Part of establishing your brand is using a brand persona.
Whenever you create marketing materials, publish articles or post on social media, you are doing so as if you are this fictional persona. That persona should represent your brand’s values, goals and personality.
The type of pronoun you choose in your writing will determine how you can use that persona and connect with your audience. Here are a few pros and cons to consider when choosing a pronoun for your brand’s persona:
First Person Singular
The first person singular is “I.”
The primary advantage of writing as an “I” is that you are creating a strong persona that has the potential to really connect with your audience. You are writing as if you are having an intimate conversation with your audience. Readers may feel as if you are about to tell them a secret or call them out by name.
Choosing this pronoun makes readers feel like they are a part of the conversation — not just subjects to which to be lectured.
If you do choose to write as an “I,” you need to have a clear byline or signature. Otherwise, readers will wonder exactly who you are. Even if that byline is entirely fictional, it helps to create a persona behind the voice to which readers can connect.
The disadvantage of using the first-person pronoun is the same as the advantage: It’s intimate. Some readers may not like that intimacy and may feel it is too much too soon — especially from a large brand. Some may even perceive it as disingenuous.
If you have a small company, it may be very obvious that you are writing from a fictional perspective. If you choose to write from the first person, you must write as yourself, and that can pose its own problems.
Finally, the first-person perspective can seem too, well, personal. Some may view that as unprofessional. Really, it depends on your brand. If you are a large conglomerate that talks about investing, you may not want to write in the first person. If you are a small, local company that sells surfing accessories, the first-person perspective may be perfect for you.
First Person Plural
The first person plural perspective can give you the intimacy you want without feeling too personal. Write as a “we,” or a group, instead of an individual.
The advantage of writing as a “we” is that you establish a sense of authority. Just think of the royal “we.” It seems very formal and very boss-like. Only those with authority can get away with using it.
“We” also suggests the weight of numerous perspectives behind it, which encourages trustworthiness. Several opinions are generally thought to reach the right consensus, while a lone opinion can be fallible.
It is especially important to use “we” when addressing customer complaints or making public apologies. That makes it obvious that the entire brand is taking responsibility and not pinning it on just one person.
The disadvantage of using “we” is that it can feel distancing at times. It can seem more “corporate,” and some readers may view your messaging as marketing and more readily dismiss it.
Combining the first-person singular and the first-person plural may be the solution you need to create the right tone.
You can use the first-person singular during the times that those advantages would suit you, such as when posting on social media or when writing more intimate blog posts. You might task several members of your team with writing these posts, or you might create several fictional personas to “write” them.
You can then use the first-person plural during the times when that would be best, such as when you need to make a more official announcement or when you have to handle customer complaints or concerns.
Using the combination of perspectives will allow you to create a more professional demeanor when it’s needed or to be more personal with your audience when you want to draw them in and create a connection.
There is no right or wrong answer when determining the voice you should establish for your brand, but you should think carefully about how your choice will affect your marketing efforts.
You should also be consistent in using the voice that you choose across your marketing channels and collateral. That means using the same voice in your email marketing as you do in your direct mailings (if you still use those), as well as in your Facebook posts and your blogs.
Consistency is what will help you establish your brand persona, whether it is in the voice you use, your logo, the types of posts you create, or the design of your website and other marketing materials. Think carefully about how each of these things creates the brand reputation that you want.