Can Your Marketing Materials Have Too Much Personality?

oopsNo one wants to be just another (attorney/insurance agent /hair stylist/dentist/chiropractor ….fill in the blank) clamoring for consumers’ attention, particularly in today’s impatient, digitally-based marketplace.  Articles flood our inboxes with tips on branding and differentiation.  But sometimes, business owners miss the mark by confusing or even offending prospects as they attempt to make bold statements.

Hinge Marketing hits the nail on the head by identifying some key elements of a successful brand:

“Every brand needs a voice. Messaging provides the words that help customers and prospects understand a firm’s value (why it’s useful) and values (what it believes in). It articulates the brand’s promise and stimulates desire for a firm’s services. A brand’s messaging sums up all of the experiential characteristics of a brand and rallies them behind a single flag. In the war for customers’ hearts, messaging leads the charge.”

But what if your voice is the shrieky one that makes people shudder and run away?  (“Your mattress is FREE!!!”)   In attempting to gain approval from multiple stakeholders, does your message become so diluted it is meaningless, or so cumbersome it is unappealing?  (“The redline from Legal just came in….”)

Appeal to Emotions – Finding the right note here is critical; some businesses are successful in associating their brand with messages that appeal to deep-rooted human emotions, e.g., the ability to provide security for your family.  But it can be tricky to find something to say about pool cleaners that will pull heart-strings; that’s why a professional writer can help.

Match Tone and Style to Target Market –  Is your language age- and style-appropriate? Are you trying too hard to be “hip” and missing the mark?  (Awkward…don’t be that guy!)  If you are a B2C company (business to consumer), be sure to avoid speaking above your audience as if you were talking to colleagues in your field. But being preachy or condescending is just as bad.

Not TOO Cute – The right touch of humor, a bit of spunk, a less-than-formal writing style can all work well….but can also backfire if done wrong.  People will be LingOL if you use texting short-cuts or Twitter-talk on your business website.  And while occasional salty language may be accepted in a live presentation in some circles, it really has no place in copywriting.

Do No Harm –The mantra for health care providers applies here too; under no circumstances should your professional materials have discriminatory, exclusionary, or otherwise offensive language.  Sometimes, it pays to have an objective second opinion to make absolutely sure that nothing has inadvertently slipped in that could be taken the wrong way.

Branding messages can be serious or whimsical, direct or subtle.  But above all else, they must connect to your firm’s value statement, must be concise and memorable, and should inspire action.  Seek input from a variety of constituents to see if your messaging hits or misses the mark.