An authentic brand voice is critical for businesses attempting to reach audiences online. Here are a few steps you can take to establish yours.
If your brand name or logo didn’t appear on your messaging, could a viewer tell it’s a message from your brand? Does your content on different channels, offline and online speak in the same unique brand voice?
What is brand voice?
Your brand voice is the distinct temperament that comes across in its conversations with its audience. Imagine going through your day is like a speed-dating session. Meeting one brand after another. The quick chats tend to all seem the same, unless one person is more memorable because they’re great at getting your attention, and sharing their stories in a unique way.
Whether it’s the words they choose, the tone they take, or the way they say it, all of these factors combine to make a personality or voice that sticks with you. When you recall the story they told you, you’ll remember exactly how they told it. That speed-dating aficionado is a business that has its unique brand voice set.
If your brand were a person, who would it be? What personality traits would they have? Which attributes would they definitely not have? How would their style come across? Are there words or phrases they often use or completely avoid?
All these idiosyncrasies combine to create a brand voice. This should reflect everywhere your brand might speak to its audience, whether it’s your website, a newsletter to employees, on social media, emails, or advertising.
The infinite scroll on social media makes posts all start to look and feel the same. Emails in your inbox start to blur into one another, and you can’t tell one brand’s content from another. That’s why keeping your brand voice consistent and steady in an overwhelming flood of digital messaging that your audience receives every day is particularly important.
The best way to overcome the noise is to find a strong, unique voice that is instantly relatable and unmistakably recognizable as your unique brand — and then stick with it.
The question is: How do you find your brand’s voice?
Unlike other marketing tools, there isn’t a set formula to building your brand’s voice, nor is it set in stone once you do. Like a person grows and evolves, and their personality changes as they do, your brand voice too should evolve as your business grows.
But to get started here are a few steps you can take, to get to the heart of your brand and draw out its unique voice.
Imagine your brand as a person
Your brand voice is all about personality, which is a wholly human attribute. So if your brand were a person, a celebrity, or a public figure, who would it be?
Would it be Barack Obama — confident, intelligent, and charismatic? Perhaps it’s more like Johnny Depp Bold — funny, creative, and good-looking, with just a touch of mystery? Or maybe a combination of the two?
Once you have the person (or persons) in mind, it’s easy to pick a few adjectives that describe them, and your brand voice. The tricky part here is to restrict those adjectives to just 4 or 5.
One way to do that is to consider who you’ll be talking to.
To define your brand voice, study your audience.
To get your brand voice right, and to have your audience tuned right in, it’s important to listen and learn from your audience. And that can happen when you open channels to have two-way conversations with them.
Find out what your reader wants to see, and what they care about. Understand their interests, and what makes them tick. Your brand voice should come across as a familiar, natural partner to your target audience. Hearing your voice should make them see your brand as a person they could get along with, and build a long-lasting relationship.
Make them the hero of your communications, and the easiest way to do that is to speak from their perspective. Your audience wants to know what’s in it for them, not you.
To define your brand voice, understand your brand
Setting up a distinctive brand voice involves thinking about abstract questions about your brand. Ask yourself why you chose to create your business and brand? How do you want your customers to feel when they interact with your brand? What are the values your business is built on?
When you have the answers to these questions, the defining adjectives for your brand voice will choose themselves.
You can also take inspiration from existing brands, the ones you like, as well as those you definitely don’t want to be like. Ask what brand voices you like and your audience will relate to and choose examples of brand voices that won’t work for your audience too.
Expand your brand voice definition and create guidelines
When you have the adjectives you’ve selected to define your brand voice, the next step is to expand each word a little more. Add a short description of how each adjective you’ve chosen. For example, if one of your adjectives is ‘helpful’ describe how that might come across in your messaging. Is your version of helpful a confident authoritative bible of advice, or is it more of a mentor relationship where you guide your audience to discover and learn for themselves?
Another thing you could do is define what you’re not. Try using your adjectives to fill in the first blank in this sentence, and choose an adjective that describes what your brand voice is not to fill the second blank.
“We’re ___ , but we’re not ____ .” For example, “We’re funny, but not sarcastic.”
Next, define dos and don’ts for each adjective, to describe how each trait should and shouldn’t be represented in brand voice.
Lastly, don’t forget, your brand is a living breathing thing, and it’s alright to revise it multiple times to fit your business as it grows and evolves. As your business and offerings grow, as the market changes, competitors pop up or disappear, and your customers evolve, your brand voice should keep up with these changes while staying true to itself.
Your online presence could do with a well-defined brand voice.
Clearly defining your brand voice will allow you to showcase your business in a way that appeals to the audience you want to reach.
We invite you to schedule a 15-minute conversation with us to understand how your business can benefit from a strong unique brand voice.
We’ll learn more about your business, and guarantee you’ll walk away with some great tips on how to maximize the return on investment on your communications with a unique brand voice.
Pick a time that works for you.
Schedule time to review your current situation with us and discuss possible ways to optimize your brand experience to overcome your business challenges and reach your goals. Even if you choose not to use us, you’ll walk away with some great ideas to implement in your business today.