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How To Build Your Brand Voice

We've learned that like anything else, writing takes practice.

Hero image for Issue #19: Brand Voice

Oh, hello. I’m Austin. I like beer, gardening, pit bulls, and being weird on the internet.

I write, edit, and otherwise facilitate tons of words for Mailchimp — taglines and blog posts, feature pages and sponsorship blurbs, guides and one-off projects. Every day is something new. Sometimes, I even write about “brand voice.”

As you’ve learned in previous issues of What’s in Store, we’ve never opened an online store, let alone run the marketing for one. Similarly, I’ve written all sorts of stuff over the years, from journalism to press releases. I once wrote a story about baseball for a terrible gas station periodical. But until Freddie and Co., I’d never worked on, say, product descriptions for a pair of socks. It’s been a learning experience.

Mailchimp has grown a lot in recent years, and that growth extends to our marketing department. A couple years ago, we would’ve been hard-pressed to pull off a project like Freddie and Co. Now, we’ve got an ever-growing team of designers, social media specialists, marketing managers, writers, and other folks.

A typical Freddie and Co. campaign starts with Meg and Melissa. They decide what we’re writing about, be it a sale or a new collection. Then it goes to one of our writers, Brandon. After that, I edit the email and our design team makes it look great.

Sometimes these campaigns only need a quick paragraph. Other times, they’re a little more involved. To quote the Voice and Tone section of our style guide, “Mailchimp’s tone is usually informal, but it’s always more important to be clear than entertaining.” That’s a good way to describe most Freddie and Co. emails:

Sometimes they even include Atlanta rap references.

We usually keep Freddie and Co. emails short and to the point. When a customer gets an email from our store, we don’t want to waste their time. We also want to make sure our intent — or call to action — is obvious. But we also want it to be lighthearted. It’s a tricky balance.

If you’re looking for help with your e-commerce company’s email campaigns, this blog post written by Mailchimp’s Kate Kiefer Lee is a great place to start. (And if you really wanna go for it, the book she co-authored with Nicole Fenton is fantastic.) Some of the tips, like reading your work out loud, are great for writing in general. I don’t publish anything anywhere without reading it out loud first.

Our emails have been pretty straightforward, but we’ve been getting a little weirder with product copy. One time I wrote a blurb that made Meg laugh until she cried. (That’s how I knew I did a good job.) Another place where we get a little goofier than usual is the products themselves. Meg says I can’t reveal anything about our next collection, but know that the phrase “garbage thoughts” makes an appearance.

Like anything else, writing takes practice. You may not know what your brand voice is at first, and that’s ok! Your brand is a reflection of you, so start there. Once you’re sending emails and writing product descriptions and getting a feel for what resonates with your customers, it’ll all become second nature. You got this. And hey, if it doesn’t work out, I know a gas station periodical that’ll let you write about baseball.

Thanks, Austin!

Next week, I’m back to talk about why it’s important to test and socialize your products and ideas before launch. We learned that one the hard way, and I’ll tell you all about it. The issue will send on Wednesday instead of Tuesday, so everyone can enjoy Labor Day properly. See you then!

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