Differentiating Brand Voice in an Age of Excessive Exclamation!!!

Posted by Owen Matson, Ph.D. on Apr 21, 2017 7:16:16 PM

Excessive Exclamation Points?!!!  Who? Me?  

I recently received a note expressing concern over my “overuse” of exclamation points: “You might want to reconsider your tendency to overuse exclamation points.” Overuse?  Overly emphatic?  Me?  OK.  Fair enough. Still, I requested an explanation. I wasn’t offended by the feedback.  I was just curious about the commentary.  I sensed a big discussion behind the advice. Alas, I received no reply. 

So I began to think about the meaining of my reader’s feedback.  I "might" want to reconsider my overuse of exclamation points?  Was this a complaint?  A soft recommendation?  Sarcastic criticism?  

At the end of the day, the use of exclamation points is about communicating tone.  And tone is largely a matter of taste—as in “there is no accounting for…”

For my part, when it comes to issues of usage and style, I tend to be rather pragmatic: Whatever works, I say!!!  

Still, tone is hard to determine in online communication.  But then that's the whole point: Communicating tone in digital media requires content writers rethink the traditional rules and tools of style--including the use punctuation to project meaning and tone.  Effective brand writing across digital channels is a complex issue, one that requires more than placing a ban on multiple exclamation points. Here's some issues to consider...

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Topics: Content Strategy, B2B Digital Marketing, B2B Brand Writing, Brand Voice, B2B Content Writing, Digital Marketing, B2B Branding,, Brand Strategy

Why Brand Value Can Matter Most When it Doesn't Seem to Matter at All.

Posted by Owen Matson, Ph.D. on Apr 11, 2017 5:03:49 PM

Shakespeare's Juliet famously argues that names don't matter:  "What's in a name?  A rose by any other name would smell as sweet." In other words, calling a rose by any other name--whether a "dandelion" or "doughnut"--won't change the way the flower effects our sense of smell.  Juliet's line presents a classic take on the arbitrary character of names.  Names are nothing more than human inventions that refer to real things.  As such, names obviously don't change the reality of things themselves.  It's common sense.

Then again, what we call a "dollar bill" is more than a piece of paper. The Mona Lisa is much more than a bunch oil paint smeared on an old canvas.  While names are aribitrary, they are not trivial.  Things are things, but names and labels shape how we experience the meaning of these things. I don't know about roses, but a car by another name can be in fact feel much sweeter.  

So what's in a Brand?  A lot.

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Topics: Automated Sales, Brand, B2B Content, B2B Brand Writing, Brand Style Guide, Brand Identity, Brand Story, Brand Strategy, Automotive Industry

What Band is Your Brand?  Pop Icons Provide a Language for Brands.

Posted by Owen Matson, Ph.D. on Apr 7, 2017 3:28:54 PM

 

Brand Archetypes are nothing new.  That's the problem.  They need a refresh. 

Marketers have long used mythical archetypes to fashion brand stories.   Mythic archetypes appeal to the values of audiences by explaining how a brand enables participation in a heroic story.  For instance, in an article for the Content Marketing Institute, Bryan Rhoads explains that the archetypal “Overcoming the Monster” story line follows a prototypical “David vs. Goliath” structure that places customers as the quintessential “underdogs” in a fight against a “larger evil”: 

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Topics: B2B Brand Writing, Brand Voice, B2B Branding,, Brand Identity, Brand Archetypes, Brand Story, Brand Development

High- and Low- Brand Diction: Little DIfferences, Big Differentiation

Posted by Owen Matson, Ph.D. on Apr 5, 2017 7:05:04 AM

Small is Tall: Marketing in a Nutshell

 

Yeah yeah--small, tall, whatever.  Just give me the caffeine.  

We all know that clever little "disruptor": Some sneaky marketing genius at Starbucks decided that their small coffee would be known as a "tall"--a shift in diction that happens to earn about twice as much for the comparably sized "small" cup of coffee at McDonalds.  

Words matter.  What's the difference between a hotel and a motel?  Sometimes--maybe often--just a letter and about $50 a night.  And there you have it: Marketing in a nutshell. 

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Topics: B2B Content, B2B Brand Writing, Brand Voice, B2B Content Writing, Content Creation, Brand Writing, Brand Style Guide

How to Differentiate Your Brand Voice: Some Essential, if Unusual, Tips.

Posted by Owen Matson, Ph.D. on Apr 4, 2017 7:29:54 PM

How to Differentiate Your Brand Voice: Some Essential Tips

 

 

When it comes to authentic branding, whatever else you do, I highly recommend NOT referring to your brand’s “value proposition” as a “quality solution.”

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Topics: Differentiators, B2B Content, B2B Digital Marketing, Content Writing, B2B Brand Writing, Style, Brand Voice, B2B Content Writing, Tone, Brand Writing, Brand Style Guide

The Challenge of Being Authentic is not about How to Act, but about How not to.

Posted by Owen Matson, Ph.D. on Apr 3, 2017 5:51:16 PM

Most readers will have likely already encountered a number of articles on the importance of authentic branding--not to mention the various complexities of the concept.  Visitors to this site will in fact find many articles on the topic.  

For all its relevance to effective branding, the challenge of authenticity is , however, above all, personal.  Turn back the dials, and my guess is that you'll find that all these concerns over authenticity speak to more fundamental questions regarding how one might live.

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Topics: Thought Leadership, B2B Brand Writing, B2B Markets

Why Concrete Language is Essential to Engaging Content

Posted by Owen Matson, Ph.D. on Mar 30, 2017 4:23:02 PM

Making the Abstract Concrete: The Challenge of Content Writing in Niche B2B Markets

One of the most challenging aspects of developing effective B2B content involves the need to produce writing that speaks on two levels: On one level, content must engage the highly specialized language, or “jargon” (to risk an unnecessarily pejorative term) of professional audiences in niche markets; on another level, target audiences are often diverse, and content must consequently present material with the clarity necessary to remain accessible to a broader range of stakeholders.

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Topics: Content Writing, B2B Brand Writing, B2B Content Writing

Content Marketer, by Action if not Job Title: MarketScale Interviews Adam Williams

Posted by Owen Matson, Ph.D. on Mar 29, 2017 11:43:08 AM

Now I am a content marketer, by action if not job title. I get to put content marketing into action because I’ve been given the room to shape my own role and our companies’ marketing path…  What helps to ease that challenge is our leadership is supportive and onboard. I couldn’t ask for more from them. I have the green light and their patience to keep letting this evolve. We all are thinking long term.

—Adam Williams, Head of Marketing, Palo Duro Hardwoods and Lägler North America

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Topics: Creative, B2B Content, B2B Digital Marketing, B2B Brand Writing, Marketer Interview, Marketer Profile, Content Marketing

My Advice on Grammar: Whatever Works

Posted by Owen Matson, Ph.D. on Mar 29, 2017 8:41:58 AM

Instead of using grammar "as rules" for proper usage, we need to use grammar as tools for effective impact.

Grammar Rules are Tools.

That’s right, when it comes to grammar, the rules are tools.  Don't think of them as bureaucratic regulations designed to get in your way, and don't think of the chance to bend them as a special treat. Instead, think of them as a collection of techniques that are likely to have the desired effect on your readers.

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Topics: Brand, B2B Content, B2B Brand Writing, Grammar

The Grammar of Brand Writing: Effective Branding and the Myth of Proper Grammar

Posted by Owen Matson, Ph.D. on Mar 27, 2017 9:00:00 AM

Effective Marketing is Effective Writing. But what is effective writing? 

Wait, one second, let me get my Mark Twain on: Now there ain't a rule in this here language what can't be broke. The so-called rules of English grammar and style were not spoken by a burning bush; they're just guidelines about what's likely to be effective. If you learn to treat them that way, you'll live a happier life.

Effective writing comes down to 3 simple steps:

  1. Figure out where your audience is now.
  2. Figure out where you want your audience to end up.
  3. Take them from one to the other.

If you can pull it off, anything goes.

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Topics: Content, Content Strategy, Writing, Content Writing, B2B Brand Writing, Grammar, Style, Brand Voice

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