As a marketing and communications professional, I have always considered wordsmithing to be an essential part of my writing process. I could refer to it as “editing” but, to me, the term wordsmithing speaks to a more creative frame of reference. It also happens before a particular piece is ready to be seen and edited by someone else.
It can take quite a while for a piece of text to feel right. I’ve been criticized for “wasting time” and being a perfectionist on several occasions. [Not that I’m not a perfectionist but overflowing inboxes and multiple priorities taught me the value of GEMO1 several years ago. It was either that or pull my hair out…I like my hair! 😉 ] Of course, these are some of the same people that I’ve had to explain the value of branding to multiple times. But, I digress…they usually come around once they can compare the drafts with the final product. (‘Oh! I get it now.’)
How an organisation tells a story is one of the key elements of branding, it’s their tone of voice. It also tends to be the most difficult brand element to nail down.
Every great brand has a tone of voice aligned with their other brand elements, including their unique brand story and brand personality. It needs to be a style that clicks with their audience. Trial and error—wordsmithing—is not optional unless you already have intimate knowledge and ample experience writing copy for a brand.
Good or not-so-good, we all develop our own writing style over time. We each have our own quirks when communicating with the outside world. To create on-brand communications I need to step out and away from myself, get into the right mindset. I do that by asking myself, ‘If this brand was a person, what would they say and how would they say it? Are they young or old? Silly or serious? Practical or free-spirited? Shy or boisterous? Witty or dry? Absent-minded professor or opinionated politico?’ And so on and so forth.
The sun is bright and welcoming. You’re spending a hot summer day at the beach relaxing with friends. (‘Oh, how I yearn for the good ol’ days before Covid-19!’) Just when the heat threatens to drive you into the shady area, an ice cream truck rolls up blasting a jaunty tune. Your first thought is, ‘Perfect! That’s exactly what I need to cool down!’ You step up to the window accompanied by a friend to peruse the vast selection laid out in front of you. Aha! The chocolate fudge is calling your name, ‘Chocolate fudge ice cream it is!’ Your friend is drawn to the gooey and decadent salted caramel.
OK, I know you’re all thinking,
‘What the heck does ice cream have to do with branding and tone of voice?!’
I’m getting to that part. Honest!
In this scenario, you and your friend choose two very different flavours of ice cream. However, you both end up a little cooler and happy with your purchase. Your attention was captured by chocolate fudge. If my target audience thinks and behaves like you, my story needs to be ‘flavoured’ by chocolate fudge. If my target audience thinks and behaves like your friend, my story needs to be ‘flavoured’ by salted caramel.
|Different audience||You||Your Friend|
|Same story||Ice Cream is cold delicious goodness!||Ice Cream is cold delicious goodness!|
|Different tone of voice||The call of Chocolate Fudge||The call of Salted Caramel|
|Same result||Ice cream is the perfect snack on a hot day.|
‘Let’s do that again soon!’
|Ice cream is the perfect snack on a hot day.|
‘Let’s do that again soon!’
We are inundated with information every day. If something doesn’t ‘call out’ to us, we aren’t willing (or able) to pay attention. And so, that’s my justification for taking the time for wordsmithing. That’s why the words matter!
Are you a fellow wordsmith? Is there something that you are criticized or teased about that you consider a crucial part of your process? How do you respond? Please share in the comments!
Needless to say, I am now craving ice cream even though it’s –9 °C (–17 °C with the wind chill) outside.
A warm beach to go with the ice cream wouldn’t hurt either.
1GEMO = Good Enough Move On
© 2021-2022 Tracey Copeland, Rolling Sands Consulting.