One of the quickest ways to find the right tone of voice agency is to write an RFP. But what questions should you ask?
Most CMOs and Brand Directors define a brand’s verbal identity only once or twice in their career. So, choosing the right agency to create the brand voice is challenging.
Using an RFP to find and appoint your brand tone of voice agency helps your focus on the most important points – and can make the process 60% faster, in our experience. You just need to know the right questions to ask.
Having worked with every kind of company from start-ups to global brands, we think these are the 6 most important questions to put into your RFP.
And if you’re in a hurry, scroll to the bottom where there’s a downloadable template to help you when writing an RFP for a brand tone of voice agency.
- How will you make sure our brand voice impacts our wider business goals?
Every CMO and Brand Director (and every CEO, come to think of it) wants a brand voice that’s as differentiated and true to their business as their visual identity. But beyond that, will the time and effort you’re putting into creating a new brand voice drive business performance?
It should. It definitely should.
And it’s a good question to ask potential tone of voice agencies to see how business-orientated they are.
We always suggest you pick a mix of hard and soft metrics.
Hard metrics can focus on the consumers’ awareness of your brand and awareness of your brand’s values. You can also look to measure how your brand voice is affecting people’s perception of you as a thought leader.
Softer metrics include writer satisfaction – the happier your writers are, the longer they’ll stay with you and the less recruiting you have to do.
(And actually, if you can make your writers happier, why wouldn’t you?)
There are also some selective measures such as ‘time-to-publish’ and ‘cost-to-publish’. We talk about what KPIs you can track for your brand voice here.
- What specific challenges does the brand voice agency see with what you want to achieve?
No two businesses’ challenges are the same. So, no two brand voice creation projects can be the same either.
The success of a project depends as much on the skills of your partners as what their experience tells them will be needed to overcome the challenges ahead.
A healthy mix of realism and optimism helps!
- Does the brand voice agency have a proven methodology?
Today, a brand voice needs to work in multiple channels all the time. It can’t be defined the old way, with just 4 adjectives.
Here at Verbal Identity, our experience over the years has shown that every brand voice communicates on 3 levels. And we’ve created a specific verbal identity brand voice model – making it easier for writers to remember and use the brand voice.
Does the brand voice agency have a specific methodology and model? Does it make brand voice easier or harder to understand?
- Who’s in their team?
Don’t be seduced by the very big agencies. The hard truth is that you’ll only ever have 3 or 4 people working on your brand voice. I know this, because I worked in a big agency. If you go with a smaller agency, it’s more likely that the experienced agency seniors will be involved in your work. I know this, because I set up Verbal Identity to be good, not big.
Also, we always say that creating the guidelines is only 49% of any brand voice project. The bigger part of the project is training everyone in your brand voice. Does your agency have people with a background in writing who are also very good trainers? Can they share their workshop feedback scores with you?
What other case studies can they offer? Do those case studies come with results, or with long stories about what the tone of voice agency did?
- What relevant experience do they have?
We don’t think that industry experience should be a requirement for a new brand voice project. In fact, it sometimes makes the brand voice worse. Why? Because there’s a set of unspoken ‘rules’ in any industry about what can and can’t be said and how it can be said. Someone without industry experience can often question those rules, work with you to decide which can be broken, and in the process, create a distinctive brand voice for you.
- Always, always, include a discovery call as part of the RFP process
There are some fun TV shows about people picking a partner and getting married without ever meeting them. Fun to watch, scary as hell to take part in (I imagine).
Why would you put yourself through that when you’re finding the right brand voice agency? Instead, ask if they would like an hour’s discovery call. The way they ask questions and how interested they are in your business will show their scale of their thinking and their ability to create insights.