Brands are most effective and notable when they have a unique, consistent and resonating voice that connects with their target audience. This voice is rooted in their implementations across platforms, in their public relations, in the communication with their followers on social media, and anywhere else they have a presence.
What is a Brand Voice?
A brand’s selection of images, their choice of partnerships and their use of language are all part of their voice. Any aspect of a brand that is visually or audibly available for customers to see makes up your brand’s persona and voice. The cultivation, implementation and management of that voice involves a thorough understanding of what the brand represents and also, what it does not.
Before you ever send your first email, write your first blog, or upload your first photo to social media, you must have a clear and defined idea of what your brand voice is, or should be. Your brand voice is, in essence, the personality of your business. Identifying this voice is essential to communicating with your audience; it lets your audience know who you are, and ultimately, why they should want to do business with you.
The Importance of a Brand Voice
Today’s market is extremely competitive. Customers have a wide selection of businesses to choose from. In order for your business to stand out from the crowd, you must have a brand voice that is clear and distinct. Your brand voice is what enables you to form a connection with your audience. You are in constant communication with your audience as a business; at any given moment, you are building new relationships, attending to existing relationships and responding to feedback. Your brand voice enables you to build trust and rapport with your audience. Your consistent voice empowers them to know what to expect from you and lets them know that you are a reliable source.
Types of brand voices
Your brand voice not only tells your audience who you are; it also tells them what you value. This is why choosing a voice is one of the most important decisions you will ever make for your business. The type of voice you choose must embody your values and remain true to them, even as those values evolve over time. Here are a few examples of the type of voice a brand may choose to have:
- The most complex style of writing; it is used for professional or academic purposes
- Composed of long sentences
- Helps to establish the writer’s respect for their audience
- Serious tone; avoids colloquialisms and the use of first person and second person
- Has elements of formal writing but includes a more relaxed tone
- Clear and concise – seeks to convey information or persuade
- Objective and respectful
- May use relaxed grammar, spelling and punctuation rules
- Makes use of the words “I” and “You” in communicating with the audience
- Used to relate to your audience, establish intimacy
- Witty, playful, intelligently persuasive
- Uses humor appropriately
How to identify the type of voice your brand should foster
What message do you want your current followers to take away from your brand? In order to determine that, you must first understand who your audience is. Studying demographic information for your followers can shed light on who they are and what they value. Having this information can help guide you in shaping the content you distribute. It’s important to spend time getting to know your followers so that you can truly understand what content will appeal to them.
Define your brand’s existing voice
There is a science to constructing your brand voice. Here are a few steps that can help you in developing it:
Gather a representative sample of your content
Gather a variety of content from your brand, from a variety of sources; this includes everything from web pages to social media posts to newsletters. When you examine this content, ask yourself which of those samples are truly unique and which of them could have come from any of your competitors. Save the pieces that you feel truly exemplify your ideal personality.
Describe your brand voice in three words
If your brand were a living, breathing human being, which three words would you use to describe their personality. How do those personality traits make your brand stand apart from anyone else?
Once you have selected those three adjectives, define them even further. Are these traits coming across in the content that you are creating?
Create a simple and easy-to-use chart
Include rows for each of the three characteristics you’ve identified, along with three columns. These columns should include detailed descriptions of your broad traits along with do’s and don’ts. This chart should be used to flesh out the terms so that they are clear and in no uncertain terms. For example, if you have chosen the word “authentic” as one of your brand voice traits, does that mean “dry and sarcastic” or does it mean “warm and emotional”? Leave no room for confusion or misinterpretation.
Sit down with your team and take time to thoroughly study the chart. Study real life examples of how these traits would play out in real life. Brainstorm how you might revise existing content to reflect your newly defined terms.
Revisit and revise the brand voice chart as the company changes over time
Your brand voice chart is meant to be a fluid instrument. You should revisit it over time and revise certain parts of it, as needed. Naturally, as your brand matures and evolves, some parts of your chart may no longer be relevant.
On a regular basis, it’s important to examine which parts of your message have not been working well. Is your team uncomfortable with implementing certain parts of your initial voice? If your team is unable to relate to your brand voice or unable to effectively speak the language of your chosen brand voice, it may be time to draft another chart.
While it can be challenging to determine how to make your brand stand out, it’s more important to create positive and memorable experiences that will make your followers want to stick around. By developing and remaining true to your brand voice, you make the business of creating positive experiences for your customers that much easier.
Determining which type of “voice” is best for your brand or organization is a decision we can’t make for you. Listen to your audience, learn how they communicate and like to be communicated to as it relates to the solution you solve, and utilize this information along with your company culture, mission and vision to develop your voice and narrative.