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voice guide

What We Learned in 2015

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What We Learned in 2015

What We Learned in 2016 -- WhyWhisper Collective

2015 was an exciting year! We worked to expand access to integrative healthcare for communities in need, designed programs to support new mothers, expanded awareness of clean energy initiatives in New York, and so much more. We connected with inspiring individuals who are working to change the world every day. We made big internal changes (that we’re excited to share with you in 2016!). And, perhaps most importantly, we learned a lot.

Along the way, we’ve been sure to share many of our takeaways with you via our blog. As 2015 comes to a close and you’re kicking of 2016, be sure to check out the posts below to find insights on the subjects (both personal and professional) that are most relevant to you!

Start with Yourself

This year, we learned a lot about the importance of taking time for self-care and self-improvement. The positive effects of taking care of yourself extend to all areas of your life -- from mental health to workplace effectiveness. Self-improvement looks different for each individual, and can encompass anything from taking time off, to making more responsible purchasing decisions, to educating yourself about things that matter to you. To help you get started, here’s some of what we’ve learned:

 

Learn from the Experts

We believe one of the best ways to learn about social impact is by example. This year, we’ve been lucky enough to connect with and learn from innovative and effective leaders from nonprofits, social enterprises, and corporations. Here’s a bit of what we’ve learned:

 

Share Your Message

One of our focus areas at WhyWhisper is helping nonprofits and socially conscious businesses spread the word about their work. From developing voice and messaging guidelines to implementing an effective social media strategy and beyond, there are so many ways you can ensure that people know about the impact you’re making. If you’re looking for tips, start here:

 

Think About Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)

The concept of building social impact into existing business models is on the rise, and we couldn’t be more excited about it. Businesses and corporations can make significant headway in addressing social issues, and we look forward to seeing (and helping) more of you follow suit next year. If you’re interested in learning more about CSR, here’s some of what we’ve shared this past year:

 

Increase Your Impact

We’re constantly exploring ways that organizations and businesses can make internal changes that have a positive effect on their workplaces and on the world. Here’s some of what we’ve learned:

 

Take Action

We’re also always looking for ways to help our community bridge the gap between caring about a particular issue and actually taking action. When you’re short on resources, or don’t really know where to get started, it can be tough to make moves. We’ve put together a number of posts about how you can take action around different issues – and some are as easy as talking about the issues online! Check them out:

 

Words of Wisdom for Freelancers

At WhyWhisper, we set out to build a different kind of work structure. As such, our team is comprised of consultants who work remotely and independently, taking on projects that are personally meaningful with teammates who support and inspire. But freelancing has its own challenges, and we’ve learned a lot along the way:

What’s your biggest learning from 2015? We’d love to hear about it, and share with our community. Here’s how to get in touch:

Happy New Year to our incredible community! We’re so lucky to learn from you every day, and can’t wait for all that we’ll do together this year. Feel free to connect with us anytime – we love to hear from you.

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Developing Your Brand's Voice & Messaging Guidelines

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Developing Your Brand's Voice & Messaging Guidelines

by Kate Vandeveld

When you're beginning to market a new brand, there are a lot of things to consider; for example: Which platforms will you use to promote it? What will you be posting about? Who are your target audiences, and how do you want them to feel or respond whenever they encounter your brand?

Each of these is a key element in building your brand identity; and the voice you use to convey that identity is absolutely crucial. We've discussed the reasons why it's important to take the time to develop a voice, but how does one go about it? What are the key elements that ensure your brand's voice is clear and distinct, and will appeal to your target audience?

We wanted to pass along some helpful information on developing a voice guide for your brand:

Brand Identity Pillars

When you’re preparing to promote your brand, you've likely put a good deal of thought into its visual identity. From logo to color scheme to website aesthetic, every aspect makes a difference in how your audience will perceive you. The same applies to your voice. Take time to think through who your brand is and what the purpose of your messaging will be. Do you want to be seen as an expert in your field, focused on education or thought leadership? Or maybe as a relatable partner that serves as a source of inspiration? Write out 3-4 statements that define your brand, with the understanding that these are all-encompassing: you will not be or share or do anything that falls outside of them. Your content strategy will be built around these brand identity pillars.

Tone

Once you’ve decided on your brand’s basic identity, the first thing you should consider is tone. Is your brand’s voice upbeat and friendly? More professional and knowledgeable? Think about where your audience will be reading your messaging. Is it via email, social channels, website? What tone will you be using for each?  If you're going for upbeat and friendly, for example, your language will likely be more colloquial and informal. If your brand identity is more professional and knowledgeable, on the other hand, you may want to consider using more formal language, perhaps with a bit more industry jargon. The type of language you use will appeal to different types of audiences, so consider the way your target audience generally speaks, and build your voice accordingly.

Guidelines

Next, you'll want to consider the type of content you’ll be sharing. Take the time to map out things you would and wouldn’t post about. When it comes time to begin your content marketing, you’ll have a much better idea of what should and shouldn’t be posted, so as to make sure you stay true to your brand.

Diction

Lastly, it's time to define the specific words and phrases that you want to use in your messaging. Research other individuals and businesses active in your industry to determine which words and phrases are most commonly used, most well received, and which should be avoided. Consider whether you want to play into and build upon language trends and slang, or avoid them altogether. Get as granular as you possibly can; it will help you exponentially when you're developing your content.

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Developing a new brand is a lot of work, but it can also be a lot of fun. You can tweak your guide as you gain insight into what appeals to your audience and what doesn't. And once you have your guide in place, you can share it with your whole team to make sure you're all on the same page when representing your brand. It will also really come in handy if you ever decide to bring in any outside help!

Do you have any tips for new brands that are developing their voices? Share with us! Here's how:

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Sell Your Product First and Your Story Second

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Sell Your Product First and Your Story Second

by Shanley Knox

 Nowhere has business become more purposeful than in the world of social enterprise. New businesses are constantly cropping up with world-changing missions, messages of empowerment, and products to address even the worst of society's issues.

In a world where nearly half of global consumers are willing to pay extra for socially responsible products and services, it's becoming a growing challenge for social enterprises to stand out against other cause-oriented products and services. 

In his recent piece, “Social Enterprises Must Move Beyond Purpose,” Heath Shackelford writes that, “your customers only allow your purpose to be a factor if you meet other criteria, including price, quality and value.”

To differentiate your social enterprise, begin by providing the best possible product or service. Then, market it like a successful business would - through effective research, market differentiation, and smart brand messaging. Afterward, tell a social story that illustrates the power of what a successful social business can do.

Here are some steps to get you started:  

Learn Your Market
Before you plan for marketing to your market, you’re going to need to know who they are. Begin by determining factors such as what kind of customer is going to pay for your product or service, and where you can find them.

Some key questions:

  • Approximately how many people out there are willing to pay for your product?
  • What amount are they willing to pay for your product or service?
  • Where are these people located?
  • What are these people interested in?
  • Who is already marketing a similar product to them, and how do you measure up against them?

Find Your Unique Selling Point 
Many social enterprises focus on the social benefits of their product, rather than focusing on the value and quality of their product itself. Now that you know who your customer is, and who else is selling to them, it’s time to identify your unique selling point... in other words, what makes your product or service more attractive than anyone else’s? 

  • Research your customer’s satisfaction with their current products or services: What do they love? What would they want to change? Why?
  • Are there certain messages that are a “no-go”? For instance, your customers may associate terms such as “nonprofit,” “fair trade” or “green” with a product that is subpar. By identifying and removing these “trigger” phrases, you remove potential purchasing barriers.

Craft Your Voice
Once you've decided how to effectively market your product, its time to integrate your social mission back into your branding, and create a voice that will consistently tell your story to current and potential customers:

  • What is the type of message that resonates most with your customers - is it people or numbers? emotional stories or statistics? formal or casual?
  • What are the facets of your social story that appeal most to the customer sector you have identified? 
  • Who are the influencers (voices that effectively influence others' purchasing decisions) in your customer groups? Wow can you reach them and convince them to share your product?
  • Which social platforms are your customers currently using, and how must you adjust your voice to meet the parameters of that particular platform? 

Looking for more support in building an effective marketing strategy for your social enterprise? Check out these helpful resources:

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