More Than Meets the Eye: Writing for Your New Brand

Graphic of a notebook page with the blog title, "More Than Meets the Eye: Writing for Your New Brand"

So, you’ve just finished rebranding. The logo is wow! The color palette, swoon. And your new company swag is actually worth wearing in public. But amidst the many, many conversations about unveiling your new look to the world, you may have run into an all-too-common challenge: writing about it.

After all, your brand is not only what you showcase to the world, it’s also about its positioning within the minds of your audience. What they say and think is just as critical as what you show.

Take control of that conversation by establishing the verbal elements of your brand.

While those design files may be burning a hole in your hard drive, your visual identity is not complete without a supporting verbal identity: a tagline to hook customers or members in, messaging to help them understand your offerings and an authentic tone of voice to keep them coming back for more. You may already have a solid verbal identity in place, but it is still a worthwhile exercise to assess your current stock in relation to your new brand. Is this language portraying who you want to be, or are you stuck coming across as who you’ve been?

Set the Rules

By incorporating verbal elements of your brand identity into your marketing efforts, you can build brand affinity that resonates deeper with your customers and withstands the passing of visual trends. In order to do so, consistency is key. Define the language early and share it with your communications team. These three elements of verbal identity are a great starting point:

Voice & Tone: Let your brand’s character shine. Determining the style of language you use and providing examples of when to use it will guide your team in how to talk the talk. For example, Rhyme & Reason takes a more playful and punny approach to our social copy and a more laid-back, professional vibe to our blog posts (is it coming across?); yet no matter the platform, our communications strive to be equal parts wit and wisdom.

Value Propositions: Short, sweet and oh-so-compelling language that gets to the root of what your company is all about. Two to three descriptive sentences written in your brand’s Voice & Tone should be enough to act as a foundation for writing just about anything. You may also find it useful to craft Value Propositions for any unique programs or events you offer.

Style Manual: Style guide, rule book, the end all, be all–whatever you want to call it–this document is your marcomm team’s greatest resource. From the conceptual, such as keywords to describe your V&T, your value propositions and supporting key messaging, to the technical: are we pro- or anti-Oxford comma? And especially for our fraternity and sorority partners: a glossary of abbreviations and when you should and should not use them, because we all know chapter and officer abbreviations quickly turn into alphabet soup for the uninitiated. When you’re not sure what to say or how to say it, consult the Style Manual.

All of these elements are often informed by the core principles of your company or organization’s identity. Your values, personality, and unique approach to customer service should all be considered when writing for your new brand.

Start Talkin’

We’ve got the fundamentals down and now it’s time to put pen to paper, or fingers to keyboards, and determine your verbal brand. To get the ball rolling, I recommend gathering a few key stakeholders (and maybe some pastries) and using any or all of the following prompts to spark your brainstorming. What you’ll end up with is a slew of adjectives and character traits to guide your voice.

    • Who is your target audience?
      • What do they like about us? Dislike?
      • Why do they care?
    • If your brand was a person, what would they be like?
      • What are their likes/dislikes, interests, hobbies, zodiac sign, etc.?
    • If your brand was throwing a party, what kind of party would it be?
      • Who’s on the guest list? Why?
      • Where is the venue? (Chic rooftop bar, house party, beachside campfire, etc.?)
      • What music is the DJ playing?
      • What’s the vibe? (Small & intimate, huge rager, etc.?)
    • If your brand was a superhero, what would their superpower(s) be?
      • What type of evil are they fighting? (Injustice, boredom, lack of access to resources?)
      • Who is their arch-nemesis? (And by that we mean, who is your primary competitor?)
    • What are three adjectives to define your brand voice? (One example is “funny.”)
      • Now pull out your thesaurus and find three synonyms you like to replace each of those words. (Three synonyms for funny could be: hilarious, witty or outgoing.) 
      • Take it one step further, find one synonym for each of those initial synonyms. (Hilarious: Entertaining. Witty: Clever. Outgoing: Sociable.)
      • You should end up with at least 21 adjectives that could describe your brand, but all convey very different characteristics. Circle the words that you like the most.


Visuals, Meet Voice. Voice, Meet Visuals.

Once you have honed in on your verbal identity, it is time to finally apply it in concert with your new visual identity. There are countless ways to marry the two in the early days of your brand launch: video and speaking scripts, social media captions, ad copy, eblast communications and so on. Don’t forget to maintain consistency by updating any pre-existing copy, such as throughout your website or in public-facing documents.

When you are as intentional about your verbal identity as you are about your visual identity, you are doubling down on establishing brand equity, which in turn will create stronger, more meaningful impressions in the minds of your audience.