If your brand or business is going to be conversational, it needs a voice.
But what kind of voice? What should it sound like? What kind of vocabulary should you use?
Companies find their voices in all kinds of different ways.
Sometimes it’s the voice of the founder.
For a long time, the voice of Apple was the voice of Steve Jobs. And the voice of the Virgin group of companies is Richard Branson, more or less.
Other times companies can borrow the voices of brand ambassadors or through celebrity endorsements. Those borrowed voices are intended to match the character of the company or brand.
For example, the voice of Nespresso is now closely linked with the voice and star power of George Clooney.
But most companies don’t have a charismatic founder. Nor can they invest tens of millions in celebrity voices.
So they have to create a voice from the ground up.
More often than not, companies create their voice by developing a persona or avatar.
The process goes something like this…
You create your persona by building it with layers of human attributes.
For a formal business, like an investment company, you’ll want to create a persona that sounds and feels solid and reliable.
Let’s call her Linda.
Linda is 45 years old. She started out in the military and now works as an airline pilot for a national carrier. She has a husband and three kids. Her retirement plans are in place and looking good. For fun, she likes to go mountain climbing with a few good friends.
In other words, she’s someone you can trust. She has a steady hand and can be relied on even in tough circumstances. But she’s not boring. She likes a little adventure when she’s not at work.
She’s a good match for an investment company.
Or maybe you’re selling a brand of fruit-infused water. Your audience is millennials and younger.
Your persona isn’t going to be Linda. You’d be better off with Cindy. Cindy is 27 and works as the editor of an adventure travel magazine in Manhattan. She shares an apartment with two friends. And so on…
But don’t stop there…
The next step is to grow your persona into a real character.
All too often marketing personas feel like cardboard cut-outs. Or caricatures.
When that happens, the copy you write feels flat and uninteresting.
This is why I prefer to think in terms of characters. Like a character from your favorite movie or novel.
Fictional characters aren’t real people, but they feel like real people. They have complex lives. They trigger real emotions in us when we see their stories unfold. Things go wrong. There are highs and lows. They’re imperfect and make mistakes. They evolve over time.
In other words, while a persona can easily feel two-dimensional, a character feels like a real person.
Think about how your character might fit into a storyline. Fill in the backstory. Imagine how the character and his story evolves alongside the growth of your business.
Maybe give him a complex life at home as well.
A good character or persona isn’t static. He shouldn’t be the same today as he was last year.
Bring him to life.
This complex, multidimensional character becomes the conversational voice of your business.
When you’re writing conversational copy, it has to be written in a consistent and recognizable voice.
And that voice comes from the complex character you have developed for your brand, or on behalf of a client.
Remember, you develop a character not only to reflect the values of your business, but also to match the lives and values of your prospects and customers.
Your audience needs to be able to connect with your character. And your character needs to empathize with your audience.
Finally, be sure to use your voice consistently, across all media.
Use the same voice on your website, in your emails, on social media, for your chatbot scripts, and elsewhere.
The power of conversational copy is tied to the use of a voice that is rich in character, empathetic and consistent.