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EPISODE 4 – Bethany Joy

Lost Your Voice? Insights From Brand Voice Strategist Bethany Joy

Most organisations would never dream of allowing the imagery used on their website or brochures to be left to chance. 

However, when it comes to the language used in written and verbal communication, only around a third of UK businesses have invested time and effort into their tone of voice. 

And yet, the words you use make a huge impact on how you’re perceived, so investing in your brand voice could give you a significant advantage over the majority of companies who are lost in a sea of sameness.

In this episode of the Marketing Freed podcast, brand voice strategist; Bethany Joy shares her insights on working with companies to uncover their brand voice and embed it throughout their organisation.  

In this episode, we discuss:

  • Why having a brand voice isn’t optional
  • How to uncover what your brand voice is
  • Ways to embed your brand voice throughout your comms
  • Why a brand voice isn’t about being quirky, it’s about being authentic.
  • When it’s appropriate to be aspirational in your brand voice without being misleading
  • The importance of context
  • Why a brand voice should be like a window

CONNECT

RESOURCES

Throughout the episode, we refer to two papers Bethany has written. As you might expect, they’re full of intelligent, witty insights about brand voice. They’re beautifully designed too. Download them here:

BOOK RECOMMENDATION

I’ve not read this book as it’s not been published yet,  so this is what’s summarised in the author’s blog post about it. 

The phrase “The road to hell is paved with good intentions” is particularly relevant to the modern preoccupation with purpose-driven business models.

The author challenges the conventional wisdom of starting with ‘why,’ as popularized by Simon Sinek, arguing instead that creativity—and by extension, the critique of purpose—should conclude with understanding the ‘why,’ hinting at a fundamentally anti-creative mindset imposed by purpose-driven ideologies.

Find out more about the book here.

 

 

Episode Transcript
Episode transcript

  📍 This week on Marketing Freed, I’m joined by brand voice strategist, Bethany Joy. Bethany, great to see you again. Welcome to the podcast. Thanks for having me. great to have you along. look for everyone who’s not familiar, with you, could you just give a bit of an introduction to, who you are, your role, and also why you’ve chosen the title brand voice strategist?

the short answer to that one is just that consultant’s a bit wanky. but there was a bit more behind it than that. yeah, so bigger picture me. So my background is in broader, comms and marketing roles. but I particularly got into that because I always really loved writing.

right from, my degree was English Lit and Philosophy, so all kind of language thinking, analysing, I loved that kind of stuff. and I think I’ve just come full circle with things that I started off in some in house comms and marketing roles, and I did a lot of writing as part of that, but I worked my way up, until I was in London as the, comms director for a non profit.

and there were lots of brilliant things about that, but I realized once I got to that level that it’s broadly just about meetings and delegating work to other people, and managing a team workload rather than actually getting to do a lot of the nitty gritty writing language stuff that I really loved.

and so I went sideways from there and did half and half, worked a bit for myself freelancing and also was working with a, an agency, a creative agency. and that’s where the kind of brand voice and copywriting stuff started. but I quickly moved the copy stuff. I loved it.

I loved the writing. But I just found that when I was working with businesses, I was trying to get a brief and trying to understand what they wanted. One of my main questions would always be, okay, we’ve nailed what you want to talk about. But how do you want me? to write it. What kind of style, what kind of organizational voice have you got?

and invariably they didn’t really know, or worse, they thought they knew, but the answer was just, professional, but friendly. Which doesn’t really tell you very much. and so I gradually moved out of, just copy into, trying to help organizations get to grips with that slightly more strategic piece.

and so I think that is why I have particularly gone for this, brand voice strategist kind of title, because when I was working mainly just on the copy side of things, obviously I was working primarily with usually the marketing team or the comms team and you are working at a, I don’t want to say lower level, I don’t mean that in a hierarchical sense, but you are working at that kind of ground level pieces of copy.

It’s mostly the marketing team you’re engaging with. whereas when you’re thinking about the bigger picture of your brand voice, it’s actually, although it involves a lot of copy and writing. It’s actually a much bigger kind of organization wide piece that’s more to do with identity. and so I wanted to position it, help position the work on that more strategic level so that people don’t just see it as a kind of, oh, it’s like copywriting plus.

It’s actually quite a different piece.

And, can you describe the sorts of clients that you do work with? Yeah, a big mix actually. I think again, there’s a bit of a misconception that Brand Boys stuff is, huge fun brands. People have got innocent, oatly, what’s in people’s minds. but actually most of the organizations that I work with are very down to earth and working in more traditionally I don’t want to say boring, but usually that’s the word they use about themselves.

And they’re like, this is just a really boring sector. We need a bit of help to make it more engaging. But, yeah, so a mix of in the last couple of years I’ve worked with a law firm, a music venue and an orchestra, a coffee company. An ethical underwear brand, a big financial investment platform, a concrete manufacturer, a software company, real range B2B, B2C, service based, product based.

Normally working with medium to larger companies, normally 40, 50 employees is the smallest, and then up to five or six hundred employees, so teams of people rather than solo businesses. But yeah, big range, really interesting. It’s really interesting that you mentioned such a range, because it is then obvious how applicable brand voice is across industries, across products, across, market sectors.

Yeah, definitely. there’s some interesting, stats actually in a study, done a couple of years ago now, but still probably true, I think of the, Only about a third of businesses in the UK have done any kind of thinking at all about their brand voice and actually the most likely candidates to have done the work are in the kind of finance telecoms Law software the sort of drier ones actually all the kind of FMCG leisure Entertainment the ones that you think actually they often haven’t done as much thinking, it’s more likely to be the less obvious candidates.

I guess it makes sense as well, because if, you are essentially a utility, like an electricity company or a telecoms company, you’re just selling electrons down a pipe somewhere, aren’t you? And so you’ve got to have some point of differentiation. There’s got to be some reason why someone chooses you.

And often it’s about the relatability. And obviously brand voice will have a huge part to play in that. could you just talk a bit more about what we mean or what you mean when you’re talking about brand voice? Yeah, it’s it’s classic marketing isn’t it? what, why call a spade when you could have a fancy term or an acronym for it?

and it’s, it comes under lots of guises. It’s got brand voice, tone of voice, verbal identity, brand language. In some ways actually I think verbal identity might be In some ways the more helpful phrase because I think it helps people see that it’s that sort of counterpoint to we all naturally instinctively understand that an organization has a visual identity obviously a logo or mark of some kind is normally the most obvious manifestation of that but you’ve also got colors and typography and photography and just Everything about how a brand looks, wrapped up in a visual identity.

But it’s taken people, I think, a bit longer to realise that there’s that other side of the coin, which is the verbal identity, and so how that sense of who an organisation is plays out in how they sound. And obviously, written communication is a really big part of that. But it will also come out in spoken stuff, and if the organization does a podcast, or does videos, or when the CEO speaks, or even when if it’s a physical bricks and mortar business, where you come in and meet people into the office, into the shop, and engage, it comes out in all those ways.

So yeah, essentially it’s just talking about how your brand and how your, how the way you communicate with people gives them a picture of what you’re like as an organization. That’s it really. And, throughout this episode, I’m going to be referring back to a couple of papers that you’ve made available on your website and I would encourage everybody to go and download them there.

the nine immutable laws of brand voice, and then separately the five numbers that will clinch your case for brand voice. First of all, I mean you already touched on a lot of brands already take the sort of visual element of their branding very seriously And they’ll always have a mark and probably a style guide that to accompany it I have to say your papers are designed beautifully it’s really simple really elegant and makes it really easy to consume the information there and Unsurprisingly given your role and specialism They’re written beautifully well, and they’re just packed full of useful information.

One of the points that you make is that only about a third of UK businesses have actually invested time and money in their tone of voice. To me that seems really low, just curious as to why you think that is. I think it stems from, what sounds like a slightly different issue but I think is linked.

Which is just that every, everybody communicates. Everybody talks, everybody writes, especially, in our kind of white collar, most of those jobs, emailing, speaking to people, that, or even, customer service, any kind of job, pretty much all humans, we speak and we write, we all communicate, I think the idea that it might be a specialist skill, or doing it well is a specialist skill, I think it’s just a bit harder to do it.

It doesn’t, it’s not so obvious. It’s not so natural for people to grasp that. Whereas I think with the visual identity stuff, don’t get me wrong. I know there are plenty of designers who’ve got horror stories of clients who love to design their own logos in Word. and there’s obviously there are plenty of people who will have a go without being particularly skilled in design.

But generally now, I guess there’s an understanding that to create a great logo, to make a video, to make a podcast, you have to have certain tools, you have to have certain skills. it’s not immediately available and accessible for everybody to do. It takes a bit of work, whereas anybody can type a sentence, anybody can speak.

so I know all the letters in the alphabet. exactly. Congratulations, you are qualified. but yeah, so I think it stems from that That then the realization that your language is something that you might want to be really thoughtful and really considerate about and that you actually do have quite a lot of control over that and can have a huge impact and talking to people in this way versus talking to them in that way can be hugely different and have a totally different result.

I think it just It’s not as natural for people to realise that, and to come to that conclusion, so therefore putting money and time, which it does take, and I think I’m always very clear with that about people, anytime I give any kind of brand voice advice, has anything to do with the whole identity of your organisation.

It’s not a kind of, oh, if you just spend half an hour this afternoon having a quick think about how to tidy up that blog post, it is a bigger, more significant piece of work than that, and so I think, yeah, it just, it’s almost like it doesn’t, Occur to people as often and yes, you’re absolutely right.

It needs to be a significant thoughtful piece of work But even more than that, it’s not just done once it’s got to be an ongoing process as well It’s got to be baked into the organization through throughout every element of it in the five numbers that will clinch your case for brand voice you quite a really nice stat that, there’s organizations who’ve managed to get a consistent brand that’s understood and embraced by the whole organization are able to achieve twice as much brand visibility and 23 percent more revenue versus companies where it’s inconsistent.

be interesting to understand, for your take on how organizations can bake that Brand voice that consistency throughout the organization, but at the same time being mindful of not becoming a bottleneck as a marketing department. Yeah, definitely. oh, and it’s interesting because, I, feel like in a lot of the discussions that I have, whether it’s with clients about work or often with other, maybe with copywriters who sometimes dabble in a little bit of tone of voice stuff, whatever, I think the kind of embedding piece is actually the piece that’s least recognized and least talked about.

I think everyone has some sense, or everyone who’s aware of brand voice, the thing they go to is There’s a guide, right? We’re gonna, we’re gonna come up with a voice and then we’re gonna write a brand voice guide. We’re gonna have some guidelines just like we do for the, don’t stretch the logo, here are your colors, here are your typefaces.

We’ll have the equivalent for our verb and identity and that’ll just nail it, won’t it? that’ll sort it out. but I, I’ve said to clients before that a brand voice guide without any kind of training or further embedding is It’s similar to an erection in a convent, no one really quite knows what to do with it.

and I think there is this hopefully growing kind of realisation that obviously a guide or a toolkit of some kind is a helpful thing to have and I always, work on that with my clients, but at the end of the day it’s just a bit of paper, it’s just words on a screen. It’s often quite theoretical and it’s usually more helpful for particularly really skilled writers or if you’re hiring in an external copywriter or agency and you want them to work to your tone of voice.

there’s actually just, there’s so much more that goes into making sure it’s a part of the everyday experience of a company and in some ways I’m going to be a bit annoying and say it’s not like there’s ten things you can do it’s really bespoke to the organisation because it’s about saying looking at the existing people and processes and saying, okay, if this is where we are now, and this is how we know we need to sound, what are the processes, what are the challenges, what are the people that might get in the way of that?

And how do we resolve that? How do we take out those blockers? some companies actually naturally have loads of people who are really enthusiastic and they’re maybe naturally quite good writers. And so what they would need would be slightly different. from, for example, when I worked with the, an IT software company, where most of them were really like, what the hell has brown voice got to do with us?

And they, weren’t natural writers or communicators at all. And so what they needed was something different. But I think, broadly, the big pieces are, I hate the word training. This is a limitation of the English language. I think it’s a bit of a, no one goes, ooh, training. but running regular interactive sessions designed to introduce people to the voice, and immerse them in it, get them excited about it.

Finding lots of ways to relate what you’re doing with the voice back to what’s going on in people’s everyday jobs. So they’re clear why it’s relevant, why it’s important, and they feel empowered and confident to use it. loads and loads of examples so that it’s not just theoretical. People are actually seeing, Oh, I, I hear that.

I get that difference. And just loads of other, how you bake it into people’s reviews, even, to new starter training, so that they’re introduced to it as soon as they come on board. How you find ways to notice and praise language, so that reinforces it for people. there’s just, there’s a million things, and it’s going to be slightly different for every organisation.

But I, I would say that is almost the biggest piece of the work. Actually developing the voice is, that’s, that’s important, that’s a serious chunk. But actually the real work, lies and the real value in a way lies in embedding it. You could develop the best voice in the world, but if no one in your organization uses it, it’s not going to be any good to you, I think what you’ve just described as well, it also relates very closely to one of the points that stood out to me in your paper, Nine Immutable Laws of Brand Voice. and that point is that it’s got to be rooted in reality. So there’s no amount of training that someone could have that’s going to suddenly make them start speaking.

Or writing in a particular way if actually that tone of voice or that style is condemned in the organization as being a terrible thing and that’s not how you should behave. You should be more professional rather than easygoing. it definitely spoke to me because I have worked, it was for a software company and there was, I would say, quite a significant amount of pressure from, various people throughout the business to make our tone of voice.

Fun and upbeat and informal because that was the sort of brand resonated with them and they’d seen you mentioned innocent smoothies being all kind of quirky and kooky. And it was it was fun. But the truth is that wasn’t the business by any stretch of the imagination. it was a bit of a tired company.

The software was a little bit. So clunky and the user interface was tired. the implementation process wasn’t overnight It was a best case probably six months but it might run on for multiple years and the reason that customers chose to work with that company was because of the I suppose the make maybe slightly dry but professional approach that they took as opposed to some younger upstarts That definitely were they lived and breathed that hey, we’re cool and funky We’re gonna call you mate and all of that stuff That wasn’t us at all.

And I think relatively successfully managed to hold that off. But I think a lot of companies and a lot of people do struggle with that. I suppose the question for you is actually when you’re going about defining the brand voice is how do you actually go about finding that reality? Yeah, and it, and that’s a helpful phrase, I think, that it is about, it’s about discovering something, mining to find, some key pieces of an identity or personality that are the right ones to bring to the surface, rather than pasting something over the top, but again, I find it really interesting, I think it’s a problem that marketing has as a whole, that we often are seen as a sort of manipulators that there’s something sneaky going on in marketing or just trying to find ways to get people to part with their money and we’ve got no scruples and you know it’s that we have a bad rep generally but I think people do sometimes think that there’s an element of dishonesty almost that you’re yeah taking maybe a not very good or not very effective not very cool organization and pasting something fun and quirky over the top in order to draw people in when it I mean that’s It’s so far from being the either the truth or the right approach for so many reasons and the irony is, sorry, I don’t wanna get too far off the point But I think this is helpful, the irony is that in most of the businesses that I have worked with Their current situation, their current voice isn’t serving them very well He’s actually the one that’s dishonest, not intentionally, but it’s actually giving a really wrong impression of what they’re like.

I worked quite early on, actually, with a really great, hospice, who were just lovely, warm, vibrant, brilliant people, you walk in the door, and honestly, it was amazing, it felt so full of life, there was actually a lot of humour, they were an incredible place, but if you read their website It sounded like it had been written by a 1950s school matron, with a stern face.

it was very cold, and not at all welcoming, and just not representative of who they actually were. And in that case, their words were providing a kind of wall, actually, for stopping people seeing the brilliant reality of what they were like. And a lot of businesses are like that, that they don’t realise that the language they’re using is actually obscuring.

The truth about who they are, and my job is to knock that down, and to help them find the best bits of who they are and what really makes them, and then find a way to use language to bring that to the surface. so that was quite long winded, I don’t know if that’s really answered the question. No, that’s really helpful, and it’s prompted me to think of, a follow up question to that.

Is actually, how do you go about finding that reality? Are there any methods that you use? Sorry, that was actually what you asked me. I got distracted. yeah, again, it’s really tricky, isn’t it? It depends. I think I’m one of those people who’s quite suspicious of when people have like my five step process to what it like, obviously there is, there are principles that I use with every client, but it looks so different depending on the business depends what they do, how big they are, what industry they’re in, what work they’ve already done, how secure their identity is already, are they in the middle of a bigger rebrand, there’s so much going on, but broadly, it’s a lot of discussion.

I, I actually spend a huge amount of time normally at the beginning of every project talking to as many people across the organisation as I can, from every department, trying to talk to, so actually I’m thinking about a big music venue client that I had recently. talking to all of their staff, but talking to the security guys on the door, talking to the girls in the cafe, talking to people in the box office, trying to get a real sense across the whole organization of what’s it like to work here, what’s the best bits, how, finding out how they interact with people, what, when you chat with customers or people coming in the building, what do they like, what do they not like, and just really trying to get a sense of the organization.

And then usually a workshop or two. where would us marketers be without our workshops? I try not to use too many post its, just to really avoid the cliche. But, yeah, workshops and discussion then around saying, okay, this is what I’m hearing. And then this is what I’m seeing for the various documents that an organization usually has around identity and vision, mission and values and all that kind of stuff.

And then just working with them to try and draw out of that a sense of the organisational personality. Because that’s another really key thing, that often organisations will hand you, here’s our values document, and think that maybe that’s enough. But actually most organizations, most good organizations, have quite similar values.

Things like integrity, people first, being honest, being passionate about what you do, thinking quality is important, all that stuff. And that’s great. I don’t want to, sometimes people rubbish those a little bit. obviously those are all important values, but Loads of businesses hold those values and you could hold those values in a very different way and that would look very different depending on what the personality of the organization is.

And so that’s the bit that you’re trying to get to of, again it’s a bit hackneyed really. I tend to avoid the sort of, if your brand was a person what would they be like? But, because I think that can be a bit simplistic. but it is trying to get that sense of when people interact with you, what, who does it feel like they’re interacting with rather than Yeah, just, we’ve got integrity and we care about quality.

Yeah, you use a great example, actually, in the nine immutable laws paper of the difference between values and voice, I think is how it’s phrased is that, who is it? John Lewis, the CIA and your car mechanic, they’re all dependable, but they will use very, different language to talk to their potential customers or talk amongst themselves, whatever it is, I guess your point about just speaking to as many different stakeholders as you can in the business.

And that really doesn’t matter what the role is. But it’s trying to really live and breathe the language that they instinctively use in a sort of informal setting. And if you can, crack that, then you’re not really having to try, you shouldn’t have to try too hard to try and shift anything because it’s just how they are normally.

Yeah, I mean I think there’s a little bit, I think you have to be a little bit careful of Not trying to speak like your customers necessarily. I think there’s a bit of nuance of, I think it is important to do some exercises looking at how, do your customers talk about the thing that you sell?

and making sure that you’re using language that actually connects with where they’re at. And, lots of businesses are really guilty of the we sell high powered such and such solutions. And actually that’s the client. No one uses that kind of language. I was thinking of it in that way. and even small things like I worked with a client once, who they, did at home sight tests, and it was that thinking about their audience as an older audience and whether they should use the word glasses or spectacles and actually trying to figure out who, there’s lots of, some of it’s really tiny, some of it’s bigger picture, but it’s definitely important to think about how your audience talks about your brand, but you don’t want to.

lose yourself in that. It is primarily about thinking about your identity and who you are as an organization and making sure your sound reflects that. But that’s where, why this is a strategic piece, that it sits alongside bigger questions in your organization around positioning and who your audience is and, your messaging and that kind of stuff.

Because hopefully there’s a reasonable fit there anyway, that actually if you suddenly were going to start talking to people in a way that was really at odds with what they were like and how they wanted to engage and talk, then the chances are that you’re not the right fit for them as an organization anyway.

Because if how you’re talking is supposed to be a natural extension of and an articulation of what you’re like as a company, if the fit’s not there, then that’s, there’s bigger issues. There’s issues with your positioning or with your understanding of who your target audience is, that kind of stuff. so how would you go about, a approaching a scenario where there, there is an organization and they are, they have an existing brand voice, whether they like it or not.

they’ve got one and it may, be reflective of their current reality, but that’s not the reality that they want to have in three years time, five years time, even a year’s time. how do you approach that so you’re not stretching the truth too far? So it becomes a total fiction, but you’re also trying to drive the organization forward to where it needs to be.

Yeah, I mean there definitely is room for a voice to play a part in a time of growth and change and helping propel an organization forward. And actually, I do think that your voice can be an incredibly powerful tool for bringing about that kind of change internally as well as externally.

because again, side note, there’s a bit of a perception that when you work on your voice, the main reason you’re doing that is, excuse me, for external purposes, thinking about customers, but actually Lots of the clients that I’ve had, the impact that it has internally in terms of aligning people around, a vision and giving people a sense of Oh, yes, this is what we’re like.

And now I can actually feel free to communicate in that way. That’s great. It is really powerful. And so both internally and externally, using a voice as part of the process of kind of maybe repositioning and slightly moving an organization forward is great, but I think it’s that it has to be part of the process, the organ, the organisation actually has to be changing and moving.

It can’t be, like your example from before, that an organisation just goes, Do you know what, we’re a bit old and boring and rubbish, but we really need to attract some of those, Gen Z people. Let’s just tack a funky voice, or even the fact that I’ve used funky, it’s just marked me as horribly middle aged.

let’s use a really cool voice and try and draw them in. Obviously that isn’t going to work because there’s a disconnect and people are going to sense that lack of authenticity as soon as they get close to the organisation, so it’s ultimately going to do more damage. Whereas if an organisation is saying, we recognise that we’re like this now, but we would actually really like to attract more of these types of people or move ourselves slightly more into that position, and so here are the ways in which we’re going to do that.

Practically as a business, changing our offering or changing our prices or whatever the thing is, and then we want our voice to obviously help us along that journey. Then it’s fine, I think, because you’re talking about developing a voice that is partly, optimistic where we’re going to be, but it’s still moving in line with the business rather than trying to fix a problem that the business itself isn’t actually willing to solve.

Great. in your experience of working with. Brands on their brand voice. Are there things that stick out to you as it’s just almost everyone gets this wrong

That’s a good question, actually I mean at the risk of being repetitive. I think there’s something you just touched on in your last Question the thing about Brands already having a voice whether they like it or not when they realize it or not is quite a key thing I do still get quite A lot of people, even just the language that they use, it’s talking about giving us a voice, we need your help to, get a brand voice.

and like it’s that kind of, again, that repositioning of it of saying, no, you, you do already have one. if you’re using words. to share about what your business does, whether spoken or written, then you do have a voice, because your voice is, just, as we talked about at the beginning, is, just the picture that your language is giving people of what you’re like, and as we saw with that example with the hospice, it could be giving them a horribly inaccurate picture, but it is there, you do have a voice, it might be quite confused, it might be inaccurate, it might not be serving you well, but you can’t opt out of having a voice unless you opt out of ever using language altogether.

And so I think for some people there’s usually the reframing is getting them back to that starting point of it’s not some new interesting marketing thing that we’re bringing in. It’s something you already have and we need to look at it and say, okay, let’s first analyze the way that you’re speaking now.

How is that? Is that reflective of who you are? How well is that engaging people? There’s a bit of a sort of audit piece first, actually, to get the lay of the land before you go any further. And that, interestingly, is one of the things, you mentioned in the paper about five, five numbers to showcase for brand voice work.

And the reason that I include it in there is because I think it is a really helpful thing if you’re, a marketer, or someone in branding and you’re trying to get your organisation on board with putting time and money towards, doing some work on this. I think that is a really key bit of positioning because you’re not asking for budget and time to work on a new thing or to get a new thing for the business.

You’re asking for money and time to make sure that a thing the business already has and can’t avoid having, isn’t shit. You don’t have to work on your voice, but if you don’t, you are taking the risk that it’s not serving you, because you can’t not have one.

So it’s not that normal consultant thing of my thing is the most important. You have to work on it. This is the key to all marketing. It’s not that. It’s just an inescapable thing. You don’t have to do the work. But you do have a voice and so you have to know that if you don’t do the work you are taking a risk that your voice isn’t serving you well because there is no way to not have one.

Yeah and it is worth putting that investment in because like you say you are going to have one anyway so be intentional about it. there’s a bit of prep before this this recording. I had a quick look through some of your recent LinkedIn posts and you gave a really great example it was a poll that you ran about some copy used by the life insurance company Dead Happy.

Now, I’m going to confess, I got this wrong, which is a tricky one. Yeah. but just to provide a bit of context for everyone, what you had done, and I’ll include a link to this in the show notes if anyone wants to go and see the post for yourself, but, you. You provided a paragraph of copy that, presumably Dead Happy are using in some of their campaigns or the website.

And all you’ve done is change, I think it was just one word in that paragraph of text. And it really does change the tone and how you perceive that brand. There’s one example, there’s three different paragraphs or three different words that you’ve used. One. Definitely makes it feel really clunkier. It certainly did with me and I just, it was almost when you read it, you wince a bit and go, Whoa, that’s horrible.

Don’t like that. And the bit I fell foul of, was I was, I gravitated towards the style that was more conversational, but it wasn’t the right one because the context was wrong. And I think that’s an important part. And that’s, I think that’s a lot of the time where people fail to be deliberate in their thinking about their brand voice.

And actually, it’s really interesting. I started doing the polls a while ago. It just almost is a bit of fun, but they’ve turned out to be my most consistently popular, most engaged with content and I think it’s because it just makes it really tangible for people and it shows that literally when all you do is change one word that actually it can have a real impact on the paragraph around it and it can totally change your perception of the organization when you read it and I think people don’t always get that.

And then when it’s in front of you, you’re like, oh, yeah, I would think very differently of an organization that said that versus one that said that. And when you, and that’s just one word, so when you multiply that by the hundreds of thousands of millions of words that your organization uses to talk about itself, words have a massive ability to shape people’s perception of you.

Yeah, absolutely. I love that. Thank you very much. I’m going to start wrapping up, but before I let you go, I’m asking everybody for one marketing book recommendation that you think every marketeer should read. Oh, I’m not going to lie. You told me about this when we prepped and I totally thought, I’m now, scanning my bookshelf.

What are my great books that I’ve read that I. And I, oh, I’m going to be rubbish and I can’t pick just one. I’ve read lots of good ones over the years. I will say, now this is not very helpful because it’s not out yet, but I know it’s coming out soon and I’m really excited to read it, is, Nick Asbury, he’s writing a book around brand purpose and basically the fact that it’s mostly sort of bollocks and not It’s very helpful.

Or at least that it’s run amok. It’s got out of hand. and I love his stuff, love his blogs, love his, writing and I’m really excited about the book. he’s not paying me. I’m not on commission. I just, an email popped into my inbox just yesterday about it. And I thought, I bet that’s going to be really fucking good.

maybe that’s one to keep an eye out for. Because I think that’s just a helpful, I don’t know, I do feel a little bit like marketing has slightly lost it’s way a little bit sometimes. That we’ve just got a bit insular and a bit obsessed with ourselves and thinking that brands need to be more to people than people actually care for them to be.

At the end of the day it’s just a brand, it’s not a family member. and so I think, yeah, I, it’s not out yet and I can’t, I think it’s called The Road to Hell, I think. but Nick Asbury, just generally read his stuff, it’s really good. I’ll go check it out. Thank you. And just to build on that point about, marketing, getting a little bit inside an echo chamber and feeling like it all needs to be bigger and better and build like a sort of lifelong relationship that’s really heartfelt with your potential customers.

another LinkedIn post that you made recently that stood out was, your example about, Innocent and Oatly. They’re the exception, right? that’s not what brands should aspire to achieving. yeah, and it’s not to rubbish those. I actually do think that there’s a reason that Innocent get quoted in pretty much every brand workshop you’ll ever hear.

I think they are really good at what they do. they’re the OG for a reason. and Oatly, likewise, they do some really great stuff. other big brands that get a lot of mentions, Nike, Tony’s, Chocolonely, Lavie, that kind of stuff. But I think it’s I think it’s just that they really are the exception, that’s not something that brands should be aiming for.

Most of the companies that I work with are never going to achieve that kind of worldwide level of fame. And even in that smaller sort of, just getting plastered all over LinkedIn as really cool examples of writing. It’s just the wrong thing to aim for, because actually most voices, to be really effective, are Sometimes it takes a kind of quirky, fun bit of humour, but actually other times what it takes is To be really serious and thoughtful and build trust and demonstrate authority and intelligence or to be kind and warm but in a very quiet, low key kind of way.

It totally depends what the business is, who you’re talking to, what you’re trying to achieve, what you’re like, there’s so many factors and Yeah, that kind of big, bold, talked about brand voice. It’s not just the exception in the sense of very few brands can achieve it. It’s actually that very few brands need to achieve it.

That’s not the point of a voice. I think I said in the post, and we’ve talked about this today, the point of a brand voice is that your words are supposed to be offering people a window into your organisation for them to be able to see what you’re like and build that connection. And ultimately, windows aren’t for looking at.

They’re for looking through, so that kind of notoriety, it just is not necessary for everybody. Perfect. And what a way to end. Thank you very much. before I let you go, just a quick word on how people can connect with you after this show. yeah, I, so LinkedIn is probably best. That’s the only platform I’ve got any time to put any stuff on.

I suppose a fair warning, you will get some brown voice stuff, including the interesting polls, but you’ll also get probably quite a few rants about my children. just LinkedIn is like my. It’s just dumping ground for anything that’s annoyed me, or amused me. I’ve not tried this by the way, but can you swear on LinkedIn?

I do, a lot, and actually, I’ve yet to be banned, and I’m actually feeling quite upset about that. I feel like it’s a sort of badge of honour. You’ve got to push it a bit harder, that’s fine. I’ve done posts recently about unicorn butt plugs. I’ve sworn, I’ve talked about Viagra, vaginas, erections in a convent, it’s all one out there and I have not yet been banned so I actually think I’m going to need to step it up on it.

So you know, join me, come follow me on LinkedIn and watch the stepping up, the gradual stepping up. I don’t know where you go after unicorn butt plugs. That’s gotta be the limit, isn’t it? Just don’t Google it. I’m now in a very specific marketing funnel, thanks to Googling that, for work, I should add, but still.

Anyway. But yes, LinkedIn is probably the best place, and then, so there’s links then to my website and, like you mentioned, a couple of different white papers you can download if you want to know a bit more information, and there’s various kind of, blogs and editorials and stuff on there, but yeah, drop me a line on LinkedIn, say hi.

Brilliant. Thank you very much. I have thoroughly enjoyed our conversation. Thank you so much for your time, Bethany. Great to see you. and, look, thank you. Thank you for coming along and thanks to everyone for listening.