How do you create and maintain the voice of one of the world’s most well-known (and emotionally charged) global brands? eBay content strategists DeAnn Wright and Angela Boodoo (who lost her voice before the session) shared how eBay methodically went about defining standards that could be used across the business during a case study session at Content Strategy Applied 2012.
The team surveyed customers to learn how they perceived eBay’s voice and tone, finding that there were differences in those perceptions depending on markets.
Then, they set up “voice and tone” groups in the U.K., New York City and San Francisco. With these groups, they established mood boards, experience captures and word affinity maps to discover what experience they wanted users to have with the brand and “tease apart what the attributes were and were not.” Once eBay had those attributes, they tested how customers felt the attributes applied to eBay compared to competitors, and also worked to determine which attributes were the most important.
DeAnn talked about how eBay also needed to realy get to the bottom of what attributes such as “fun” and “friendly” really meant — and that they could mean different things for different brands. “What is friendly: are we their BFF, or are we just chipper?” DeAnn said. The team used content samples to support the qualities. They also applied voice attributes to different content types using a chart that explained when to dial up and dial down certain attributes (for example, “fun” may not apply to help content).
For attributes such as “friendly,” eBay also recognized that voice could only play so much of a role in establishing that: and that if the user experience isn’t friendly, the voice may feel superficial.
Once this was all complete, eBay developed a set of voice and tone guidelines that they planned to publish out online, rather than confining them to a PDF.
Finally, DeAnn talked about the need to make the evolution of the voice a natural one. “We’re having conversations with customers 24/7/365: we should be thinking about natural stages and feedback mechanism, getting proactive at eBay to get feedback from customers.”