How to Find Your Client’s Brand Voice

Presented live on Tuesday, April 27, 2021

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“But this copy doesn’t really sound like me”

If you know how to find your client’s brand voice…

You’ll never have to hear those words again.

This is the episode where special guest Nicola Moors walks you through how to reverse-engineer your way to finding your client’s brand voice.

And she even shares what tools you should use to help you get there…

So you’ll know EXACTLY how to nail your client’s brand voice every time.

Join us right here.

If you know how to find your client’s brand voice…

You’ll never have to hear those words again.

This is the episode where special guest Nicola Moors walks you through how to reverse-engineer your way to finding your client’s brand voice.

And she even shares what tools you should use to help you get there…

So you’ll know EXACTLY how to nail your client’s brand voice every time.

Join us right here.


Introduction [00:00]

Joanna Wiebe: We are about to talk about finding your client’s brand voice. It’s a tricky one. And that’s why I’m not teaching it. Because it’s very, very tricky. I think I’m okay at mimicking. But I’m really interested, today we’re going to hear today about brand voice, how to get there.

And what’s most interesting to me is the reverse engineering part. Are you ready to take it away and tell people what’s up?

What to Expect in Today’s Tutorial [00:40]

Nicola Moors: Always. Hi everybody. Welcome to today’s Tutorial Tuesdays. So I’m going to share with you my process to reverse engineer voice so that you can file copy that sounds just like your clients.

Now is a bit of a meaty topic. So I’m going to try and get through as much as I can, in the time, so I’m going to go fast. Before we sort of dive in, I want to ask a question. Who has heard this dreaded feedback, “This copy doesn’t sound like me.”

Joanna Wiebe: plus one if you’ve heard that. Everybody everybody is a yes.

Nicola Moors: And it’s frustrating right, because when you file that property to your clients, they’re not seeing how many hours that you spend researching that audience. They’re not seeing all the brilliant strategy ideas and the great conversion copywriting techniques that you’ve included.

They’re not seeing any of that because they’re stuck at the first hurdle. All they can think is, this copy sounds nothing like me. When they tell you that, because they don’t know what their voice actually sounds like.

So they can’t really tell you how to fix it and make it sound like them. So basically you feel frustrated, they feel frustrated and it leads to this. Okay joking aside, this is a serious topic.

So my mission, by the end of this training, is to make sure that you never hear that feedback ever again. There’s no more plus ones. There’s no more this company doesn’t sound like you.

And if you do hear that feedback, you’re going to have an action plan. You’ll know how you can tweak the copy, to change the voice. Or you’re able to defend it by using the tools I’ll share later on, you can defend what you’ve written versus what their voice actually is.

What Is Voice? [02:49]

Nicola Moors: Let’s do a quick breakdown of what voice is and what voice isn’t. Voice is your brand personality. It’s how your brand or your client’s brand or business communicates with the audience. And that is everywhere from emails, website, launch copies. Everywhere basically.

Wherever they’re talking to the client, that is brand voice. And that’s where you should be using it. Voice is actually how you talk. Now it gets often confused with tone and messaging.

Messaging is what you’re saying. Voice is how you’re saying it. And tone, again voice and tone often used interchangeably. But voice is actually what stays consistent throughout all of your branding.

Whereas tone will often change, depending on the context, who you’re talking to, what they’re talking about. And I’ll share more about that later on. Now, in terms of what makes up the voice, you’re looking at a few cool things.

And that’s tone, sentence length, language and then style as well. And those four actually came from the brilliant Abbey Woodcock and Justin Blackman. They’re incredible and they taught me that.

I’m going to break those down a bit further. But that is basically what we’re talking about when we’re talking about voice. Before I dig into who the heck I am, I want to ask you a question.

On my intake form, I asked all of my prospective clients, what is the problem with your copy and these are the answers that they could possibly give. Which one, do you think they tell me the most?

A) The copywriter couldn’t capture my voice. B) the copywriter didn’t understand my audience. C) The copy didn’t have any personal touches. Which is it?

Joanna Wiebe: Oh it’s a’s all around. A few b’s and c’s I think for people who have seen too many a’s.

Nicola Moors: I like that. Rebels. I like it. The answer is a. Good working out, there. I mean they do say all three of those things, but obviously today, we’re going to talk about voice.

Voice is actually the number one objection that I see, and a problem that business owners have while working with copywriters. Because even though you may be brilliant and use all of the great conversion copywriting techniques.

If that copy doesn’t hit the nail on the head and start the client. That copy is going to leave both of you feeling a little deflated.

About Nicola Moors [05:21]

Nicola Moors: So who the heck am I? My name is Nicola of Nicola Moors Copywriting. I’m a journalist turned launch copywriter. When I was a journalist, I worked at a press agency and we worked for dozens of publications.

And now, because all the complications, but basically had the same audience but they weren’t the same stories. But despite that, they actually had different voices and they had different styles.

When I started at the Agency, I wasn’t given a book and saying okay Nicola this is how this magazine writes. And this is how this newspaper writes. No, we had to figure it out ourselves.

So this is where my accidentally created process came in to actually copy the voice and style off the publications. And basically make sure that I filed copy in their style. The reason for doing that was to keep the editors hAppy. Because it made their lives easier and they’d want to work with you again.

Before I started my writing process, my voice mimicking ways started out when I was actually in high school. I don’t know if my mom knows this to be honest. But I used to forge my mom’s signature and write notes in her handwriting to get out of PA here, which is physical education.

Which I think you guys call it gym class. And so I would forge notes from her and then sign in her signature. But it was nothing criminal, it was very tame. And it worked. You know my teacher would believe these notes were from my mom and let me out of PA.

Me and mom have very similar handwriting. It’s very big, loopy and disjointed. Now, if the writing had been off, or if I used a different language that my mom might not use, like teenage slang, for example.

And the teachers would have noticed that something was up and probably make me go to PA. But they didn’t. So that is sort of having nuanced voice is and sometimes you’ll just pick up that something’s not right, we want to say what it actually is. Anyway, that is how I started doing it when I was in high school.

Because I got this process from sounding like my clients. I can basically sound like anybody. Although I can’t do accents. I don’t have to do accents because I am the worst.

Now I’m going to show you some examples of copy that I’ve actually written for my clients. I’m going to show you some samples and sort of digging slightly into how these voices are different and and sort of the different styles that we used.

Examples of Voice [08:03]

Nicola Moors: First client, a Puerto Rican mom who grew up in Brooklyn. Now I’ve got some samples of the copy here that I worked for her. As you can see, she has a super bold voice.

There was lots of slang, lots of swearing, lots of emojis. I’m not going to read this out because, again I can’t do accents and I just sound like an idiot, But if you read this out loud in your head, you will get a sense of what her voice actually is.

Now her sentences are fairly short. If you didn’t, she’s used italics to really emphasize the swear word. And what’s really emphasized, you get the humor that’s being pushed across. Not only that, but we’ve got a capitalization again to emphasize words.

So again, this brand voice is super, super fun and really sassy. One of the ways that we did that was by keeping the sentences quite short. When sentences are short, we’re going to keep the pace up and makes the voice faster. And can make the voice of it sassier as well.

The next client is a Canadian middle aged male doctor. This doctor was actually helping men with low sex drive, so I really had to sort of take that persona on, not literally. With this voice, he’s a doctor and he wants to have a much more serious tone.

So, if you look at the language, the words and the grade level is much higher. There’s lots of long words here, the sentences are really long and we’ve got lots of action.From a conversion copywriting perspective, looking back at this, I definitely could have optimized it before my voice perspective.

This is really interesting how you can change the voice, based on the language and the sentence length. So again, lots of action packed words, the sentences are really long and we’ve kept the tone quite serious.

The last client here is an introverted, yoga-loving entrepreneur. Now she was really in touch with her audience. She got quite vulnerable with them. And again, the sentences that she used are also quite long, but the and the words are actually fairly long as well. But they’re much softer than the doctor.

She’s using lots of references like and I like matcha and barley and things that her audience would relate to. This client and the last client their voices are in terms of the parameters, with the tools I’ll show you later on, are fairly similar. But because of the difference in tone, that’s what creates the different voices.

Why You Should Care About Voice [10:49]

Nicola Moors: Why should you as a copywriter care about voice? Firstly, you can wow your clients. So the fact that my business is basically referral based, I think it’s probably 90% referral based.

Is because I can take on any client’s voice, copy them and make their lives much easier. They don’t have to edit me, they don’t have to train me, and so it just makes life much easier.

And it also means that, and jo don’t at me, but I don’t have to specialize in a niche or anything like that. I can sort of work for whoever I want.

Joanna Wiebe: I think that’s good. No, I think that’s great.

Nicola Moors: Awesome. I don’t niche down because I could literally work for anybody. And there were certain industries that I don’t particularly enjoy writing for, so I won’t take that work on, but on the whole. I don’t need to niche down.

Secondly, I can charge much higher fees than other copywriters because of this voice process that I’m going to show you is baked into my backend. I don’t really need to put my clients through it.

But once they see the copy that I’m giving them, they can see the value of the work that I’m doing and the magic that I’m doing as well.Finally, the same process that I use to sort of mimic my client’s voice, you can use it to buy and sell brand voice guides.

And again, they can be an add on to a project, or you can do them as a standalone.

We’re going through this quite quickly but bear with me. Before we go into the process, I want you to write in the chat if you’ve ever felt like this before: Have you ever said to yourself, I am bad at voice or something like that?

Joanna Wiebe: A couple people raised their hands, some are chatting “yes,” just to us.

Others are saying no. That’s interesting.

Nicola Moors: Interesting. Well, the thing that I get asked the most is people saying to me, I’m really bad at voice. I don’t know how to do it, and I want to reframe that for you. And tell you that you are not bad at voice, you’ve just never been given the right tools to copy your clients.

How to Find Your Client’s Voice in 4 Steps [13:11]

Nicola Moors: So without further ado, we’re going to go into how to reverse engineer voice so step one, and this process is all steps.

Step 1 [13:26]

Nicola Moors: Step one: get three to five pieces of copy that’s been written by your client. Now I’ve underlined, written by a client because if someone else or a copywriter’s written it, it’s probably not going to be in their voice. Or something will be off.

So make sure your client’s written it. It could be a podcast, it could be recorded, as long as they’re sort of speaking freely. Just bear in mind, often written copy is much more edited than when people speak. But you can’t really edit vocals, but the more pieces of copy, the better. But start with at least three to five.

Step 2 [14:01]

Nicola Moors: And then you want to measure it. And I’m going to share the tools with you on the next slide so you can take a screenshot of those. So the free tools are Analyze My Writing, The Hemingway App and The Tone Analyzer.

So Analyze My Writing. What you’re going to do, you need about two sentences to really get an accurate data amount. And put that into Analyze My Writing, it’s going to tell you how long sentences are. One of the key features of voice, like I showed you before with the different clients.

How we can change the voice based on how long and short our sentences are. So, Analyze My Writing will tell you the sentence length, it will also tell you the punctuation that’s been used. It might say that you’ve used 40 commas per 100 sentences, for example.

Now the more commas that are used,the longer generally the sentences. Because about different sections to them so that’s what Analyze My Writing iis for. And by the way, with these tools, a good practice is to measure your own voice.

And then measure your clients and then you know how to tweak your voice to match theirs. For example, I write my emails in about eight words a sentence, so I write super short, super punchy.

But if I was going to be writing for Jo, for example, she might write her emails in six words on average per sentence. By knowing to cut my sentences down a little bit to match Jo’s voice.

And that’s not an analysis that’s just a guesstimate, but that’s basically how you would do it in terms of tweaking your voice to match your clients.

Then the next up is The Hemingway App. So this is going to tell you the grade level of your copy. Now often when a client comes to you and says this copy doesn’t sound like me. They’re probably going to be talking about the sentence length sounds off or the grade level sounds off.

And this is where you can measure the copy they’ve written and measure the copy that you’ve written. And actually show them and sort of defend what you do, and say okay this actually matches in terms of the grade level.

So Hemingway App tells you the grade level, so you know basically how simple or complicated the language that your client uses. It’s also going to tell you the sentence difficulty and whether they write in an active or passive voice.

Then, finally, which is probably the most exciting one and I’m not just saying that, it genuinely is. And this is The Tone Analyzer, and this is going to tell you the tone that is in the copy.

Now tone is really important. But you’ve got to take it in context and I’m going to give you a quick example. Yesterday, I actually analyzed an email that Jo sent out yesterday, talking about the Tutorial Tuesdays catch up of the last week about the last day launch emails.

And I analyzed it for the tones that she uses in that email, and she used two tones. And one of them really shocked me. I’m going to see if people can have a guess which two tones that Jo used. One of them took me by surprise. Let’s see if you can get it.

Joanna Wiebe: I Think everybody’s talking about the tools you’re using. I don’t know. I’m curious now. Angela would know better. People are guessing OK so maybe there are words here angry, serious joy, sarcastic, irreverent.

Nicola Moors: Joy was one of them. Okay, and the second one was fair. And you know the tools don’t lie, so I put the copy and I’m thinking wait a second I’m like, is Jo okay? She’s an authority on conversion copy, why does she have fair in her email when she’s talking about conversion copywriting?

And that is when you look at the context of the email, and so The Tone Analyzer actually shows you which sentences and used the tone and it gives you a gradient like so the darker color, the more the tone is there.

And, and where you’re using that theater is basically where you’re talking about you’re basically mirroring the audiences like fed back to them because people have a joy about the last day of cart close because the launch is nearly over.

But it’s also fair because they want to make sure they know how important those emails are and we want to make sure that they do a really good job. And there’s this fear they’re going to mess it up. So you are actually mirroring that fear back to them.

So this is where it’s really important that you look at the context when you’re using tones and your clients will be using tones in different ways and I’ll explain a little more about that in the next step.

Step 3 [19:02]

Nicola Moors: Once you run the company through those three tools, then you’re going to analyze the copy. And again, those three tools, they were taught to me by Abbey Woodstock and Justin Blackman.

And then this is all like my reverse engineering of the voice. So I go through the copy and analyze it or the style. What I mean by that is how are they using it? Italics, bold, do they use underlining? Do they use colors? Emojis? Swearing?

How do they use punctuation? Do they use punctuation? And you’re looking at what they do use and what they don’t use. So if we take this slide as a small sample of my style, for example.

Ideas underlined here to emphasize a point. I’ve used the Oxford comma. Very important. And I’ve used color to sort of contrast, and make a point about something. I’ve also used the numbers instead of the words. So that’s the sort of thing you want to be looking at. You want to make a note about those things.

Step 4 [20:01]

Nicola Moors: Step four is create a cheat sheet so when you’re analyzing it make a note of everything that you find and put into a Google Doc and reference this cheat sheet while you are writing copy for your clients.

Then you’ll look at the language. What phrases are they using and what language do they use? How are they talking about things? It’s amazing that you can sort of swipe according to your cheat sheet and key words.

One thing that I like to look for is a phrase that really sums up a client. And the only way I can describe it is when you’re going to mimic somebody, and whether it’s an actor or a famous person, whoever. Think of a phrase or something that they would say.

And I can’t think of any examples off my head, but whenever you think of any famous person, they will have that phrase, so that’s what you’re looking for with your client. What phrase do they use, and you can use as a buy-in to their voice.

And then you’re looking at content. So what references do they make? Do they reference pop culture? Do they reference family, personal details? Anything like that. You’re looking for context, so who are they arguing for or against?

What are they standing up for? That is super important because, again that’s going to sort of tell you where the tones come in, and that is going to be where the trones change.

And you know, are they on the same side as their customers? Some people aren’t. And then another thing that you can look at when doing brand voice is this, not that. So, for example, you can say my voice is confident, not arrogant.

My voice is firm, but not brash. Stuff like that. So it’s really highlighting the differences so that when you are writing the copy, you know that you’re going to be sticking to one side, and not the other.

When you’re writing the copy for your client, think to yourself, this is my client’s voice, but would my client actually say this? Does this fit their voice? And do that so maybe with like the seven sweeps that Jo teaches, the eight one would be this. Would my client actually say this? And make sure that it really fits the brand voice of what they’re saying.

Summary [22:19]

Nicola Moors: And then the final slide So these are the three tools that I use when I’m writing copy with my clients and reverse engineering their voice. Now these tools are really important to use with my process. Because these tools will give you the parameters for the voice and sentence lengths, tones etc.

But what we’re not going to do is tell you how to actually sound like your clients. For example, we could have the same parameters, but we would still write in very different voices because we haven’t actually looked at what the language and the content and the context that the client is using. And then, these are the three tools, they’re free, they’re aligned.

Joanna Wiebe: Thanks everybody for attending today as well. Thanks Ange, as usual. And we’ll see you next week. Be sure to follow up with Nichola separately and everybody have a good rest of your week. Bye.

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