To bae or not to bae, that is the question I seem to be hearing a lot these days. Just this morning, I was listening to a Marketing Profs podcast where they talked about the need to talk to your customers in the same voice the customer uses. Yet, just yesterday, I read a Digiday article about how brands are using young people slang like "bae" and "fleek" only to come off sounding like your dad trying to be "hip" and down with the kids. So which is it?
The real answer is that you need to talk to your customers in a way that is easy to relate to, but in one that is also authentic to your brand. Digiday article went on to point out that that kind of slang may be acceptable to teen oriented brands like Taco Bell, but not so much for a brand like Staples. And while, I can see a teen brand like Mountain Dew talking that way in their social and marketing efforts, I think it only works if you always talk like that and it really is apart of your brand DNA.
There are so many touch points with your customers these days, it is important that communication from your brand feels authentic – both to who you are talking to and to who you are. Trying to force a brand voice that isn't true to who you are as a brand will not only come off false, it undermines the very trust you're trying to build with the very audience you're trying to relate to.
This doesn't mean you can't customize your brand voice to your audience and have multiple voices – they just all have to be true to who you are. Recently, we were working on putting together an RFP (Request for Proposal) for potential new business. The first draft was nearly done when they ran it buy me. I felt that the voice was not right. It contained a lot of high-end gobbly-gook language I didn't feel was appropriate for this audience.
It's not that the voice wasn't authentic to Yaffe. We actually have plenty of people in our Houston office who do heavy duty research and consulting for some global brands who talk just like that – and it's very appropriate for the audiences they are talking to. However, it seemed out of character for this particular audience. It's not that they aren't sophisticated enough to understand it or couldn't use those services. But I've met them and I know how both they and the Yaffe people here talk to each other. Our brand needs to be one that is smart and able to build confidence in our ability to improve their business. But it also needs to represent the human interaction between the humans on both sides of this equation.
That's what's important for your brand. Make sure you speak to your audience in an authentic way that feels the same as if you were sitting down together to solve whatever need your brand delivers for the client or customer you are talking to. You can change the voice according to your audience, but it still needs to feel like it's coming form the same person. Think of it this way. You would talk differently to your best friend, your doctor and at the interview for your next job. But it would still feel authentic to who you are. Your company or brand's voice should do the same.