Search
  • Freya Deabill

We or I? Are you using the right pronoun in your brand language.

...WITH EXPERT GUEST JEN FEROZE OF JACKDAW EDITORIAL


A simple but juicy one for you today, all about choosing the right way to refer to yourself when writing or talking about your brand / business { there is of course a whole load more I could say about 'brand language' but there is something in the pipeline for this with the incredible Jen Feroze from Jackdaw Editorial! } So this is a short term win to review and implement across all your platforms right now without a complete overhaul.


Why is it important? Trends are ever changing and 10 years ago I myself used to refer to myself in the third person, 'we, our, us' trying to make my business seem 'bigger and better' and more 'corporate'. However as small businesses became more niche and popular with platforms such as Etsy and Not On The High Street, the power of the Solopreneaur has sky rocketed. Larger corporations have become bigger, their customer service has been stretched and their personal connection to their client base has diminished. Gone are the days where you could quickly pick up the phone and talk to the actual person making or selling your product instead of the centralised office where a bored salesman or even worse an automated bot answers the call. You never feel really connected or appreciated, you are just another order on the books. Fine if you are buying another round of washi tape from Amazon, but not so magical if you are buying your once in a lifetime wedding dress or much anticipated one on one cooking session with a top chef for example!


In a small business (or any other business where you offer a service or niche product) a connection with your customers is key, and the experience you give your customers and clients is essential to repeat custom or referrals. And the best way to do this is by being YOU and sharing YOUR STORY. Really let people connect on a personal level with YOU. This will build their relationship, opinion and therefore loyalty to you and your brand. You want to make your customers know how much you appreciate and love their support, custom and orders. Its all about showing them your happy dance every time an order pings through on your messages. That in turn makes THEM feel special and recognised.

So - are you the only person behind your business / brand or is there a team?


IS IT REALLY THAT SIMPLE?


We wiː | pronoun [first person plural]

used by a speaker to refer to himself or herself and one or more other people considered together: shall we have a drink? used to refer to the speaker together with other people regarded in the same category: nobody knows kids better than we teachers do. people in general: we should eat as varied and well-balanced a diet as possible.

Pro’s; ~ a wealth of experience from a well oiled team ~ the opinion the business is successful enough to employ others and will have good systems in place to deal with your order ~ an authoritative approach / backed up

Con's; ~ You are distanced from the face of the brand ~ A more impersonal approach ~ Harder to gain a connection ~ A client may feel like another tick in a box and not a valued client


I | ʌɪ | pronoun [first person singular]

used by a speaker to refer to himself or herself: accept me for what I am.


Pro’s; ~ you get the vip treatment by dealing with the face of the brand / business directly ~ you are getting a personal and personaliZED service ~ supporting a small / local business ~ easy to gain a personal connection and loyal followers ~ oozes truth and authenticity Con's; ~ Some people may think you don't have wider systems to deal with things that may go wrong ~ The worry that you may be out of action / on holiday and they won’t be able to get through to you ~ Some people shy away from physical / personal connection and struggle with one on one interaction

Have a think about which fits your brand best. Will your client or customer be able to connect directly with 'you' if they need to get in touch or will they be redirected to a team member - if you have been using I or Me in your language and then all of a sudden they are talking to Laura from sales then the magic of the experience can be quickly lost. Or are you indeed a business who work as a well oiled team, each member offering a wealth of experience and skill which comes together to create an incredible machine of fabulousness? In which case the power of mixing all those personalities and skills together is seriously worth shouting about.



Are you the face of the brand but have a small team backing you up?

This is a more tricky one, but can be easily resolved or curated. For example set a system in place so all the social media and newsletters which go directly to your clients inboxes and devices be from you - the name behind the business - written by YOU in the first person (I, me) so your customers can connect with you on a one to one basis and get the vip experience. Then other systems or interactions within the business along with the more general website, use We or Us - maybe the sales team / fitting team / other team members or general seasonal offers and sales campaigns. The business are the task force and are definitely a royal 'We'. Then your clients get the best of both worlds... the personal approach and the well oiled team - but remember to follow the system and be consistent in this messaging as it can quickly become confusing.


And remember, theres no point in sounding like you are a 'team' if its just you and your cat Mel.

DON'T JUST TAKE MY WORD FOR IT...

I am lucky enough to be working with the incredible Jen Feroze from Jackdaw Editorial with one of my current clients and here are some words of wisdom from someone who knows everything there is to know about GREAT brand and web copy…


"Thanks for having me, Freya! Before we go any further, let me first say that this is not a roadmap to apply to any and all situations. Your business is nuanced and unique, and, as with every tiny element of branding and voice, there's no failsafe 'one size fits all' solution. However, it is, as Freya rightly says, something worth thinking about that can be a quick win in terms of the way your clients see you.

OK. Onward!"


The WE voice

Think about your business in terms of its 'About' page. Am I meeting you as one person and hearing your origin story, or are you introducing me to your founding members and showing me the way your team has grown and flourished in line with your values? Even if you sometimes or regularly work with other people, if you're the heart of your business and your About page is about you, then a 'we' voice as standard on your website is likely to add distance and put unnecessary barriers up between you and your client. I understand that you want to sound professional, but don't accidentally put on an invisibility cloak with your choice of pronoun and make it that much harder for your clients to connect with you. If, however, your team and the skills you each bring to the table is one of the fundamentals of what makes your business so special, then the 'we' approach is a right and natural fit.

The I voice

In the vast majority of cases, when working with solopreneurs and small businesses I tend to advise people to go with the first person voice. Yes, it requires a bit more vulnerability, but it also creates a feeling of intimacy between you and your client. The more opportunities you give your readers to connect with you as a human being, as well as a provider of awesome products or services, the more likely they are to feel comfortable enough to hit that enquiry button.

Can I use both?

Yes, as long as you do it with purpose. If 'I's and 'we's are sprinkled interchangeably across the site with no explanation, then you risk confusing me and losing me as a reader. If you're opting for the first person 'I' voice as your main one, but working with a team forms part of your process, tell me about it and make it make sense: EG: 'When the big day arrives, I work with a talented team of freelancers to set up your venue in record time and make sure everything comes together as planned. We'll carve ice sculptures / perform daring trapeze artistry / play the nose flute with flair and panache' etc etc. If you've decided that you want the third person 'we' voice to take centre stage on your site, but you want to allow bursts of individual personality to shine through, introduce me to some of your team members and give them space for a voice of their own. EG: 'Meet the Muppets! We're a madcap bunch of furry friends ready to cause chaos at any given opportunity! Over the years we've taken Manhattan, tackled Treasure Island and run rings around Michael Caine. Here are some words of wisdom from our fuzzy founder: Hi folks, Kermit the frog here. I once said 'it's not easy being green', and rather than let it get me down, it inspired me to embrace the rainbow connection and find colour in all aspects of my life and work.' etc etc Picking the right pronoun for your business might not seem like a big deal, but it forms one of many tiny, stealthy ways that you can control the atmosphere you create with your brand and influence the way your clients view you.


WOWZER...

Thanks Jen, incredibly clear words of wisdom there { I expect nothing less! haha } and that about wraps up the 'We or I' debate. Incase you are struggling with which to go for, why not head over to insta and leave a comment on this blog post on my grid and I will take a quick squiz for you :)


Onwards and upwards my friends, onwards and upwards x

....

#TSBC #TheSmallBusinessChronicles #thebrandnewstudioltd #smallbusinesssupport #smallbusinessbranding #powerofapronoun #inotwe #noiinteam #meandmel