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The Fast Company Executive Board is a private, fee-based network of influential leaders, experts, executives, and entrepreneurs who share their insights with our audience.

Here’s how to keep a consistent tone in your external content

If you’re outsourcing your content creation efforts, it’s important to ensure your brand “voice” is consistent.

Here’s how to keep a consistent tone in your external content
Members of Fast Company Executive Board share their expert insights. [Image: Courtesy of the individual members.]

Successful businesses have clear, powerful messaging that lets customers know their values and what they stand for as a brand. The messaging these companies use doesn’t differ on each social media platform, either: It stays consistent, whether you read about the brand on Instagram, LinkedIn, or other sites.

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Sometimes, when companies outsource their consumer-facing content, the messaging and voice don’t appear consistent. To ensure this doesn’t happen to your business, 14 Fast Company Executive Board members are sharing their tips for maintaining a consistent tone of voice, regardless of the channel.

1. START BY BUILDING FRAMEWORKS.

Lessons learned crafting content for over 100 brands show us that consistency drives consistency. Start with a messaging framework that captures story essentials but leaves room for customization. When it comes to scaling tone of voice, create a keystone piece, use it to build consensus, then use that to build brand frameworks to be used by strategists, designers, and writers. – Mark De L. Thompson, Dialog

2. CREATE ALL CONTENT FOLLOWING THE SAME GUIDELINES.

Establish consistent messaging documents and coordinated themes before you create content, then execute all content with those guidelines to project a consistent voice. Make sure every team member reviews any writing with your messaging guide in mind. Any content that is outsourced should follow the same guide and be edited to conform before it goes live where it can be viewed publicly. – Evan Nierman, Red Banyan

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3. STANDARDIZE DESIGN ELEMENTS.

Besides a consistent brand identity strategy and documentation, Canva has a good business subscription where design elements and templates can be standardized and easily shared between team members. If you use it as your starting point for each project, it makes the look and feel of the team’s work much more consistent. – Kevin Namaky, Gurulocity Brand Management Institute

4. ESTABLISH A BENCHMARK.

Leaders must establish a benchmark in terms of a good content strategy that demonstrates company values through effective brand messaging. Helpful and engaging content will attract the right audience while its authenticity will help ensure consistency and prove invaluable to a company’s communication efforts in the long run. – Irfan Khan, CLOUDSUFI

5. PROVIDE EXAMPLES OF GOOD AND BAD CONTENT.

You need to create guidelines for your branded content and provide examples of posts done right and done badly as well. When you provide context through example posts and guidelines, you make it possible for outsourced writers anywhere in the world to create brand-accurate posts. It’s critical to spend some time working with the same people and training them to help them make your content right. – Syed Balkhi, WPBeginner

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6. HAVE AN IN-HOUSE SCREENING PROCESS.

Anyone that is going to be creating content (whether public or consumer-facing) needs to be well-versed in your brand voice, tone, values, and mission. All of the content that would be created would need to be approved in-house before any posting would take place in order to make those last-minute tweaks that may be necessary. – Christopher Tompkins, The Go! Agency

7. MAKE YOUR MISSION CLEAR TO ALL EMPLOYEES.

Anyone touching front-facing initiatives needs to understand the mission and messaging of the brand fully and without exception. Any deviation will cause market confusion and dilute whatever power your brand holds or, in the case of those just starting out, blur the overall objectives of the company. – Richard RB Botto, Stage 32

8. IMPLEMENT A STRICT REVIEW PROCESS.

Outsourcing content creation is often necessary to scale up your business but it’s important to keep everything unified with your brand. The best way to stay consistent is with clear brand guidelines and a strict review process. Hire someone talented that you trust to be a dedicated brand editor. They should review all content and make sure everything is up to par before the public sees it. – Reuben Yonatan, GetVoIP

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9. BE INTENTIONAL AND CONSISTENT.

Tactically, coordinate internally about brand guidelines. From determining what your brand stands for, to finalizing the color scheme for your logo, it’s important to be intentional into touchpoints with internal and external teams. Brands are constantly evolving, but it’s crucial to align on how to be represented, from social media to client meetings and everything in between. – Liza Streiff, Knopman Marks Financial Training

10. RUN THE ‘NO LOGO’ TEST.

I like to follow the “no logo” test. If your logo does not appear with the content, would the audience still know it was coming from your brand? It is a great touchstone test to ensure a consistent tone across all channels. – Leigh Dow, Identiv

11. BASE CONTENT ON YOUR BRAND PROMISE.

All content needs to be grounded and based on your company’s brand promise. At our agency, we create the future faster for our clients, our industry, and our people. That ethos is applied to everything we do. – Steven Moy, Barbarian

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12. CREATE SHAREABLE BUSINESS ARTIFACTS.

I’m all about business artifacts: your vision, values, and brand guide, for example. These artifacts unify disparate people across your organization to share from a diverse but common and consistent place that represents your brand. – Ashleigh Vogstad, Transcends Marketing Ltd

13. MAKE THE REVIEW PROCESS INTO A ROLE.

Take ownership and accountability. Someone (or a team) needs to own the company voice, ensure all communications are consistent across all content and channels and be accountable to this responsibility. – Josh Perlstein, Response Media

14. MAINTAIN A VERY DETAILED STYLE GUIDE.

One way to make sure consumer-facing content has a consistent tone of voice is by having a very detailed style guide that sets out among other things: your copy style, imagery design, as well as the business’s personality. For example, are you serious or playful? – Michael Fenech, EndGame Network PTY LTD

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