Why You Need Solid Brand Voice Guidelines BEFORE Using ChatGPT (or Hiring a Ghostwriter)

ChatGPT interface.

Content marketing is a great way to get your health and wellness business noticed online. However, sometimes creating the blogs or video scripts you need to drive your marketing engine is just one more thing that you can’t give the attention it deserves. If this is the situation you’re in, you might be thinking about using ChatGPT or hiring a ghostwriter to create content for your brand. But before you go too far down either of these paths, I want to make sure you have the best results possible and that means you need brand voice guidelines.

Brand voice guidelines can help make sure your brand’s messaging is clear, consistent, and distinctive. If not, you may risk diluting or confusing your brand identity and wasting your time with ChatGPT or worse, your investment in ghostwriting.

What exactly are brand voice guidelines?

Brand voice guidelines are a set of principles and rules that define your brand’s tone of voice, personality, values, and preferences. They provide guidance on how to apply them to different types of content and contexts.

Brand voice guidelines serve several purposes, such as:

  • Ensuring consistency.

    They help make sure your brand messaging is consistent across all channels (e.g., your websites, email, and social media) and platforms (e.g., a specific website, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube). This consistency helps your audience recognize and trust your brand voice.
  • Differentiating your brand.

    Brand voice guidelines help to differentiate your brand from your competitors. It defines your unique and authentic voice which should resonate with your target audience in addition to reflecting your brand’s values and goals.
  • Empowering your team.

    Your brand voice guidelines provide a clear framework for ChatGPT, a ghostwriter, or your team to create content that aligns with your brand’s vision, mission, and identity. They’ll reduce the risk of misinterpretation or errors.
  • Enriching your content.

    They can inspire a ghostwriter to experiment with different tones, styles, and formats of content that fit your brand voice and engage your audience in meaningful ways. (NOTE: ChatGPT isn’t much for creativity. You need to tell it what you want before it can create it for you.)

Now, let’s see why you need brand voice guidelines before using ChatGPT.

ChatGPT can create content based on whatever you ask of it. And that content reads as if a computer wrote it. In other words, it’s boring and has no personality.

However, you can train ChatGPT to write according to your brand voice guidelines. To do this you’ll need to tell ChatGPT what your brand voice guidelines are. Here’s an example of how you might do that:

Write a blog post about XYZ that uses encouraging language and has a casual tone.

In this example, the brand voice guidelines are “encouraging language and casual tone.” Your brand voice guidelines will be more detailed than this, but more on that later.

However, ChatGPT can pose some risks to your brand voice.

  • Duplicating your competitors.

    ChatGPT creates content based on what it has found online. It doesn’t think for itself and I highly recommend that you don’t just publish anything ChatGPT writes without editing it. In fact, it may produce content that sounds similar or identical to your competitors’ content. And when this happens you’ll get lost in the crowd and the ROI on your efforts will be next to nothing.

    I’ll often use ChatGPT to get a general idea in place, but then I edit the results to add depth and emotion to the piece.
  • Losing your authenticity.

    ChatGPT can’t truly understand your brand voice much less embody it. So the content it produces will be a $hitty first draft. I say this because the content it creates more often than not will sound artificial, forced, or inconsistent with your brand’s personality and style. And, yes, that’s even with training it to your brand voice guidelines. However, because you have trained it to your brand voice guidelines, the amount of editing you’ll need to do will be greatly decreased.

Why you need brand voice guidelines before hiring a ghostwriter.

A ghostwriter is a professional writer who creates content for you without being credited or acknowledged as the author. Ghostwriting can be a valuable service if you want high-quality, relevant content consistently produced but lack the time, skills, or resources to do it in-house.

Ghostwriting can also pose some risks, such as:

  • Misaligning your brand values.

    A ghostwriter who doesn’t understand or respect your brand values, tone, or audience may create content that contradicts or undermines your brand identity and reputation.

    For example, if your brand is known for being serious and professional, but your ghostwriter uses slang, humor, or emojis in your blog posts, you may confuse or alienate your audience.
  • Duplicating your competitors.

    Just like ChatGPT, a ghostwriter can wind up making you sound like everyone else. This is more likely to happen when they rely on generic or overused content templates or strategies.

    For example, if your brand is about coaching, but your ghostwriter copies and pastes articles from other coaching blogs without adding your brand’s unique perspective or insights, you’ll likely lose credibility and authority in your niche – not to mention being at risk for charges of plagiarism.
  • Losing your authenticity.

    Just as ChatGPT can’t truly understand your brand voice much less embody it. A ghostwriter can have the same problem and produce subpar content. For example, if your brand is known for being passionate and empathetic, but your ghostwriter writes in a detached or clinical tone, you may lose the emotional connection with your audience.

How can you develop solid brand voice guidelines before outsourcing your content marketing?

The most effective way to minimize these risks and maximize the ROI on your outsourcing is to have brand voice guidelines in place.

These are the basic steps you need to take to develop your guidelines:

  1. Define your brand’s identity and values.

    To create meaningful guidelines, you first need to clarify your brand’s vision, mission, and values. By having this clarity, you’ll be able to describe how they’re communicated in your brand’s voice.

    To help you get the clarity you need, ask yourself questions such as:
    • What’s your brand’s purpose and why does it matter?
    • What are your brand’s core values and how do they shape your messaging?
    • Who’s your target audience and what do they care about?
    • What’s your brand’s tone of voice and personality, and how do they differ from your competitors?
    • What’s your vision for your brand and how does it inform the way your brand needs to communicate?

By answering these questions, you can create a foundation for your brand voice guidelines that align with your brand’s identity and values and set a clear direction for your ghostwriter.

  1. Research your audience and competitors.

    Once you have a basic understanding of your brand’s identity and values, it’s time to more thoroughly research you need to research your audience and competitors with the goal of identifying what does and doesn’t work in your industry.

    You’ll want to ask yourself questions such as:
    • Which trends and topics are your ideal clients interested in?
    • What are your target audience’s aspirations and pain points?
    • Which strengths and weaknesses do your competitors’ content have?
    • What are the gaps and opportunities in your niche?
    • What are the gaps and opportunities in your niche?

By answering these questions, you can create a benchmark for your brand voice guidelines that reflects your audience’s preferences and expectations and differentiates your brand from your competitors.

  1. Create brand voice guidelines.

    Based on the insights you’ve gained from the previous two steps, now you’re ready to create your brand voice guidelines. You’ll want to be sure they cover the following key features:
    • Tone of voice

      What’s the overall tone of your brand’s messaging? How does it vary depending on the context and audience?

      For example, is your brand’s tone formal, friendly, authoritative, or conversational? What kind of language, vocabulary, and grammar should you tell a ghostwriter or ChatGPT to avoid?
    • Personality

      What are the main personality traits that define your brand’s voice? How do they reflect your brand’s values and goals?

      For example, is your brand’s personality energetic, helpful, funny, or sophisticated? What types of analogies, metaphors, or anecdotes can ChatGPT or a ghostwriter use to convey your brand’s personality?
    • Style

      What are the visual and textual elements that contribute to your brand’s style? How do they create a consistent and memorable brand image?

      For example, what kinds of fonts, colors, images, or logos should be used or avoided? What kind of formats, structures, or headlines should your ghostwriter follow?
    • Content guidelines

      What are the topics, formats, and goals of your content? How do they serve your ideal clients and their goals?

      For example, what are the keywords, topics, and themes that your ghostwriter or ChatGPT should focus on or even avoid? What calls-to-action do you need in each piece of content? What are the metrics you’ll use to evaluate the performance of each piece of content?
  1. Train and evaluate your ghostwriter or ChatGPT.

    Now that you have your detailed brand voice guidelines, it’s time for training. You need to teach ChatGPT or your ghostwriter to apply your guidelines effectively and provide feedback on their efforts.

    Here are some tips to help you with training and evaluation:
    • Provide examples and feedback on your guidelines. And for a ghostwriter, you’ll also want to explain the why’s of the guidelines.
    • You’ll also want to supply a ghostwriter with a specific contact who can answer questions and provide guidance.
    • Before you publish anything, you’ll want to review it so you can provide constructive feedback and suggestions for improvement.
    • As with any content, you’ll want to look at the metrics. How do the pieces you’ve farmed out stack up to the results you had when you were creating all of the content? By knowing this, you’ll be able to adjust your strategy to better meet your needs.

To make sure you’re getting the most out of your content outsourcing, you need to have solid brand voice guidelines. Before I understood this, I asked several ghostwriters to create pieces for me. I didn’t supply them much besides a link to the website I wanted content for so they could intuit what the brand voice was. I was lazy. And my laziness cost me time and money because I had to rewrite from scratch most of the articles.

Luckily, I learned my lesson and now when I hire a ghostwriter or use ChatGPT to create content for any of my brands, I have brand voice guidelines. And the content I get back usually requires only minor edits which saves me time and money.

By taking the time to define your brand voice guidelines, and training and evaluating the content you ask to be created, you’ll be able to successfully outsource much if not all of your content creation.

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Karen Finn, PhD