A Fond Farewell: When Part of Your Brand’s Voice Moves On
It’s been three years since I became one part of a team that serves as the voice of Bruce Clay, Inc. And boy, has it been an awesome ride. Being in a position of communication on behalf of a company comes with a lot of responsibility. Every week, you are out there repping a brand the best you can, and trying to create a valuable experience for the community that surrounds it.
And I hope that’s what I’ve done for you, dear readers. Over the years, I’ve given my all reporting on search marketing issues (almost 300 posts for the blog!) because the Bruce Clay brand has been and always will be synonymous with education. It’s admirable that this company has contributed to its community the way it has for more than 17 years now.
And I’ve enjoyed being a part of it. Helping businesses solve problems and participating in the idea-exchange that’s amazingly a “standard” practice within the search industry, well it’s really something special.
I struggled with the idea of writing this post. I didn’t want it to come off as “self-important.” I mean, people leave companies all the time, quietly. But then the other part of me wanted to put the community first, which is way more important than anything I’m feeling personally.
So I talked it over and Virginia had a great idea; she suggested I center the post on the issue – when part of your brand’s voice moves on, what then? I thought that was a fantastic idea.
So for my last blog post as the content and media manager for Bruce Clay, Inc., I thought we’d explore some of the things that create and preserve a brand’s identity over time, even as communication teams inevitably change.
Remember, your brand is what you stand for …
People come and go, but brands have staying power. While you might have a public-facing team that’s known as the “voice” of the company, it’s what the company stands for that will remain no matter who’s in the position of communicating it.
If you’re not sure what your brand stands for. Well, that’s where you need to start. Check out this post on discovering your brand and how to communicate it. The exercises in there can help you set the standards for how you deal with your community on all fronts.
The Bruce Clay brand is synonymous with knowledge transfer – to both clients and the community. It’s because of this that we, as a communications team, are able to spend so much time and resources on things like our blog and newsletter – because the company believes in the value of that.
It’s also worth mentioning the level of creative freedom this company gives to its staff — because it believes in our ideas. These sorts of attributes together make up a brand, and those attributes become apparent in a company’s daily behavior.
Remember, your brand is not just what you say, it’s what you do.
… So your brand’s identity should not be “hearsay”
Do you have your brand identity documented and the communications procedures that surround it? If not, how do you expect to preserve the things that are important to your company over time?
Positions switch hands, and things as important as your brand’s communications process should not be “hearsay,” passed from one person to another verbally. Anyone in a position of responsibility should always document the things that are integral to keeping a company running smoothly.
Sure, the next person may modify them as new developments occur, but company communication guidelines should be a living, historical document that is updated at least yearly if not quarterly – and especially prior to a role switching hands.
To help protect branding and communications consistency over time, consider creating guidelines for things like:
- Your department’s mission.
- A style guide with common spellings of terms in your industry, and grammar and punctuation guidelines for the writing style your company goes by.
- Procedures for any publications you create.
- Processes for proofing, editing or optimizing content.
- Biographies for the main players and the company descriptions in various formats.
- Guidelines for logo usage and any other graphical representations of your brand.
- International guidelines, if applicable.
And don’t forget: your team matters.
Your brand will set the stage for everything you do, and the documentation will help immortalize the identity. But there’s one important factor in making sure your brand is represented in the best possible light year after year: the people. Great brands hire great people. And it’s not always easy to find them.
Finding good people who “get” your brand and “get” how to handle themselves in multiple scenarios is important, and especially when they’re representing company communications. So as you think about how your communications team will evolve over time, place an emphasis on the attributes of the people in that role – what’s important to you, to your company.
Because Bruce Clay, Inc. has a brand that will always be synonymous with education, because the internal process has been developed, and because it has the people, the content that the company produces for its community will continue to aim for the highest quality.
Virginia Nussey has always been a staple in the success of the Bruce Clay blog, newsletter, communications and content for the company. (Much love, V!) So I don’t have to tell you that with her heading the team, not much will change. Except now we have the addition of the talented Kristi Kellogg, who brings her own unique perspective to the content the company is publishing.
And there’s also plans to add more savvy people to the department, as it grows to meet the demands of clients and in-house priorities alike.
So long, farewell, auf wiedersehen, goodnight …
The lessons I’ve learned here as part of the Bruce Clay team, the relationships I’ve forged and the community that I’ve become a part of is something I’ll always be grateful for.
I love the search marketing community and I enjoy what I do. So I plan to be around, just in a different capacity. I’m excited about this next chapter in my life, where I will be pursuing a content development and strategy venture of my own.
Please stay connected with me @BzzContent on Twitter. And thank you, thank you, thank you for everything.