When I envision a writer, my mind typically fabricates a thin, emotionally tortured Englishman writing prose at the local café or a fast-paced, witty newspaper columnist trotting down Wall Street with a tape recorder and notepad in hand. In my mind, the stereotypical “writer” persona generally has a standout personality and a very particular written style.
Because of this personal bias, I have a hard time labeling myself as a “writer.” Working in online marketing means I literally write for a living… so why can’t I consider myself as such?
What does it mean to be “a writer?”
After years of tortured deliberation, I’ve come to terms with the fact that my idea of a “writer” is very narrow. For too long, I’ve focused on the concept of a specific style or written voice defining who I am as a writer.
As marketing writers, we are actually much more effective at our jobs when we are not pigeonholed by a particular style of writing. Instead, it’s important that we are dynamic and moldable in our writing style. There are two main considerations when molding your writing style in favor of a specific brand:
1. Think of Your Audience
We’ve all heard it before: it’s important to keep the things that your target audience wants to hear in mind. What your audience wants to hear can drive your messaging.
All too often, however, writing for the audience can cannibalize internal marketing strategies. The trick is to find a balance between what your audience wants to hear and what your brand wants to say.
2. Embody the Brand
I once had a discussion with a graphic designer friend that changed my perspective on writing marketing copy. He said that, when designing collateral for a brand, he liked to picture who that brand is. From there, it’s easier to come up with a style that works.
From that time on, I’ve done an exercise when writing for a new brand. This exercise is to basically invent a “character” based on the brand. Who is this brand? What do they wear? Where do they vacation? What’s important to them? I then dust off my acting skills–which have laid dormant since my freshman year stint in the theater department–and do my best to become the brand.
Forever21’s character is a late-teen-to-early-twenty-something-year-old who holds season tickets to this summer’s series of underground concerts. This character is generally fashion forward but doesn’t compromise comfort and flexibility for the sake of an outfit. Often found with a chai latte and book in hand, this character is spontaneous and fun loving, always open to new friendships and exciting adventures.
Nordstrom’s character, on the other hand, is a middle-aged professional with an eye for aesthetics. This character’s main passions are furthering their career, working with a local non-profit organization and renovating their kitchen (subway tile backsplash and granite countertops! Swoon!) This character can be found in their office or having brunch at the bistro down the street.
Both of these brands specialize in selling stylish retail products, can be found in malls and are generally well known. It would be easy to assume that the written tone for both brands would be very similar. With the proper analysis, however, we find that these brands have very unique personalities that should be represented.
Finding a Voice
By customizing my writing style to the needs of each client, I have given myself the opportunity to write for innumerable types of brands. This, in turn, has helped me find the styles that I like and the styles that I’m less comfortable with. I’ve found that exercising my writing skills by reaching outside my comfort zones helps me to become a more dynamic writer while simultaneously helping me hone in on my personal style.
In the world of writing, having an individual style and voice is important. But in the world of online marketing, finding the right style and voice trumps individuality.
Having trouble finding your brand’s voice? By having an online marketing firm evaluate your brand, you can gain a clearer vision on the direction your marketing efforts should take. Get a free brand analysis from Digital Flavor today!