Brand Security


Our flagship client McAfee invited us earlier this month to participate in an exclusive writing workshop designed to better communicate the company’s brand promise. The practical tips and guidelines imparted during this session inform good writing for any technology brand.

When it comes to effective brand communication, McAfee gets it.  And it’s gratifying  to learn that we, as a writing service, share the same philosophy when it comes to creating content that engages readers and gets them to take action.

It begins with the “brand”, which means that it all starts with an understanding that your first responsibility as a content-generator is fidelity to the brand you’re writing about. To stay true to whatever it is that your client’s brand is promising to its buyers is your first obligation. To bend the rules is to break that faith. To over-promise and under-deliver is poison to any brand, all the more if you compete in a technology category where your product’s performance is central to your customer’s business operations.  As the chief steward or keeper of the brand promise, the writer has nothing less than a fiduciary responsibility to keep asking the right questions designed to keep the content honest – and by extension, trustworthy.  This may not always make you a favorite in product-management quarters, but anything less does a disservice to the brand over the long haul.

As it often turns out, it’s the folks inside the company who inadvertently put the bending pressure on the content they’re trying to create for this or that project. They want to stretch the truth. They want to make bolder claims. They want to disparage the competition.  They want to do those things that put the brand promise at risk. Quality control in these instances has multiple meanings and it’s the writers who must wear the QC mantle. It’s not about just ensuring readability and correct grammar, but strict fidelity to the voice of the brand.  At Write Angle, we “QC” the content by commencing every project with a set of questions that begin by simply asking for the project’s primary purpose and conclude with a request for the three, key takeaways the project team wants to imprint on their reader.  For what it’s worth, it’s all pretty consistent with the McAfee approach.  How does your process compare?

  • What’s the thesis of the document being considered and why should the reader care? State why this is topical at the moment and give an example.
  • Describe the competitive environment.  Specify the trends influencing buyers. Describe a few user problems (the more compelling the better) that set the stage for our offering(s).
  • What core positioning statement do we want woven throughout the copy and how can we make it as relevant as possible to the reader?
  • What do we need to say about our technology to clearly mark competitive advantage and its place at the cutting edge of the category?
  • How can we substantiate our claims, e.g., where’s the beef of verifiable metrics?
  • What other prestige brands are involved with us as allies and partners?
  • What are the three absolute, gotta-have impressions we want to leave on the reader?

So what you doing to protect your own brand?  How are you ensuring that your marketing efforts stay true to what you product promises?

(This post originally appeared in The Write Stuff, the blog of content development service Write Angle Inc.

  1. When motivational speaker Joel Weldon came to Apple back in the day, he said “promise a lot, deliver more”. That’s the key, I think, for product marketers. If they start by writing the ad (promising a lot), they have to make darn sure to deliver on the promise, and more.

    We’re all so proud of our products and so involved with them, there’s a strong temptation toward hyperbole. Marketing writers have to be the conscience, making sure we don’t step over the edge and poison the brand. Great article!

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