Defining your brand is all about setting your business apart from the rest. A unique and distinctive brand not only helps your customers understand the products and services you sell but also helps to convey the emotional or less-tangible beliefs that you and your customers share. With a strong brand, you’ll forge an iron-clad bond with your customers—one that creates a generation of raving fans.
At the surface, a brand is represented through names, terms, designs, or symbols. Yet, if you stop there, your brand will merely be a facade. Ultimately, your brand identity should be infused in every element of your business and show up in every customer interaction—including communication tactics, customer service, store experiences, and more. Among the most crucial of these elements is your brand voice.
In this blog, we’ll unpack the importance of a brand voice. And by the end, you’ll be well on your way to defining yours.
By way of simple definition, a brand voice is the personality and emotion embedded in a company’s messaging and communications. It is one of the most powerful ways that your business can differentiate itself from the competition. What does a brand voice entail?
- Words and language
- Sentence structures (for instance, use of the first person can invoke a more approachable, relaxed voice)
- The overall personalty that you convey throughout your communications
- Imagery in your marketing materials, website, etc.
When defining a brand voice, it is worth noting that a brand voice is different than a brand tone. While a brand voice should be applied consistently and leave a lasting impression on customers, tone is the emotional twist that is added to the brand voice. In some cases, you will need to tailor the brand tone based on the nature of a given marketing asset or customer communication (e.g., when communicating to customers in times of crisis).
Articulating your brand voice in five simple steps
- Start with your mission and values. The personality in your communications should be a reflection of your company’s overall values. All of your marketing efforts should tie your values to your brand. For example, if you’re in the business of tutoring elementary school children and your mission is to empower kids to feel more confident, the words you choose to use in communications might convey a kind, helpful, hopeful, or nurturing personality.
- Look at your existing messaging. Check your website, direct mail pieces, customer emails, social media posts, etc. for any common themes or consistencies in your messaging to customers. Are there opportunities to improve any of these communications to more accurately represent your brand values and purpose?
- Do some homework on your audience. Ask some of your most valued customers questions such as, “If our brand were a person, what would he or she sound like?” Or, simply seek their input on whether your current messaging feels consistent with your values. Also research your customers (e.g., online or through social media profiles) to pinpoint any commonalities in their identity and values. For example, if your customers identify as smart, young, and educated, an intelligent, yet edgy, voice will likely resonate best with your core customers.
- Determine what you’re not. We all know that words can carry different nuances and connotations. For example, being funny isn’t always the same as being witty. Applying this line of thinking, it can be helpful to draft a list of five or ten core statements highlighting what your brand is, and more importantly, what it isn’t. For example, you might say, “We’re confident, but not arrogant,” or, “We’re assertive, but not abrasive.”
- Chart your brand voice! This is the fun part. If you have made it to this step, you’ve like gathered enough quality input to distill and document your brand voice. Choose the five adjectives that you feel best reflect your brand—what we’ll call your “Voice Descriptors.” For each Voice Descriptor, outline what that descriptor means in the context of your brand. For example, if your business is a coffee shop and one of your Voice Descriptors is “inviting,” map out the following:
- Description: When customers enter our shop, we want them to feel like they are coming over to a friend’s house.
- Do this: Use warm, familiar, and approachable words, along with simple, concise sentence structures.
- Avoid this: Avoid overly formal or professional words. Use imperative sentence structures very sparingly, as they may give the impression of being disingenuous or authoritative.
Once you have your first descriptor documented, repeat this mapping for all of your Voice Descriptors!
Your brand voice should be the North Star for all of your company’s communications, whether it be an advertisement, Instagram post, storefront sign, or promotional email. Once you define and apply it with intention, you’ll—without a doubt—build a more a strong, genuine, and resilient bond with customers.