Visual identity is often the first aspect of branding that a creative business will consider when they think about how to speak to their target audience. What styling is required, props that are needed and the colour palette are all vital pieces of communication, but when did the written word get so lost in the midst of design and visuals?
With the rise of design-led platforms such as Instagram and Pinterest as well as a 280 character limit on Twitter, arguably words have been cast adrift from the limelight in favour of curated imagery and the coveted 3 by 3 square grid.
But what of words?
The art of the written word is just as valuable as the visual tropes that initially catch your eye. The words are what draw you in and create the feeling of your brand. They tell the story of why you do what you do and the purpose of your business.
In this way, it is just as important to find the tropes in language and tone of voice that your audience will identify with as it is to find those in your visual identity. Would your audience prefer a quiet and reflective tone of voice, or one that ‘pops’ with lively imagination to match your sherbet lemon and peony pink visuals? Would your audience prefer to be enveloped by enchanting whispers of the English countryside or would they prefer a sales pitch that shouts out from the screen and demands their attention? Hopefully it isn’t the latter, but I’m sure you catch my meaning…
Finding the words for your online community takes thought, consideration, patience and, most of all, practise. As with many worthwhile skills, it requires the flexing of those writing muscles in order to get your brand copywriting up to scratch. But how do you get started?
Your audience, who are you really talking to?
First things first, who are you actually writing for? Without having a picture in your mind of your audience you will find it very difficult to determine the tone you should use or even what content you should include. Do your audience already have an awareness of the subject you are writing about or are they complete novices? Do you need to simplify your language or can you use a lot of technical jargon? Imagine that the person who you are speaking to is in the room with you and think about how you might convey your message to them in conversation.
Your purpose and the why of your business
Kayte of Simple and Season, Sara of Me & Orla and many others have spoken far and wide on the subject of getting to grips with your why and how it is at the very core of your business and its purpose. To expand on this, not only should you have a why for your brand, you should also have an extension of your why in each piece of writing you produce. This is whether it is a blog post, your about page or an Instagram caption, your why will shift and change depending on what your focus is for that piece of content.
Find your flow
This, for me, is the magical part. The part which psychologists call your ‘flow’ or being in the ‘zone’. If you would like writing for your business to sound authentic and true, I believe that getting into the flow will be key. My biggest tip for this is to set the scene. Make yourself comfy, have a cup of your favourite tea at hand, light a candle and make writing a ritual and a reward. So often we make writing for our business a chore and something to procrastinate, so flip this on its head and make it a wonderful experience that you look forward to.
Then you must begin. Scary, huh? Take the pressure off and don’t worry too much about what you’re writing, just get going. Putting pen to paper on a blank page is often the hardest part, so get something down there and just get scribbling. I am a big advocate of paper and pen (helps with getting in the flow that we just talked about) but anything that gets you going is great.
Just have your audience, your why and the core of your message in your heart and mind as you write. So a wedding florist would be thinking of how her brides-to-be (audience) can have the natural, fairy-tale wedding of their dreams (why) and how this might translate to which flowers to select for their wedding bouquet and the meaning behind them (core message of the blog post).
Just get writing with those thoughts in mind. You can even have them written down on a post-it stuck at the top of your notebook or to the side of your screen.
This is where you refine and perfect. Many people stumble with their writing because they feel that what they have first written on the page is not good enough and will give up before they have even got started. When in actual fact, most writers believe that the editing part is what really fleshes out your copy. I like to think of the first draft as the soul of the piece, the beauty of the content yet still very much part of the brainstorming process. The editing is really where you can frame your writing, tweak it and craft your words to express your core message.
And then, proofread. Proofread. Proofread.
Or, if you can’t be bothered, get your Mum, husband, sibling, lady who you met on the bus, anyone, to read it. Beautifully crafted writing can at times be dashed by the jarring addition of a superfluous word, spelling error or other mistake, so please do read your copy before sending it out into the world.
And finally, just be you. Although we may sound like a different part of ourselves when we write, you still want to sound like you. Especially when your business or brand is you. The aim is to be personable so that your audience can really capture the essence and soul of your creative business or brand.
So how do you feel about writing in your business? Is it something that you put off or dread for the whole month? Or is it something you can’t wait to sit down and do? Who are your favourite writers in business?