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Pay attention to the what of brand identity, not just the how.

When companies create a brand identity, they typically go through months of iterations, working with a creative agency to fuss with all the details of logos, colors, fonts, and layouts.

The supporting written content is normally produced last, and that’s when they bring in someone like me. By then the deadline is urgent and since it’s a rush job, the overall impact suffers.

Read the fine print

By now, the brand launch is ready with a detailed brand platform and exact content guidelines. But as the launch date looms, teams forget that the placeholder verbal content they’re using was created months ago for mock up. They haven’t taken even the first steps to finalizing the written copy.

Instead they’ve been using filler text, usually something known as lorem ipsum. Lorem ipsum is garbled Latin text, and designers use it for good reason. Since it literally says nothing, it won’t distract people reviewing layouts from the task at hand.

Here’s the problem.

Teams have been focused on look and feel for so long that they forgot about the words. They postponed because loads of written content already exist, and they imagine the writing will just be a quick refresh.

That’s a mistake.

By now your branding agency knows a lot about you, but writing the content isn’t their area of expertise. (And it’s not in the scope of work. Check the agreement). No matter how well they know your brand and its intention, most designers are not going to be able produce written content for you that’s credible.

If your new brand is calling for a new voice, it’s probably best to bring in some outside writers, at least for your first few pieces. They can serve as models and inspire imitators. But for your brand to have authenticity and resonate the way you hope, you need to thoroughly apply the tone of voice to the language of your business. Making that happen is going to require collaboration, thoughtful input, and time.

You need to get involved in written content.

I’ve written for re-branding projects where before I arrived, the model brochures, web pages, and catalogs all used the same placeholder copy. In one case it was a mid-range paper shredder. In another a high-tech drill bit. They were both easily understood, approachable, and written from the perspective of the end user. It was a great start.

But in each case, it was just a start. Each project ultimately needed to have hundreds of copy blocks, each just as strongly focused on end users. Over the course of the project, designers and copy writers may have heard a few other good examples, but we’re still not fluent in the language of your employees and customers.

If you leave it to us, without any help from your internal stakeholders, we’re likely to give you superficial, inauthentic verbal content. You may want your brand to demonstrate deep expertise, but the copy sounds so vague it could be selling anything from digital tools to toothpaste. And that puts your first impressions at risk.

The core of your content should come from your own experts, especially for launch. It doesn’t matter if their input is rough. As long as it’s factual and authoritative, a good writer can work with it and quickly revise it so that it’s singing the right tune.

Let the agency come up with the visuals. But do yourself a favor and don’t expect them to deliver to the entire book on what your new brand stands for. It’s up to a well-formed team — you, your most experienced people, and maybe a good writer — to finish the job.