6 steps to finding your brand voice
Let’s say it’s the beginning of winter (assuming you live in the Northern hemisphere!) and you walk past a red billboard with a white polar bear, you could instantly recognise the Coca-Cola ad with the feeling of home, happiness, and celebration. When you grab a blue M&M you instantly hear the “cool” character whilst the red and yellow chocolate pebbles can exude wittiness and fun. Or when you see a Rolls Royce drive-by, you instantly connotate luxury. This shows people relate to brands on an emotional level and that is due to a distinct brand voice and personality.
So what is a brand voice?
A brand voice is that unique personality you spread across all of your communications. It allows your company to have a distinct voice so your customers won’t mistake you for others. Crucially the voice should be applied throughout your business to have a sense of consistency; ranging from social media posts, and email marketing, to even internal announcements; a consistent personality is key!
A strong brand voice creates such an impression that over 40% of consumers (Sprout Social Index 2022) found that memorable content played a significant impression in brand distinction, followed by distinct personalities, and compelling storytelling.
This article will delve into the six steps that can help you discover your brand voice.
1. Look within… at your mission and core values
The first and best way to harness your brand voice is to refer to your business’s mission statement or core values; you can then extract some of the tones of its personality. Explore this guide to identify and create your statement that will allow you to roadmap your company’s vision.
Once you’ve extracted some key characteristics from your core values and mission, try to describe the traits through three adjectives that can be thoroughly defined to cater to your brand personality.
- Excellence – experts, quality; “Our expertise and development of XYZ is at the core of our company.”
- Passionate – expressive, action-oriented; “we are passionate about X, and what we do.”
- Authentic – veritable, genuine; “our customers trust and rely on our credible XYZ.”
2. Find your audience, to find your (brand) voice
Who is your ideal customer? Are they decision-makers in business, creatives, or even children? Another great way to find your brand voice is to create your buyer persona, as it’ll influence your brand voice heavily.
Figure out who your target customer is and create content that will most likely relate to them. For example, if your brand sells high-end professional audio equipment, try to use concise, relevant words that capture the needs of sound engineers. Or, if you’re a brand selling surfboards in a beach town, try using colloquial terms that truly resonate with your customers. Lastly, don’t forget your voice must transcend; do not present it robotically or in a way that fades as trends change.
(Pictured below: a British bank, not traditional in its approach to communication)
3. List what you are & what you’re not (tone of voice)
Another way to formulate your brand voice is to find out what you don’t want the brand to be (and what you do want to be).
Collate a couple of statements, so you can find the variances of what your tone should and shouldn’t be.
- Our brand is not unimaginative
- Our brand is collaborative
- Our brand is technically excellent
- Our brand is not unfriendly
- Our brand is fun
Additionally, a “dos and don’ts” list helps your employees understand much more quickly what brand voice you intend to use. An example of Skype’s brand book shows that even as a VoIP company they rather use other, nonjargon or industry-heavy words when connecting with their audience.
4. Find the best content you already have
Sometimes the best inspiration is within. If your business has already been posting content, granulate further and see which posts resonate more with your followers. The content could be a research-based white paper, a post that had pop references or even a job ad that had great copywriting!
Find out what posts performed well, and apply that language all over your brand voice and ultimately throughout your business. Over 45% of consumers unfollow brands when irrelevant content is published so it’s good to harness the best and double down on content that your customers will love reading.
5. Create a brand voice template
When you’ve finished defining what your brand voice is, formalise the process by transferring the core characteristics of your brand into a template that describes it, with some additional columns of dos and don’ts. This will create consistency of voice throughout the business. For example, “confident” can be a core characteristic; the brand voice template can clearly explain to your team that you don’t want “confident” to be translated as being a “know it all” but rather being “humbly knowledgeable”.
Click here for a blank template.
6. Finalise your brand guideline (and review it as you evolve!)
A crucial step once you have defined your brand voice and personality is to create a communications document. This will allow every aspect of the brand to be aligned within your team and is even a helpful tool for external consultants working on behalf of your business.
Below is the contents of what you should include in your guideline:
- Describe your business – along with your brand messaging, include your mission statement and core values.
- Add your brand personality – revisit our first point to see how you can create your personality, and convey it in the guide, allowing your team to understand how your content should be perceived.
- Complete your visual identity – include your brand logo(s), colours, and typography. Make sure your visuals are created to engage your audience and explain when to use certain variations (e.g. when to use primary and secondary colours).
- Tone of voice – revisit the third point and include your formulated brand tone, but ensure your design matches the visual tone of your business.
Finally, make sure you revisit your brand voice. At times, competitors swoop into the market making you want to revisit your brand perception, or through analysis, you may find key characteristics of voice may not be connecting well with your audience. It’s imperative that you revisit your brand voice frequently to consistently stay in touch and appeal to your audience.
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