Let’s say you work for a shoe company and the owner has been managing the marketing and social media since inception. The owner’s passion and extroversion is off the charts.
He’s bouncy, high-energy, barely sleeps and speaks like a contemporary pirate. Business is booming you’ve been brought on board to take over the marketing. But you don’t speak pirate.
Ahoy! Welcome to the marketing landscape that I inherited when I first started.
What I wanted to achieve was a seamless transition, but in those first few weeks, it was clear that this was just a pipe dream. The daily grind led only to the desert, where my ideas drowned in the dry sand and my right brain was dehydrated from attempting to write posts that didn’t result in ping-pong match between the pirate and the introvert.
Anyone who was following us could pick the author behind each post, even with their wrists bound, blindfolded and stumbling drunk across the plank.
I’m an absolute believer that a brand should have a personality. However there’s a reason that Richard Branson has his own Instagram account, and I’d bet he never takes the controls of the Virgin Airlines accounts. I wondered how large organisations with teams of writers churning the content windmills nailed consistency.
I knew that the answer was not to try and channel someone else’s mannerism. I wouldn’t be genuine. It was a one way ticket to losing the trust of our customers. At the same time, I didn’t want to completely break the bonds of what made the existing tone work. Customers had gotten familiar with his quirky vernacular and at times it could be quite endearing for all its grittiness. The trick was identifying the strands that made a connection.
In an ideal world, there would be a content strategy and tone guide ready for referencing. That didn’t exist. My first attempts to visualise what our brand would look like if it were a person, freakishly led me to conjuring visions of none other than the person – the owner – who had so dominated the voice of the brand.
That’s okay. Keep winding back. I’ve returned to the basics, to recreate the brand identity from the ground up. It’s been a long, slow journey. There are many questions to ask and it requires a really strong understanding of the brand itself.
What’s exciting is that I get to be part of this next phase in the brand’s development – into a more mature social business – a self-aware, confident entity. A company that knows its value so well that there can be no doubt in the customer’s mind, that there’s no better alternative.