy
By managing and planning the launch of your verbal branding strategy, you can truly put it to work for your business. Here are three ways to ensure your verbal branding strategy makes an impact in the real world.
1. Make it real with training
Any change in how a brand operates requires education in order for it to be fully adopted, and verbal branding is no exception. Training teams need to understand a verbal strategy. This is a crucial step that is often overlooked—perhaps due to the daunting task of simply getting entire teams of marketers in the same room for several hours.
But in order for marketers and writers to be able to deliver against the new strategy consistently and confidently, they need to do more than read your guidelines; they need to learn the ideas within them. Consider learning your voice and messaging like learning a second language—proficiency takes practice.
At Prophet, we believe that the best trainings are in-person and high-touch. When we train communication teams, we pair educational content with interactive exercises, break-out activities, and group writing and editing. And don’t forget the fun—playful ice breakers, prizes, snacks and breaks are a great way to keep people engaged. Trainings are most successful when people are comfortable opening up, trying new things, asking questions, and challenging thinking—both their own and that of their peers.
2. Make it easy to engage with
With a little practice, your teams can become fluent in the new verbal branding strategy. But just like speaking a second language, people need to engage over time to keep their skills sharp. To drive engagement, we have two principles. First, share content frequently and consistently. And second, make it easy to access.
Digital technology can provide a central reservoir to house your content and engage your teams. With something as simple as an intranet hub, you can “push” updates to your strategy, replace old files and fix “bugs” or tactics that proved to be ineffective—all while alerting teams to what’s been added or changed. It’s not unlike how software companies deliver updates to your smartphone.
To optimize engagement, it’s important to keep updates frequent and at regular intervals, planning out your internal employee engagement the way you plan your content calendar. Maybe you begin every quarter by highlighting best-in-class pieces from different teams, or sharing an interview with a lead content creator. Or you could publish a new version of your guidelines every twelve months, with new proof points, examples and updates. Your timing will likely depend on your resources, but whatever you do, make it consistent. And remember to communicate before, during and after you share updates to ensure teams know what’s available to them.
Finally, just like brands across categories are learning, a great way to drive engagement is to gamify it. Rewarding employees for answering questions correctly, commenting or evaluating others’ pieces, or engaging overall is an easy way to keep your teams coming back for more.
3: Make it global
In today’s world, growing your business increasingly means entering and strengthening your presence in global markets. And with increasingly global commerce and consumers, it’s more important than ever to deliver a cohesive, consistent brand in every market.
But while your visual identity can’t get lost in translation, your verbal branding strategy can. If you’re in the U.S. and considering entering China, Latin America or even the United Kingdom, you need to consider the cultural and linguistic nuances unique to each market. Increasingly brands are moving towards more casual, colloquial expressions—but is that the right tonality in Asia where communications tend to be more formal? In the U.S., directly addressing customers may sound simple, but what does that mean in Spanish-speaking countries that have two different versions of “you”?
The answer is not translation, but transcreation, or adaptation of strategies to work in local markets. At Prophet, when we transcreate verbal branding strategies, it’s not about creating translated, identical tools in each market, but rather, upholding the objective of the original work while reflecting the cultural and linguistic nuances of the language(s) spoken in the new markets. This might mean re-articulating, re-interpreting or re-prioritizing core ideas and tactics.
But equally as important as the process you follow are the people you partner with. True transcreation can only be done with in-market, native speakers that also have a deep understanding of the business and verbal strategy.
In transcreating your verbal strategies, your voice and messages will sound very different in English, Korean or Russian—but the relationship you build with customers through your communications will be the same.
Verbal branding tools can be some of the most effective in a marketer’s toolkit—helping to draw audiences in to a new idea, alleviate customer frustrations when experiences fall down, and most of all, build relationships that drive loyalty. By taking an active and ongoing approach to your verbal branding strategies, you can help your organization use them to their full potential.
Prophet helps companies develop verbal branding strategies that encourage brand growth.