Content creation Effective communication Leadership

Content strategy in 2021: What “human” means

Countless experts are weighing in on how brands must build a content strategy in this fragile age. They are largely in agreement that brand messaging must be “human” and “empathetic.” This notion shouldn’t be revolutionary, but somehow it is. Perhaps brand gurus are acknowledging that until now, the expression of their brand identity was canned, forced, relegated to flunkies, or – worst of all – forgotten altogether.

Savvy communicators know that human messaging is vital. And the good news is that executives are embracing it, as well. Understanding how effective messaging can influence an entire organization’s direction is the first step toward building a brand that can withstand whatever curveballs come its way.

That’s the big picture. But what do “human” and “empathetic” mean to the people crafting the message? How do they put that into practice, day to day? Here are a few ideas.

Reconsider how you scale your content

In the past, marketing organizations have relied on a lot of sketchy methods for producing a lot of content quickly. The result is a bank of content that’s anything but human: rote, templated, often-nonsensical verbiage.

Increasing your content output can yield results, but you must do so intelligently to preserve the integrity of your brand. Start small, evaluate both the team and the content strategy along the way, and recalibrate as your needs change. Don’t expect the same process that worked for a content team of five to work for a content team of 20.

Build it into your brand book

A brand book often centers on the visual elements of your brand identity. For maximum usefulness, include guidelines for your brand voice in this company bible. (Brand books often overlap with style guides or writing guides. That’s OK.)

Brand voice guidelines should address tone, style, vocabulary, and examples or models that are clearly illustrative of your brand’s core values. Include customer personas and the latest iteration of your value proposition so that people at all levels understand not just what to do but why.

Go back to basics

Content should be clear and direct. Use plain language. Make every word count. Remember those journal articles you were supposed to read in college, with 78-word sentences about who cares? As brand storytellers, we have 10 seconds to capture people’s attention. Use those seconds wisely. Doing so is a sign of respect. And that’s human.

Educate and reinforce

Eight-six percent of B2B content marketers report that feedback from internal stakeholders makes content worse. Why? Because experts (who are usually non-writers) often equate complexity with quality, and buzzwords with authority.

Executive speaker illustrating leadership's role in brand messaging and content strategy
Honest and empathetic brand messaging starts at the top. Earn employees’ and audiences’ respect with thoughtful strategies and processes.
Photo by Alexandre Pellaes on Unsplash

How do you produce and distribute great content when stakeholders are holding you back? By making your brand voice and content strategy a part of your company’s DNA. Engage company leadership in the process of formalizing your brand voice, and continually point stakeholders to those tenets. Educate subject-matter experts and others regarding the business imperative for clear, direct, engaging content. Collaborate and communicate.

Most importantly, empower your content creators to cultivate subject-matter expertise to help them grow as writers and leaders. Make an investment in their future, and you will be rewarded with boundless creative equity.

When brands are built on a foundation of authenticity and transparency internally, honest and empathetic messaging will follow. The result? Audiences will come to know and trust the real you.

Ready to start building a brand with lasting power? Consummate Prose Consulting is ready to help (and honest to a fault). Contact us today to get started.

2 replies on “Content strategy in 2021: What “human” means”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *