Creating a communication style that sets you apart
Can you imagine a world without voices? What would NIKE be without “Just do it” or its iconic campaigns celebrating female athletes? How about a world without Go Daddy commercials or the Budweiser frogs? (Ok, we may be dating ourselves, but you get it.) Without engaging content delivered by compelling voices, everything would just be... visual.
A brand voice is an important part of your overall brand identity. Not only does it allow you to relay specific details about your products or services, but it also helps customers decide whether or not they want to do business with you. If you’re looking to create lasting relationships with loyal customers, your brand voice needs to be clear, distinct, and consistent.
What is a brand voice?
Your brand voice communicates who you are. It’s the way your company relates to your clients and customers. Like a person’s voice and speaking style, it’s specific, individual, and recognizable. The way you talk to your audience — from web copy and social media posts to emails and marketing collateral — gives your brand a distinct personality. Your voice determines whether people view your brand as serious, playful, energetic, or knowledgeable. (The specific nuances in how you speak to various audiences are informed by your tone.)
Here at The Brand Leader, we like to say that a brand is an emotional connection between a business, product, or service and a customer (or potential customer). A clear, consistent brand voice helps your customers start to establish that connection. Better yet, being consistent with your voice strengthens that connection and ensures loyalty. It’s been shown that 70% of emotionally connected customers spend twice as much as those who don’t have one (source), so it’s not only good for the brand, it’s great for the business.
Why does brand voice matter?
Regardless of your industry, you have competitors — companies fighting for the attention of your customers and potential customers. If you want to stand out, you have to be memorable. A well-designed logo may catch someone’s eye, but in an age where the average person would rather scroll through their social media feed than spend time on a website, consumer attention is fleeting. If the way you talk about your products, services, or solutions isn’t engaging, you’ll struggle to get more than a passing glance in the marketplace.
Think about the people you enjoy spending time with. There’s something about the way they talk, tell stories, and interact with you that makes you choose their company over the company of others. Your brand voice has the same impact on your customers. There needs to be something about the way you communicate that keeps them coming back — even when they’re not actively making a purchase. A well-crafted brand voice can make that happen.
How do you develop a brand voice?
Crafting a clear brand voice is a critical step in creating a consistent brand identity. The good news is that you get to choose your brand voice. If you don’t like your current voice, you can improve it. If you’ve never taken the time to consider how you’re communicating, you can start fresh. While every brand is different, we encourage the brands we work with to follow some simple steps to identify and create the voice they want.
- Determine your brand archetype.
Branding is about storytelling. If every customer is the hero of their own story, your brand archetype is the character your company plays in their story. Having a clear idea of your role will help you decide how to communicate. If you’re a ruler type, you wouldn’t be playful. But if you view your brand as more of a jester, a serious voice would seem strange.
- Clarify your brand purpose.
Why does your business exist? What do you do every day to accomplish your goals? What qualities are most important to your brand? The answers to these questions (commonly known as your vision, mission, and values) will drive the content of your messaging. This step is important because when it comes to your brand voice, what you say is just as important as how you say it.
- Know your audience.
To know what type of brand voice to use, you need a clear understanding of your ideal customer. What are their likes, their needs, their motivations, and their aspirations? Once you understand the personas of your ideal customers, it’s easier to communicate in a way that helps them form an emotional connection.
- Keywords are the … key.
If your voice is going to be consistent, your brand messaging will revolve around a set of keywords. To determine your keywords, think about how you would want people to describe your brand. Do you want to be seen as friendly? Professional? Technical? Imaginative? When you settle on three to five words that capture the essence of your brand, use those words to inspire your voice.
- Get into character.
This is the fun part. With your purpose defined and your audience in mind, you can start thinking about how you want to communicate. If it seems a little awkward at first, think about your brand as a person. How would they interact at a party? Would they be loud and confident, demanding attention? Would they be the charismatic host spinning stories with good-natured humor? Ultimately, your brand plays a role in each customer’s story. Ideally, it should be a role you enjoy.
If you’ve ever been the person we described at the start of this article — the one accidentally stuck on mute — you know the panic and embarrassment that sets in when you realize you’ve been without a voice. You want to scramble, unmute yourself, and make up for lost time.
If you’ve never developed a brand voice or dislike your current voice, you may be tempted to react in much the same way. Please don’t. Your brand voice is a big deal; it deserves careful thought and planning. Whatever you do, don’t rush the process. A clear, consistent brand voice is worth the time it takes to find it.
Rich Hefty is the Sr. Copywriter at The Brand Leader and is also the breather of life into new brands' voice and tone documents.