It’s 7.30am on day two of Nielsen’s Usability Week in Caesar’s Palace Las Vegas and let’s just say I’m pleased they’re pumping pure oxygen into the casinos...
It took several Sticky Content editors several months to pull together and then Americanise the highly-practical workshop on ‘Creating and delivering consistent brand tone of voice online’ that I’m about to present. Unfortunately we did not anticipate my spaghetti jet-lag brain.
Help comes in the form of Diane who it turns out is not just there to serve the breakfast but is also 'in the business of marketing entertainment, honey'. It turns out that later today Diane has to submit a review to a entertainment website of a new Vegas show. As far as I understand it, ‘Peep Show’ is a musical spectacular where women flash their boobs while gyrating to nursery rhymes. Classy.
What’s worrying Diane is that 'I ain’t no writer honey'. I reassure her that this is true of most people charged with publishing time-sensitive product reviews to websites. But what Diane does have in spades is a unique tone of voice. We decide that her best bet is to record herself talking about the show (about which she is hilarious, articulate and passionately opinionated) and then get cousin Deon to ask his son to type it up for her.
Half an hour later, I’m advising web marketing professionals from American colleges, banks, software houses and retailers to do more or less the same thing (without the help of Deon). Because the first step toward rolling out a consistent brand tone of voice online is to establish how that brand should ‘sound’. And to know how your brand should sound, you first have to establish its personality, tonal values and the kinds of things it would and wouldn’t say.
As Diane advised me shortly before I began: 'Just be yourself honey, coz nobody wants to sit through a load of BS'. If only all British insurance websites took the same approach.
Catherine Toole will be presenting both the 'Write your way to cost-effective customer care online' and 'Creating a consistent brand tone of voice online' seminars at Usability Week in Berlin in November 2009.