Imagine you visit a website, and in the middle of purchasing a new lawn mower, a Spice Girls song began. How embarrassing would it be? How distracting? That’s not the voice or personality of your site!
That’s exactly what happened in the February 19th closing Broadway performance of Chicago. The female lead playing Roxie Hart broke character. Mel B, the former Spice Girl playing Roxie Hart, stopped mid-scene to sing a line from the Spice Girl’s hit song Wannabe.
The audience cheered, the show went on, and plenty of press and Broadway regulars weighed in. Most agreed that the break was unnecessary, unwarranted, and unprofessional. I would argue it was worse than unnecessary or unprofessional. I believe it ruined the experience for most audience members.
Your Website’s Voice
The first time I heard the phrase “content strategy” was in a UIE talk by Kristina Halvorson. She showed some examples of pages from the Ben and Jerry’s website, with its well-defined brand voice, and then one page with a completely different type of language: a legal, formal, un-Ben-un-Jerry voice. She showed us how important it is for a website to sound consistent.
The way you create consistency is by developing a brand voice. The voice, and associated tones, are like the elements of a play. They all work together to bring the audience into a certain frame of mind. When done well, that voice is a recognizable aspect of your website, and it contributes greatly to the audience’s experience.
Don’t Let your Website Break Character
Personally, I’ve seen actors break on occasion, due to a prop malfunction or an audience interruption. It’s not funny, the way it is when SNL cast members break – in fact, it upsets the context and fluidity of the show. Sometimes it’s actually wonderful. If something goes wrong and the actors are so in-character that they’re able to go with the flow and fix the error, no one’s the wiser unless you’d memorized the script (guilty as charged).
Your web presence should be equally strong. If the brand voice is clearly outlined and well understood, copywriters, social media managers, and content marketers will be able to improvise on Twitter or in customer service situations, without ever breaking character.
Don’t be Scary Spice.