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Classics: How to Translate Your Brand’s Tone of Voice into Messaging: Show Notes & Transcript

Post | Dec 12, 2023

Welcome back to Marketing Smarts! From brand-building and marketing veterans Anne Candido and April Martini (that’s us) comes a podcast committed to cutting through all the confusing marketing BS so you can actually understand how to take action and change your business today. We deep-dive into topics most would gloss-over, infusing real-world examples from our combined 35+ years of corporate and agency experience. We tell it how it is so whether you are just starting out or have been in business awhile, you have the Marketing Smarts to immediately impact your business.

In this episode, we’re talking how to translate your brand’s tone of voice into messaging. Listen to the episode on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and your other favorite podcast spots – follow and leave a 5-star review if you’re exercising your Marketing Smarts!

  • Episode Summary & Player
  • Show Notes
  • Marketing Smarts Summary
  • Transcript

Marketing Smarts: Classics: How to Translate Your Brand’s Tone of Voice into Messaging

This episode is designed to assist you in the next step of executing your brand and all the challenging and scary things it brings with it! You’ve defined your brand character, developed your TOV (Tone of Voice), and next comes the messaging. But what does that really entail? Bringing the brand you’ve spent countless hours creating to life can give you an “OH $^!t” moment. But don’t worry. We have you covered and give you the tools you need so you can put your plan into action! If you haven’t already listened to our episodes on brand character and TOV, go download them NOW! This episode covers everything from branding to content marketing. Here’s a small sample of what you will hear in this episode:

  • How do you translate your brand’s tone of voice into messaging?
  • What can you do instead of hiring someone to lead this?
  • How do you build a consistent brand?
  • What brands do an amazing job with their messaging strategy?
  • How do you know which communications to revise?
  • Why should you audit your existing materials?
  • How do you define your messaging pillars?
  • What does the Geek Squad do best?

And as always, if you need help in building your Marketing Smarts, don’t hesitate to reach out to us at:

Check out the episode, show notes, and transcript below:

Show Notes

What is Marketing Smarts?

From brand-building and marketing veterans Anne Candido and April Martini comes a podcast committed to cutting through all the confusing marketing BS so you can actually understand how to take action and change your business today. They deep-dive into topics most would gloss-over, infusing real-world examples from their combined 35+ years of corporate and agency experience. They tell it how it is so whether you are just starting out or have been in business awhile, you have the Marketing Smarts to immediately impact your business.

How do I exercise my Marketing Smarts?

Thanks for listening to Marketing Smarts. Get in touch here to become a savvier marketer. 


Please note: this transcript is not 100% accurate.

Anne Candido 0:02
This is Marketing Smarts – a podcast committed to helping you become a savvier marketing leader, no matter your level. In each episode, we will dive into a relevant topic or challenge that marketing leaders are currently facing. We will also give you practical tools and applications that will help you put what you learn into practice today. And if you miss anything, don’t worry, we put worksheets on our website that summarize the key points. Now, let’s get to it.

April Martini 0:29
Welcome to Marketing Smarts. I am Anne Candido and I am April martini, and today is another Marketing Smarts Classics, how to translate your brand’s tone of voice into messaging. We’ve done more work this year than ever before on brand, character tone of voice and messaging. And we also have episodes on character and tone of voice as well if you need them, so please refer to them. Now more than ever, though, how you say something is just as important if not more than what you’re saying, which becomes a huge definer of Brand Character and whether people will buy what you’re ultimately selling. It’s a highly nuanced art, but when done right can catapult you through the sea of nothingness. So we felt this was a good time to help our audience understand how to translate their brand character and tone of voice from strategy into action. With that, let’s jump into the episode. This is where you get to the execution portion of your brand. And things really become real. And we know it can be a bit of a challenge to take that step without some help. So therefore, this episode,

Anne Candido 1:29
right? So it isn’t a reminder here to set the stage. Your Brand Character is where the process starts. So So defining your brand by human characteristics as if it were a live person. So I’ve talked about that before things like how you would describe somebody to your best friend, like if they’re funny, or they’re they’re nice, or they’re loving or what No, all those words rain. And April, you stop me from saying this wrong, because this is your area. No, I won’t. You’re good. Okay. And so from there, you develop your tone of voice, which becomes the how the brand character comes to life. So those are the choices you make. So it’s like, funny, haha, not crass. Right? Right. So those are the choices you make and how your tone of voice come to life. So messaging is the final step where you put that into action. So we have episodes and worksheets and all of these things. So you can go back and listen to all that on brand, character and tone of voice. If you don’t have those in your toolkit yet, they’re really good basis for this episode. Yep,

April Martini 2:25
so we’re kind of completing the package here with messaging. Alright, and with that, we will get into how to translate your brand’s tone of voice into messaging. Number one, audit your existing materials. And I’ll go ahead and take this one. So you’ve heard us talk about auditing before, it’s part of the process at various steps when you’re revamping your brand. And it’s also an important step when we get here in the whole tone of voice Brand Character messaging kind of package. As I said, this is because it helps you identify areas where you might have been inconsistent or even non existent when it came to your effective tone of voice. So this is why we talked about in the setup, starting with your character, and then your tone of voice so that you can effectively have a messaging strategy put into place and existing materials come in all forms. They can include website, copy marketing materials, internal messaging, or documents you send out regularly to employees, speeches that have been given keynotes, social media, ads, talking points you have out there for PR, all of the things that you communicate with verbally, whether that’s actual people saying things or written communications. That’s what we’re asking you to audit here. And when you are auditing, you’re looking very specifically for the following things. messaging that does not match up or is said in a whole variety of ways you need to pick one messaging that anyone could say this is what we would call commodity text, if your competitors could pull it out and say it to shouldn’t be their messaging that fails to connect on an emotional level, again, back to that commodity comment in that space, asking those important brand questions, which we also talk about all of the time, who am I? Why would you want me? How am I different finding ways to communicate your message through your brand character using those tone of voice principles to bring that personality to life in a consistent way. You’re also looking for things that are fundamental to who you are and that you want to pull forward even if the tone may not be right at this point. So those could be we kind of look at these as like proof points, right? Like why are you in existence kind of beyond that emotional thing. So facts and figures that tell the story of your brand and support why someone should choose you lines of copy that do get out the emotional connection, even if they need to be tweaked to fit the tone or messaging that does make you different from your competition and answers those three brand questions we outlined above. So this is not throw everything out. The audit is meant to Yes, identify areas where you need to improve, but also identify things that you can say you know, that is who we are or that is how we want to sound we might not have been consistent about it but if I have to pick These are the things that are starting to lean into what I think we want to be and how we want to connect on that emotional brand level with our consumers. Yeah,

Anne Candido 5:08
I, I love this. Because it also can be a very telling but very heart wrenching to some extent exercise right now. Because sometimes you’re looking at you’re like, I’m gonna redo everything like, you know, and that’s the natural inclination, as you mentioned. And that starts to kind of weigh people down. And we’re like, Well, I don’t have the money for that. I don’t have the time for this,

April Martini 5:31
I have a day job,

Anne Candido 5:32
I have a day job. Right? And you know, and I already just, you know, invested in this. And, you know, it’s there’s a lot of questions and a lot of speculation that comes into play as to whether or not you should go do it. April is 1,000%, right, you need to look at your materials and think about how hard the materials are working for you. I love what you said about commodity text. Because I think that’s a really great way of really filtering through, yep, whether or not the materials are working as hard for you as they could, if you can cover up your name of your business and put your competition’s name in there, and it still makes sense for them. And you have to be very honest with yourself. It is not doing the work that it needs to in order to really establish your brand. And those three key questions, which is who am I? Why would you want me and how am I different? Yep. Right? So think about that in the context of if you can do that. And it’s saying hi screaming to you and like red lights like, Oh, I’m anybody start thinking about well, then how do I differentiate? How do I talk about who I am in a way that is a little bit more specific to me and a little bit more unique to me? And why would somebody choose me as a result of this? Do I have the right proof points to? Or do I need to get new proof points? If I don’t even know what they are right now? That’s fine. Yeah. But you just are at least are like highlighting them and articulating the fact that, hey, this isn’t working as well as it could. And then you’re gonna kind of chunk it out and bite it off as you can, right? Yep, absolutely,

April Martini 6:53
really good builds. All right, number two, define the messaging pillars. And I’m going to hand this one to an because she’s been living this a little bit for one of our clients lately, and definitely helped me refine this section. So an overview. Yeah,

Anne Candido 7:08
and this one can be a little bit hard to articulate. So I’m going to try it a couple of different ways in April. keep me honest, if this is making sense. Yeah, this is one where it was hard to give you like the step by step full transparency. So right, but we Exactly, yeah. Now what I will say is, we have a deep dive worksheet on message tracks, that is a good place to start that kind of gives the format or a format for how to think through this, because the thing to keep in mind here is that we’re calling a messaging pillars. Um, I was in PR, we called it message tracks. Yeah. I mean, there’s so many munication tracks. I mean, people can call a bunch of different things. In reality, it’s the same strategy, which is first identifying what you want people to believe about you. Yes, ultimately, what do you want people to believe about you? What do you want them to take away? It’s generally something more on the emotional side, right? Now, generally, when you gotta go back and do your audit, and this is the case where like, 90% of you want to go back and do their audits, they finding that they kind of resigned themselves to a really functional way of talking about absolutely, they talk about what they do. Yeah, we are to count where accountants or even if you’re saying, We’re fantastic, out of this world, the best accountants ever right? You know, it’s that language doesn’t help to differentiate you. Because again, you put your hand over that that could be anybody can claim that right? So what we want you to do is start to think about things in terms of how you’re impacting others. Yeah, that is the key here. And so what you want people to believe, get your self in that mindset of what kind of impact do you want to have on them, so they believe something about you, that is a value to them, okay, so that’s the, that’s where you start, and I’m gonna ticket through it a little bit of an example here in a second, but just hold with me for a second, then you identify three to five buckets that are based on your tone of voice, generally three is about all you can handle, when it starts becoming about closer to the five, it starts to kind of feel very much the same, you start kind of it starts kind of feeling a little diluted across the board, I guess, is what I’m trying to say. And it’s hard to kind of differentiate as to all stars kind of mushing together. So three is generally the number sometimes it could be four, but try to do three,

April Martini 9:20
especially if you haven’t done this before. You got to give yourself what you can manage against. I think you get closer to the five when you’re more in it and your brand is maturing. And you can have slightly different platforms, but totally agree you got to start and put the stakes in the ground. And I think when you look at your auditing back to that first point, that’s where you usually typically start to see buckets of things that can inspire what those look

Anne Candido 9:44
like. Right, exactly. So those buckets become the how you’re delivering or why somebody should believe that about you. Okay. And the format that I use that kind of helps you think through this as like I am something so this is what you want people to believe about. You because and that becomes your sub point or your your bucket point, right? So for example, I am in expert in marketing, right. So if that was what I want people to believe about me, then obviously the there’s more to that, and that belief statement because I haven’t gotten to the impact yet. But I’m trying to simplify for the, for just this discussion for right now. If I am I want people to believe I’m an expert in marketing, my How are my sub point would be because I have 40 years of experience in marketing, right? So it might be a proof point now, underneath that is sub points that then reinforced that point? Yeah. So it’s like I’ve had 20 years at P&G, I’ve had five years on my own, I have gone across these industries, I have delivered this kind of work. So that letters up to what that 40 years of experience look like so that it letters back up to why I’m an expert. So another point might be more of a deep dive is like I have a lot of expertise in a certain area like PR, communications, influencer marketing, I’ve done this. So you start seeing how this kind of breaking across now the whole goal here is not to just reiterate your message track based on what it was before. Yeah, it’s to embrace the tone of voice Yes. And so that it starts to infiltrate through your whole message track or your your messaging pillars. So that voice in the way that you want to articulate a way that way you want that to show up, start to come through across all of your different marketing channels. Right. So that’s starts becoming like the structure for how this thing looks. Now you can start to kind of pressure test it to if you’re kind of not sure where to start, or what it should look like you could start kind of ideating and then pressure testing based on a couple questions here. So one is, is there a single statement that encompasses what you’re trying to communicate with them this pillar again, that helps you to kind of like really drill down about what you want people to know, what is important for people to know, in order for them to believe, for my example, that I’m a marketing expert, okay. So really think about what that how that’s important. And think about how that differentiates you from your competition, too. So what is something that’s about you, that may not be about your competition, that if somebody understood and believed it would ladder up to that overarching takeaway that you want people to have? Right? Then you have to dress though to is a big enough, right? And because sometimes we bail it down so far, that then the supporting point becomes nothing, right? There’s like one supporting so there’s like one? Yeah, and if that’s the case, and you’re the statement you’re trying to make is probably a supporting point, not the overarching point right? Now, that doesn’t mean you should generalize your your messaging pillars that they’re so general, that it could mean anything to anybody, again, you have to be very specific as to how they mean something to you. But at some points become that way of potentially differentiating and think about again, isn’t emotional enough? Have you gotten to functional again, again, people totally gravitate to things like we provide good service? Well, great, I would expect everybody to provide good service you should expect at all your competition provides good service, how do you provide service in a way that impacts others and impacts the way that they feel about you, that becomes the way that you build that out. So instead of we provide good service, it’s, we provide service, so you don’t have to worry about anything yet with regard to this process. So that starts becoming the way that you start bringing it to life and how your tone of voice starts to link back or link through your your message tracking links back into your brand character. How did I do on that?

April Martini 13:43
I think that was really good. And as you were talking, well, I think you covered that much better than I could have said, there you go

Anne Candido 13:50
gold star for you for today. Well, yeah, I only did it for 10 years.

April Martini 13:55
But I think the important part and why this is hard to articulate and give you like really salient ways to go and do this is because it is that bridge, which means that the character traits, the tone of voice principles, and then the messaging pillars or buckets, or whatever you want to call them, they all really do have to work together. Right. And so I think that the messaging becomes more functional by nature, comparatively to the character and the tone of voice, because you’re starting to be more, you know, pragmatic or specific about how you deliver right and words. Yes, but you it is really important to the point you made that you don’t lean too far than the other way and go back into the functional stuff that you had before. So, I will just put a fine point by giving one example from our tone, right so our brand character, we are forthright that is our name right? That is an inherent characteristics that Anna and I share, and that we believe is very foundational to our brand. The tone of voice principle is we are direct act but not disrespectful. So then when we get to messaging, we say we give clear and actionable direction. Right? That’s kind of the respectful, respectful. Yeah, like that’s the payoff, right? But so clear and actionable direction. Could be said, by lots of people, but reflect different tones. Right? So like is it goes all the way through? It’s like, an and I will never say client, that was a dumb answer to that question. That’s not right. We’re the experts. Here’s why. Right? We will say, I appreciate the point and that you are the expert in your business. However, based on our lens as an outside resource, we believe it should look like this. Right? And so you can start to see how we have a tone about us. And I mean, that example, like, probably no one’s ever gonna say a client’s dumb, right. But I mean, it just to show you well, hopefully not.

But we never take a stance that is super ego driven, right. But like all of those things have to work together in the way that we communicate in order to build that higher level connection with people and get them to understand very specifically, how we’re different why they want us and why to choose us. Yeah, right on. All right, point number three here, utilize before and afters. All right, you have your messaging strategy, yay. Now, what do you do? So, similar to the audit, we’re trying to give you tools here, right. And so one that I am a huge fan of, is what we call before and afters. We’ve talked already about how you can’t tackle it all at once. You can’t boil the ocean, you’re gonna get overwhelmed if you try to go and do that. So pick a couple of pieces. And, you know, here I would say the ones that live in the middle, quote unquote, as far as content goes, so you have enough to work with, but you don’t have too much to work with. So really specifically, don’t say, I’m going to go put my messaging strategy to work on a billboard, which should have seven words, or a 250 by 250 pixel digital ad, there’s not enough to work with there on the other side, don’t undertake doing your website as your first foray into putting your messaging strategy to work, right. So what you’re looking to do here is put it into practice in a very manageable way. And some things to think about while you’re doing this. Okay. So first, you don’t have to use every single aspect of your tone and messaging strategy in every communication, right? We like to call your tone of voice and your messaging or describe them as lovers. So just like personalities of people, they’re multi dimensional. So it’s your brand character and your tone. But you don’t always show all parts of those together at one time. It’s not like, Okay, I’m going to check the box and make sure I used every single personality trait. And I pulled every single lever of my tone of voice. And I filled all the boxes of my messaging strategy, right. So I gave that example right before and set myself up nicely here, to be able to show and share that, you know, that’s one piece of it, right? The forthrightness, the direct, but respectful through to how that comes to life and the messaging strategy, that’s just one lever that I pulled with that example. Okay, second thing, think about the audience you’re trying to communicate with the piece. And what that main message is, start there, think through how to answer this with your messaging strategy. And then and and made this point really clearly in the previous point, you have to make sure it does connect emotionally. So we talked about this being a little bit of a transition point, right. And where it falls off is when people go way too functional too fast. It might sound funny at first, but you really are trying to connect at a higher level than just the functionality of what you’re going to provide. And this is where you can really set the stage for what they can come to expect from you and how it comes through in your messaging strategy, they have to need you and know you and like you well beyond any of the things that you give them, whether that’s product service, or whatever. And then definitely do use your proof point. So those facts and figures and the functional items that you’ve identified from the audit that you want to pull forward, to back up the emotional stuff, you do have to show your expertise and show that you can deliver, this is just not the place that you want to start it becomes more of the payoff versus all of the collective content that’s there. And then once you write something, go back and check to make sure that you’ve been consistent in the communication. You don’t have to worry if it feels a little bit disjointed at first. I mean, this is placing you in a place of not normal or a little bit uncomfortable for people. So it is hard to get a handle on it’s not going to be perfect the first time around it is it does become over time muscle memory. So once you start to really lean into the personality, the tone of voice and the messaging, this is where it becomes more natural and that framework then just becomes your checks and balances for yourself so you will more naturally start to write against it. And then you just want to go back and say, Okay, did I hit what I was trying to hit based on this toolkit that I have. And then bonus points if you literally break down the before and after. So one of the things we often provide in toolkits for our clients is, Will will put the before there, right? And then we will highlight things that have changed. And then also call out which tone of voice principles or which portions of the messaging strategy are being utilized where, and also then which ones are not right, you can naturally show that. Okay, so here, I want to be more confident. So I’m gonna lean into being less funny. That’s kind of a backburner. So really, this piece is about building confidence and showing who we are and our swagger and that sort of thing, right? So you highlight those, and then you can put those directly in your brand book or your toolkit or whatever, so that other people that come and start writing on the brand, then aren’t starting from just the messaging strategy. They have actual executions of what came before how we do it now and the choices that were being made. Yeah,

Anne Candido 21:00
I think this is really helpful, that has seen a transformation. And I think there’s two elements of it that I wanted to call out, which is, there’s an element of style. And there’s an element of content, right? Yes. Good point. So as you’re thinking about this, it because this might actually be even an easier place to start, which is to think about is your messaging conveying what, again, you want people to believe about your business? And you look at two things you would say, is the style or the way that I’m saying it? Yep. And is the words I’m using appropriate, right. So for example, go back to the forthright example that you’re giving, it’s like, if we want people to believe that we’re forthright, our style of writing needs to be direct, it needs to be clear, it needs to be using as least amount of words as possible in order to convey it. So don’t feel like there’s hidden meaning that we’re trying to like, you know, gaslight people into believing this about us. So that’s the style of writing, right? So those are those elements of tone of voice elements that start showing up in the style of the way that’s written, as well as the words we’re using to make sure the words themselves are very specific and intentional in order to convey that directness. Yep. Right. And we say that all the time, when we’re expressing a say, Listen, you don’t have time for us to kind of dance around it and try to make you feel good about what’s happening. Now we’re gonna be very respectful in the way that we’re sharing it with you. But you hired us because we are going to tell you directly what we think is going on here that you can fix, you may or may not like it, yep. But this is what you hired us to do. And that’s what people know about us, you know, so we have to make sure that the way that we articulate what we do in our website, and the way that we talk about it, even on our podcast, and the way that we talk about it, you know, in all of our social, I mean, we have to make sure that that transparency, that directness, comes through, both in the words that we use and the style of writing. So it’s a lot that we’re trying to give this to you. And it’s not necessarily as April said, like a playbook by which to go about doing it, there’s a lot of nuances. But what we want you to take away here is that when you use like the before, after is when you use the audit, you start then refining a character that then becomes ownable, to you. And without it, you kind of get into that commodity place. So that’s the exercise. So hopefully that helps to kind of like, just kind of distill it down a little bit into something that’s hopefully easy to

April Martini 23:27
absorb. And we have some examples coming later, too, that I think will contextualize how other people do this well, and in relatable ways. Yep. Yep. All right, number four, stay active and engaged in. Right. So

Anne Candido 23:41
I mean, this is what we say across all things brand is that you can set it and forget it. Now, we’re not saying this is an exercise you go through on a monthly basis. No, it generally stays and have some it has some longevity, you have to be continuously aware of what’s going on in your environment around you to make sure that your language continues to maintain a level of freshness and relevancy and the environment you’re in. Because environments can change very quickly. That’s culturally in the context of your cultural environment. And in your industry environment. If your competition starts saying things, we’re not saying that you need your kit and start to say different things, but you should be aware of that. And you should anticipate that to some extent, about how that is going to impact the way that you are going to talk about your brand going forward. Right. So you should set up some sort of like regular cadence for reviewing this and making sure that it is in fact relevant and still authentic to your brand. But the good thing is, is as you start practicing this, your muscle memory will start kind of taking over. So initially, it’s going to be a little bit cumbersome. It’s going to take some effort, it’s going to take you know people really kind of calling each other out and really talking about like it was this Is this it like in trying to nail that down, it will be messy to begin with, it will start streaming itself out as it becomes clearer or eight. So build the tools as April saying she’d give me a lot of fairly fantastic examples of how to build the tools, take those before and after it really consistently use them, document them in your in your brand standards so that you have those references that will all help. Now, when you do want to really take a look at this, and it becomes a more of immediate urgency to take a look at these things, and making sure that you’re leveraging them in the appropriate way, is when you’re doing things like bringing on new team members. So this is part of their onboarding, it should continue to be part of their onboarding. But also keep in mind as you’re bringing on new team members, and you might want the business or the brand to kind of reflect some of the new tone of voice that’s kind of coming in, it’s okay to tweak those things, especially if you’re making concerted effort to maybe if you’ve been an older kind of like more heritage based company or bringing in new blood, you may want to have a little bit of a tone of voice shifts so that you that new blood starts to kind of feel a little bit fresher, right? So that’s those are things are totally fine, as long as you’re dealing with intent. And they’re excited about it too, then, because it’s more relevant exactly. You also may have new innovation or new offerings you’re announcing and haven’t talked about before. Again, this should show up in the context of your message strategy. And it should show up in the context of your tone of voice and your brand character. If it doesn’t fit, that might be a cause of kind of rethink about how things are coming to life. And if they’re still relevant, the marketplace shifts, new competitors come in a disrupter enters again, not to knee jerk it, please do not need your kid. I used to say this all the time in around P&G. It’s like, we’re this big, behemoth company, but we’d act like the little girl in the kitchen when a mouse would run it. And I mean, I know that’s a very stereotypical thing to say, jeez, it was it would be like that, you know, it’s kind of like, there’s a mouse in my kitchen, I’m like, this kitchen issue, you’re worried about this little mouse, I’m like, we are going to be totally fine. Now, that might not be the same case for everybody else. And I know sometimes when when people do things, it has a very immediate impact on your business. So yes, take it seriously, but don’t need jerk in you know, pull everything and do a 101 ad. And that’s generally doesn’t work either. So be very intentional and very strategic. Maybe you’re coming up on a major event, like a conference, a sales meeting, internal board meeting, these are really good opportunities to maybe test out some new tone of voice messaging, maybe to see how the little bit of a different style resonates. Again, because they’re more of an isolated setting, it gives you a little bit of a liberty to try something out without feeling like it’s a all or nothing kind of thing, right. So make sure that you know, you use these opportunities to do some testing, make sure you’re not setting it and forgetting it. But also make sure that you’re not knee jerking every time something comes in, that kind of causes you a little bit of anxiety or fear. Yeah,

April Martini 27:59
and we would say to you, no, all of this points super important. But also consider appointing or hiring someone that’s in charge of your brand communications, if you do not have that on your team. Currently, when this becomes someone’s job, it elevates the communications without question, we realize that this is an investment, but to some of the points we’ve made before, I mean, it you know, everyone has their day jobs. And if you want to build consistently quickly, and make sure that someone is always having their eye on things, and that it’s owned in one specific place, that’s a really good thing to do, if you can afford it, and it’s appropriate and all those things. Alright, so just to recap how to translate your brand’s tone of voice into messaging. Number one, audit your existing materials, starting with what you have sheds light on what to keep and what to get rid of define the messaging pillars, this is the future framework for all communication. So make sure it’s all encompassing of what you need to say, utilize before and after side by side comparisons are great tools for keeping things on track, and teaching others how to message against the brand. And finally, stay active and engaged. This is not a set it and forget it, you always have to have an eye on how you’re communicating. And on to our next segment, which is in the trenches where we give real world examples specific to industries and situations but with broad application for anyone to digest and put into action. Number one, we have a lot of people that draft content for our brand. How do we build consistency? And and I’ll pass this one to you. Yeah,

Anne Candido 29:24
which is basically the basis for this entire episode, right? Which is, I mean, it exemplifies the importance of your brand character, your tone of voice and your messaging because that is so vital to the core of your brand, that it is fundamental in order to actually be able to have multiple people be able to write on your brand, right? So we see a lot of companies just stop at the brand story. And we haven’t mentioned the brand’s story, which is also a piece of all of this structure. We can only cover so much. So you’re probably like where’s the brand story and all this while the brand story is part of the messaging strategy so it is in there, okay, but a lot of people stop there and they don’t actually transcend it into than the actual message points, right. So that really helps people to internalize this. So once you have these tools in place, then you need to educate the entire organization. Alright, so whether they technically right on guests your brand or not, they are almost always communicating about your brand. So remember, our employees are ambassadors to, so they’re out there evangelizing about your business about your brand, give them some message points in order to go do that, make sure that they’re consistent. Now, that doesn’t mean you’re going to script for everybody, but didn’t at least know the tone for which you want them to evangelize about your business. We’ve all seen it. Where are people in our employees go a little bit rogue when they’re talking about our business, we’re like, Ooh, I really wish that you hadn’t said it in that way. Well, that’s your responsibility to make sure that they have a structure and an infrastructure in order for which to talk about that. Now, the ones are actually doing the writing, this involves a little bit more of an in depth training, where they’re actually going through the exercises a lot of exercises on before after a lot of exercises on articulating and expressing the message tracks throughout your marketing channels. So that will really help them understand the nuances. Now again, this isn’t a black or white kind of thing, right? So you have to have some flexibility and, and some pretty wide guardrails, which are usually set up by like, Okay, again, to the tone of voice like, you can be haha, funny, but we can’t You can’t be crass. And here’s where that line is. Right? So it’s about line setting so that people really understand their their guidelines, but they’re able to operate freely within those guidelines, you can’t be so prescriptive, to say, Oh, well, you said, you know, this word, I really would have preferred this word, you know, it’s like, you got to give up on some of this stuff. And know that it’s not gonna be perfect from the start. And that is okay, we talked about the fact that you can use a more of a test and learn approach, especially in specific environments, just to kind of see how people react, people will tell you whether or not they are responding to it either by their engagement, either by direct feedback, by the way that they react to it, all those things will be signals about whether or not people are resonating with how you’re saying it. Yeah,

April Martini 32:16
absolutely. And I just made the point previously about having someone that’s going to review everything, this is where it is important. So if you’re not going to hire that person, you at least have to have someone for a period of time with their eyes on everything. It’s so so important as you’re training people, because the hardest part about this right is it is open to interpretation. So to Anne’s point, that it’s not black and white. The good thing is, is that when you get it right, and multiple people can write against your brand, you know that you’ve done the exercise of brand character to tone of voice to messaging strategy, right? Right. Because there is that flexibility and that ability for people to voice things in different ways. But I think in the short term, you have to make sure that you’re proactively setting those parameters without being too limiting. And that is where it honestly, it gets a little bit messy. But when you take the time to do the training, and work through that collaboratively together, then you have a set of people that now know what to go and do. And that then that’s easier to do with a group than a single person. So, you know, just making the point that consistency is going to take a while for sure. And when you’re in it, it can feel a little bit like Oh, geez, are we ever gonna hit it? But then the magic happens, and you do and then you have this group of people that can go and do for you?

Anne Candido 33:35
Yeah, and I think that’s, that’s right on. And also I’d say that, if it feels like it’s gonna be a big strain for your own business with your own employees to do this, hire an agency, who will be that accountability factor for you? Oh, absolutely. Right, they can help you make sure you refine this, they can make sure that you are consistent, they will call you on that. It may be like something that’s very irritating to you. As they’re always like, kind of tweaking it and doing that. But it does get better as it becomes a little bit more mainstream. It’s in your business to talk like that, to have that style to use those kinds of words. So don’t just say, Hey, I don’t have the people to go do it. Yeah, um, make sure that you are being responsible about the fact that it needs to be done and getting the right people to do it. Yeah.

April Martini 34:21
I mean, this is part of the way we operate with coach train do Right, right. So it’s like, we might do super heavy lifting, build all this for you build the first set of things. And then it’s a matter of teaching people how to do it, and then they can go and do the doing. Yeah, so yeah. All right. Number two in the trenches, do we revise all of our communications or how do we know which ones and we’ve talked about this a little bit already, but we would say do the ones that are still active. And by that, I mean, the ones that are still being used, so you definitely don’t go back and redo every marketing campaign, conference brochure, etc. This is why the auditing portion is so important because it’ll help you decide which Things to keep in which things to get rid of including the actual materials themselves. Yes. And then it should also create a list for you of the things that you do need to go and change. Key things, you have to change website social of the future. Again, don’t go back and change all the content that existed previously, brochures and materials that are still in circulation speeches that you have in the can that are given on a regular basis. Those are some of the examples. And you can also absolutely do things in stages. It might be a little bit disjointed for a while. But for example, if you printed 1,000 conference brochures for the year, or you just built a booth for a conference, do not throw that out and start over. Just think about how you can more creatively build in some things that are not huge investments to supplement what that experience is like currently, start with the ones that have the biggest, most immediate impact, and then prioritize in order of what you can easily do versus what’s going to take time. So back to the don’t start with your website, if that’s too daunting comment instead, if there’s a brochure that’s running out of printed pieces, and it’s a main piece you’re going to use to introduce yourself moving forward, then focus on doing that one right now and then get that out there and printed and then move on to the next thing that feels manageable to tackle at the time. Yeah,

Anne Candido 36:19
I said to that, like definitely physical things are hard to, to redo on a frequent basis, because that’s where the money and the time all starts to kind of get wrapped up in but you can always change your messaging, whether it’s to a client, whether it’s in a context of a meeting, you could start playing with that right away. So even if your booth is all built out your your brochures are all out there, okay, fine. Start in the way that you actually engage, yes, in the words that you’re using the style, you use really good point. I mean, that’s both from your appearance, like we talked about your personal brands, from your parents, your verbal and your physical appearance, all the way through your behaviors and actions. Those are things you can do now. And you can pick a few things to kind of just see how this messaging strategy that you’ve established from your tone of voice starts to show up and how people react to that, right. So think about that as a place to start initially, those are very easy things to start weaving in. But make sure it’s consistent to, you know, so that you can get it like a way of like, yeah, this works, or this doesn’t work. Now, initially, if something you do, and it has like a really negative responses, I’ve fixed that one right away, maybe tweaked that one right away. But sometimes it takes people a little while to kind of like sense it, feel it, believe it, engage in it. So if somebody doesn’t like work, right, in that moment, just trust it a little bit. Give it a little bit of time. I mean, don’t again, don’t have those knee jerk reactions that oh, this didn’t work right now in this moment. So I’m going to totally change it. Yeah, absolutely.

April Martini 37:50
All right. Number three, in the trenches, you mentioned hiring someone to take on this role, but that’s going to be a challenge for us. What can we do instead? So as we said, again, for a while would be best if one person was reviewing everything to build consistency. But if that feels overwhelming to you build a team of ambassadors that can then tackle the job together? Is it someone from each department is it someone from each discipline, have them meet regularly to make sure they’re all aligned, and then spend that time to get them training on the upfront so that everyone is experiencing it in the same way. But if you’re going to do that, then carve out a portion of those people’s jobs or a single person’s job today to make it part of their role, even if again, it’s just for a period of time and delegate their responsibilities or other responsibilities to other people. So they can focus here, I’ve seen people make the mistake of saying, Oh, you you’d be good at this, and then just adding it on to their plate. And what happens there is even the best of intention people, right, if they have their day job, and they’re working full time for you, and then you add this on, they’re not going to be able to do both, they have to have the time and space. Because as you’ve heard us say, this is something that once you get it right, it becomes muscle memory. But just like muscle memory for anything, you have to invest the time, and really focus and do it right from the very beginning. And already said you can hire outside resources to help in the short term, will you serve as this role for our clients sometimes, especially if resources are tight, it can be a great way to teach someone to do this job, and will often have someone from the client work alongside of us as we’re doing the work until they feel equipped to do the job on their own. Finally, it totally is okay to get creative with how to tackle this, but you absolutely have to do this portion. Otherwise, you did all that hard work on your character, your tone of voice, your messaging strategy, and it will just end up in a desk somewhere and you’ll constantly be cleaning up after what you’re trying to put out there. expect there will be some issues but Don’t set yourself up for failure from the beginning. Yeah,

Anne Candido 39:46
I know we’ve already talked about this one. So I’ll just say we’ve seen too many people spend the hard work in putting it in creating it and then basically pushing it off to the side because you don’t have somebody who is championing it, managing it, making sure that It’s follow through on. So absolutely. I think that last point you made is the clincher there.

April Martini 40:04
All right, number four, in the trenches give an example of a brand that does an amazing job with their messaging strategy. And I’m actually going to talk about a person associated with a game show of all things. I mean, I’m stepping way back, but my mom is a huge fan of Family Feud has always been, but loves it so much more. And to the point where they DVR it, because she loves her man, Steve Harvey. Oh, yes. And so there were previous hosts, and the show has been great. And it’s one of those ones that has stood the test of time, and I think just is absolutely hilarious. But I think when Steve Harvey entered the role, and this is a little bit of a personal brand thing, right? But they were able to take that show and basically put it on steroids because of the way that he comes to life as the host. And it was a little shift in tone of voice. It was yes, it was definitely a shift in the tone of voice and intentional shift. Yeah. So I mean, I would say that the reason a lot of game shows haven’t lasted is because they got a little bit sleepy, right? You’ve seen this on other ones, right? And I would say that it’s not as good but like on prices, right? You had Drew Carey, right? Instead of Bob Barker, right, when he aged out, they put him in there to have a little bit more personality. But I think back to the Family Feud example, Steve Harvey, like the things about him are, he is a guy that just loves to have fun, right. And he loves to laugh, and he loves to get people to laugh with him. And so and then he also has a little bit of reverence in the topics and the types of things that he communicates. So to the point of the shift in the tone of the show, it went a little dare I say, racy in the types of questions that were asked, and honestly, also, I will say that like, his teasing sometimes, to me, like I cringe a little bit, but the contestants on the show, just play right into it, sign up for it. I mean, yeah, they sign up for it, they want to be a part of that. And that Heckerling has actually really added a lot of interest and fun into the way things come to life. So if you think like, historically, right, I mean, it’s a game show, it’s supposed to be light hearted, it’s supposed to be entertaining, you know, but as the world changed, and as you know, talk shows in general also have changed and personalities have changed. I think that the reinvention of that tone of voice allowed it to lean into a space that still kept its relevance brought new life to the show. And it was all because of the fact that Steve Harvey has built his personal brand, with intention and very consistently. And so when that show signed up for him, they knew what they were getting. And they knew that the show would have to go to the place with him or it was just going to fall flat.

Anne Candido 42:47
Yeah, I think that’s a really fantastic example because actually just I don’t know his last week it was two weekends ago. We were sitting and we’re just watching all the memes so there’s like it’s taking you away right because no like it’s like the stamp the divorce stamps did they take all the ones where like somebody said something they probably shouldn’t have and you see the spouse back there looking at him and then they give the divorce not I mean it’s hopefully not you know, so I never wanting anybody to get divorced but some of them are so shocked worthy that you’re just like bawling really say that never would have happened in the Richard Dawson days never know I mean never you know so it is to your point like again when we’ve talked about all these examples of a way that even a person here can shift the tone of voice of a brand that has been around for ever but if you do like you said if you don’t go with them, it falls flat or it doesn’t it doesn’t reach the opportunity or the level that it could Yeah, and now it appeals to again a younger generation who’s sitting there watching I’m not I’m not the younger generation honestly but like even younger than me who sit there watch it and find it hysterical right you know and that is the intent of really being mindful of how your audit of you know that if it was somebody was doing an audit the game show they might said little sleepy little to functional or demographics aging out you know, all those sorts of things and then wanting to instill a little bit more life a little bit more tone of voice a little shift it up a little bit but then carrying the message in James strategy through Yes, the show so Right, totally, but the format of the show is like basically still the exact same, right? Yeah. And

April Martini 44:26
I will just my last thing here is like so that was like one of our big things during COVID As we would watch that with my mom and like everybody plays a long but unexpected humor like things that I cannot see coming like I just lose my mind. There were so many moments where I would find myself like doubled over laughing like up like yes that they said it but also that like that was the answer. I mean, oh my gosh. Yes. Yeah. So anyway, yes. New life for that show. So good on them.

Anne Candido 44:53
That was a good one. That was a good one. All right, so I’m going to use an oldie but a goodie because I did use this one when we’re talking about social strategy to so it kind of goes hand in hand so it gives them a tangible thing to go look at. And that’s Kim Crawford Wines love Kim Crawford. I love the tone of voice that they use it’s very much a kind of a fallen yet sophisticated like girl isms. I mean, it’s it definitely oriented. They’re so like, girlfriends, girly things to do all those sorts of things that kind of like you like, oh, yeah, that oh, yeah, that right. And it also though hits and I, clearly, that’s definitely one message bucket for them, it’s like, we are going to identify with our target by sharing content that is, through our communication style going to resonate with them, right. So that’s definitely one. There’s also a bucket of economical. So they definitely are very clear that they want you to know that their wine is not expensive. Yep. Right. It can be enjoyed on a day to day basis. It’s not a special time kind of wine. They want you to drink it, when you’re in the social situations just hanging out with girlfriends. I mean, they even had a social person said, But you think about us when you buy that $20 glass of wine, right? Ironically, Kim Crawford sometimes cost $20 If you gotta buy it in the store, but the whole bottle wine costs $20. Right?

April Martini 46:14
Yeah, but in restaurants, it might be $20 in glass sometimes. Yeah, exactly.

Anne Candido 46:18
Right. Yeah. Yeah. Now, there also has some uplifting parts of it too. Like they just they like to do like their posts on astrology. So they had an Aries posts, because we’re in the areas time, like, so. It was like you just reminding people of that element, but like, you know, continuing to try to lift people up. But it all in a context of being very unapologetic. Right. So there was one that was like, me five minutes into cleaning, right, which was Tuesday, and there was just a hand holding a glass of wine, right? So it’s very unapologetic, in the way that its tone of voice has been transpired into messaging. But it all works together. And it’s all very consistent. It’s consistent through the content is consistent through the styles consistent through the imagery. It’s all very consistent. Well,

April Martini 47:09
and I think a good thing about that brand, too, is they they do definitely focus on women, but they also don’t alienate men. Like this Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc is one that we buy for every day. Yep, system. And that’s because Bryce was the first one to like, really love that one. Right. And so I think that they, because they own who they are so unapologetically, you can opt in, even if you know, you’re not necessarily the target for the messaging. Yeah, that’d be my I think that’s right. All right. And our third and final segment is a real world example of a business or brand we’ve experienced recently that is using or not using their marketing smarts. And as a reminder, we call these now marketing smarts moments. Okay, so I’m going to take this one. And this is a positive example. And I will tell you, it was a very unexpectedly positive example. And actually, things went wrong in this one, too. And the pickup and cleanup was just amazing. So alright, so recently moved into the new house, I think I’ve said, why, maybe you talked about builders and whatever, but we’re in the new house. They’re out there. Yay, we made it. And so I like to assign the tasks that are just the bane of my existence to Bryce. And luckily, usually they’re things that he does not mind doing. So TVs is one of them. I just have so much PTSD of the other two condos that we have previously owned, and having to get TVs installed and picking out which ones and the sizes and all that craziness, right? Because I just never felt like there was a very easy way to do this. So rice tells me he’s going to buy the TVs at Best Buy. And he’s actually going to go to the store and check them out. And he’s doing his research and whatever. And I’m like, Okay, fine, that’s all you because I really don’t care what size it is I give the restriction of not too big.

And I definitely don’t care to have to manage the installation of that, right. So he goes to Best Buy. And he purchased the TV. And then we had one that we had brought from the previous condo that was a newer Smart TV. And he set up the installation with them. And I was like, Oh, let me guess they gave you some vendor that you have to call them whenever he was like, No, it’s the best buy Geek Squad. And I was like, what? And he’s like, yeah, they’ve built an or partnered or I don’t know how the manifestation I didn’t totally look into that for a while. I don’t know. Yeah. And we I mean, to be fair, we haven’t bought new TVs and yeah, seven years, right.

Anne Candido 49:31
So I initially was for computers. Oh, okay. Yeah, so supporting systems. So there

April Martini 49:36
we go. So this was like something that was just a total blind spot to me. I was like, Oh, I didn’t even know they had that. Right. And so he was like, no, they’re actually gonna, you know, they asked me what we had and what we had set up in the wall and we aligned on all the things we need and they come with this truck and even if I don’t get it totally right, they likely will have what we need in the truck to supplement as long as not not something major. I’m like, Okay, so, these guys roll up, and I will say that, at the risk of being offensive, I do not mean to be offensive, but they definitely live into a Geek Squad persona, right? I mean, these guys that showed up at my house, I was like, Geek Squad Geek Squad. Yep, check check right. Now, I will say that, you know, sometimes when you get these more technical types, if you will, they don’t have a lot of personality, I would say these two guys definitely had personality and one more than the other like, right? He’s chatting, he’s chatting with my kids. I’m like, guys get out of the basement. You don’t need to be in the middle of this, like, Oh, they’re fine. You know, and like, the stuff he’s coming up with. I’m like, Okay, a little different than conversation. I have been cool, you know, super helpful, super fast. I mean, I went upstairs for 20 minutes, took a call came back down. And they’re essentially done in the basement. And I was like, okay, and they had to actually install like, the brackets and all the things, right. So they were in an out of our house super quickly. They were amazing. They were super pleasant. They were engaging. I didn’t feel at all any unease. And the process beginning to end was super easy. I mean, the only complaint we have is that it took like 10 days to get them there. But then after that, it was you know, that was it. Right? Not very many things we had to manage on our end. So the TV’s up. And I walk in and Bryce goes, I think it’s too small. And I’m like, oh, for the love. I cannot believe like, this is where we’re landing right on the upstairs TV. So Mandy, my sister walks in 50 minutes late. And she goes, I think that’s too small. So here we go. Right. Like, okay, great. And I’m like to me, you know, it lines up nicely with the fireplace. Aesthetically, it looks great. But whatever you guys think so I’m watching the TV. Literally, the next night, Bryce is out of town, and one pixel in the screen goes back. So it creates a line horizontally and vertically across the TV. Like we’ve just lost the I don’t know, what is it pixelation coloration, like, it’s gone, right? So Bryce calls that night, and I’m like, I think you might get your wish here. Like, something’s wrong with this TV. Something went out, like I watched it happen. And now I turn it off and on whatever. Like, it’s definitely something broken in the actual screen. So he calls them from where he is. And he says this happened. You know, also, I’d like to look in, I was gonna call you anyway, I think we need the bigger TV. Can you help me out? Literally, the next day, they showed up at our house with the new TV took the old one covered the distance, the difference in the price for the inconvenience, hung the TV and we’re gone. Wow. I was floored. And we had two different guys this time. And I realized, like they definitely trained and I don’t mean it to like stick is the bad word. But it definitely like, since we had a different team, right? It’s lead guy support guy, they’re playing into the personality, one’s really chatty. And he’s talking, you know, he’s talking your ear off. And he’s, you know, wanting to have conversation while he’s going. And it’s kind of a little bit of a performance for the kids. And he sends the other guy out to the truck. And he’s the quieter one, you know. And so they’re definitely bringing this brand to life, across their tone across their character. They’re leaning into the whole Geek Squad thing. And I think it’s just I mean good on BestBuy, first of all, for, you know, filling a gap in the marketplace. And it sounds like they started with computers, my experiences on the TV side. But also like, this is an industry that to me, as you heard me saying the beginning was historically so broken that I just avoided it at all costs.

And this solution just left me super happy, super pleasantly surprised. I mean, they even said, like, you could fit a bigger one. And I’m looking at him like, you’ve got to be kidding me. He’s like, Well, you could I mean, you could compromise another five inches, whatever. But like, also really educational on, you know, it looks like the bracket is slightly off. So it doesn’t matter. But if you feel like the TV is tilting, you know, move it this way. I mean, just start to finish. Really great experience.

Anne Candido 53:49
I think that’s a great example. And I’ve had good experiences with these guys as well. I think what you just outlined was the important even, we didn’t even talk about this of how your tone of voice well, your brand character, your tone of voice and your messaging then defines what kind of people you want to hire. Yeah, yeah. Right. I mean, it’s probably no accident that they, you know, I might not say a good looking guy can’t you know, know about how to hit a TV and stuff like that, or like a non geeky guy don’t even manual. We’re being very stereotypical here. But we do that for the intent of making a point. Yeah, um, but you know, they call it the Geek Squad. I know. I mean, you kind of have to have that level. I mean, like expectation for what you’re gonna get, right? And so but the personality is coming through the ability to be that now that’s customer service, and that is a level of customer service that has an emotional impact. So that’s the kind of customer service we’re talking about guys. Like all of that together provides a really fantastic package. Yep. And representation of the brand. And so make sure as you’re putting these things together, use that as criteria for hiring people. I mean, I’m been reading while I’m listening to Richard Branson’s Finding My Virginity.

April Martini 55:00
That’s my next one. I just came from another book that we are both. Still reading. I

Anne Candido 55:04
didn’t I can’t find Losing My Virginity, I need to find that one. But I have finding my virginity. So I’m listening to that one. But he talks about the same thing about the Virgin way, making sure you hire people that are able to exemplify that. And he had some very quirky ways that he was trying to hire him. Like, it’s like, if you like, purple, if you have purple hair, and you’re bored in the middle of the day, then we’re looking for you, you know, it’s kind of like that mentality of thinking about the psychographic of who you’re looking for not just the demographic or the qualifications of what you’re looking for. Yeah. So that emotional impact comes through in your tone of voice can be conveyed in the appropriate way. Yeah. Right. So I think that was all important part of the package. And it strikes me that Best Buy is in the Geek Squad is probably very intentional in that. Absolutely. And so it was not just a happenstance thing that just these people just happen to come in. That was, you know, the experience that you had that one time

April Martini 55:54
well, and I think too, it gives a new level of swagger to these guys, right? Like they’re definitely embracing and taking pride in a job that I think was thankless at best and contentious. Worse, because everybody’s always unhappy right now it feels like they’ve been provided a place to give their skills and change the narrative on that a little bit. And you can tell that they just seem to really like their jobs. Whereas other people we’ve had come in and do this type of work in our home, it’s like, won’t want like that, you know, they’re just kind of like keep to myself, get the job done. Don’t say a lot, you know, whatever. So anyway, fantastic on them. Super happy. And we’ve agreed on the size and now the TV staying so that’s yeah, all worked out. all worked out. All right, so just to recap how to translate your brand’s tone of voice into messaging number one, audit your existing materials, starting with what you have sheds light on what to keep and what you need to get rid of. Number two, define the messaging pillars. This is the future framework for all communication. So make sure it’s all encompassing of what you need to say. Number three, utilize before and after side by side comparisons are great tools for keeping things on track and teaching others how to communicate against your brand. And finally, number four, stay active and engaged. This is not a set it and forget it. You have to always have an eye on how you are communicating and whether it’s effective. And with that we will say go and exercise your Marketing Smarts! Still need help in growing your Marketing Smarts? Contact us through our website: We can help you become a savvier marketer through coaching or training you and your team or doing the work on your behalf. Please also help us grow the podcast by rating and reviewing on your player of choice and sharing with at least one person. Now, go show off your Marketing Smarts!