Establish a Consistent, Authentic Brand Voice in 3 Steps
Your Brand’s Voice, Defined in 3 Steps
Without looking at the names on the incoming messages, would you be able to tell apart a text from your boss and your best friend? We’re betting yes. That’s because you’ve grown so familiar with their expressions, language and tone—everything that makes up their “voice”—that you can pick it out from a crowd without a second thought, even when you’re not actually hearing them speak. Now, imagine this: that same instant recognition, but for your brand instead. That’s what establishing a strong, consistent brand voice can do for your business or organization.
What Is Brand Voice? (and Why It Matters)
Your brand’s voice is how you consistently convey everything that makes up your brand to your external audiences. The key word here is consistently. Switching back and forth between voices confuses consumers, not to mention kills any trust you’ve already built with them.
One thing to note is establishing a brand voice isn’t about “sounding like a brand.” Your brand has a life, a personality and plenty of unique characteristics, so its voice should represent that. Later in this blog, we’re going to teach you some tricks to doing just that but for now remember this: you want to maintain a human element in all of your brand’s communications.
Get to Know Your Audience
Let’s go back to our example from earlier. You wouldn’t text your boss back the same way you would text your best friend. Same goes for your mom, your partner or a big potential client. You naturally tailor your voice to match your audience—what they respond to, the level of formality they expect, your level of trust with them, etc.
The same goes for your brand’s voice.
The first step in knowing how your brand should communicate with its audiences is to identify exactly who you’re talking to. And we’re not just talking demographics, like age, income, education level, etc. You’ll need to dig a little deeper into the data and find out details including, but not limited to:
- What brands they have an affinity for (inside or outside your market)
- What stage in life they are in (college, working their first job post-grad, raising a family, etc.)
- Which platforms do they use to communicate with other people and brands (Instagram, email, text messaging, etc.)
- Where they search for answers and information (Google, YouTube, television, etc.)
Give Your Brand a Voice
Once you know who you’re talking to, determining how to talk to them gets a little easier. Here’s a trick: think of your brand as a person. Specifically, a person your target audience has a relationship with. Do you want your brand to be a close friend your clients can joke with or turn to you when they need wisdom and counsel? How you approach your responses will depend on what your brand has to offer customers. For example, an athletic wear brand might keep language casual to relate to its customers, while a financial institution would want to become someone their clients could turn for advice or information.
After determining the role you want your brand to play in your audience’s life, it’s time to get to work refining your voice. How do you greet customers? What’s your brand’s unique selling proposition expressed in a way that resonates with your audience? Is your mission statement written in a way that matches how you want your customers to think of you?
Defining a direction for your brand’s voice is one thing. Putting that plan into action is a whole other animal. And the secret to a consistent, engaging brand voice? It’s no secret at all—it’s practice, practice, practice.
Writing in your brand’s voice instead of your own may feel difficult at first, especially if you’re not a trained copywriter. But just like anything else, it gets easier with time. From promotional emails to tweets and even blog posts, the key is to just keep writing, strengthening your grasp on the intricacies of your brand’s voice until you hit the level of familiarity you’re aiming for with your customers.
Create a Style Guide (and Stick to It)
Excluding solopreneurs (we tip our hats to you!), most brands have a team of marketers backing them. Each member of that team should be equally familiar with the brand’s voice, whether they answer customer service calls or manage the company’s social media channels. Remember, consistency is the name of the game when it comes to brand voice.
That’s where creating a brand style guide comes in handy. It’s likely you already have guidelines in place for logo usage, imagery style, approved fonts, etc., but a brand style guide is also an opportunity to get your entire team on board and familiar with your brand’s voice. A few things to cover in your brand guide include:
- Breakdown of brand’s personality
- Tone and manner
- Approved words/phrases
- Brand-specific terminology
Feeling more confident about establishing your brand’s voice? We hope you are, but if you need more to chew on about branding, strategic planning and other marketing topics, be sure to subscribe to our evoker for monthly insights sent right to your inbox.