Imagine you are a young brand, with a great story. You’re operating in an area of the market where there aren’t many authentic players. And you’re proud of your roots in Croydon,
Your business has grown out of a barber shop; your focus is on “grooming for the black gent”. You’re young, ambitious, and want to drive your business forward and do the right thing.
So you get a professional writer to write your values page on your website.
And it sounds nothing like you at all.
It could be written about just about any brand. It’s very nice, polite writing, but it has no personality and no sense of your brand whatsoever.
Dull. Lacking impact.
And unfortunately all too common. Why do people stop writing the way they sound?
But I’m not very business-like / swear a lot / am a bit common
Or whatever your choice of words is here.
I hate it when people think they have to be posh or write in the Queen’s English in their content. Unless they happen to be posh.
Or the Queen.
I say do not lose your own voice in your content. One of the best tests is to read what you’ve written, or had written for you, out loud.
Does it sound like you?
Or does it make you squirm slightly? Or laugh out loud at yourself?
If it’s either of those two, then it’s probably not right for you or your brand. You’ve lost your voice.
Don’t be beige. Do be authentic.
There are so many big brands trying hard to fake authenticity. The advantage that smaller brands tend to have is that they are closer to their own truth, their own authentic story. But sometimes they think they have to act like the big boys.
Tell your story, your way, and never apologise for that. Your voice, your story.
The story of Shear & Shine
My thanks to Aaron, one of the co-founders of Shear & Shine, for allowing me to share this part of the conversation we had. I think this is a great brand, with a great story, and Aaron has that overused word for his business: passion. And that, as so many would agree, isn’t something you can fake in any walk of life.
We talked about how clients coming into the barber shop would experience the brand, particularly with the barber shop being a key part of the black community. My own experience is purely limited to watching Desmond’s. I did, however, know that the way the values page has been written doesn’t tap into the energy, the community of these places, not to mention the comedy, debate and friendship. Just from the conversation with Aaron, you could tell it had not captured the energy he brings to that brand.
I imagine that not many of Aaron’s customers will recognise the same place in the values page. Yet undoubtedly for regulars, it has a value beyond just a place to get a haircut. And that’s what should be coming across in everything that Shear & Shine do.
When we were talking, it reminded me of something David Hieatt said last year, about not hiring someone else to do your writing. When I see things like this, I can understand his perspective.
What should you do?
If you’re wondering if your content is really on brand, then I really would try the reading out loud exercise, or get a very honest friend to read it. Not everyone gets to hear your brand story directly from you, so ensure that every bit of content sounds like you telling your story.
In this case, I would imagine telling the story to someone who was in the chair, having their hair cut or beard trimmed. Same language, same style, same humour. One voice.
Doesn’t matter if you’re writing a blog post or a caption for Instagram. Tell your story, your way, with your voice.
And to hell with the Queen’s English.
Since I spoke to Aaron, the business has rebranded as By Aaron Wallace. I love that there is much stronger tone of voice, and you get an absolute sense of the purpose of business.