People usually think of branding as the visual identity of the company. Yet, there is much more to it. One of the critical elements of any branding strategy is the brand voice. Even with the correct logo, if your language is off, there is a possibility of losing the audience. If you’re new to branding and marketing in general, this might seem kind of scary.
Whether you’re building a brand or embarking on a major rebranding, you’ve come to the right place. Our guide to finding your brand voice is here to help you tackle all obstacles you might come across. Let’s turn you into a real branding expert within minutes!
What is a brand voice?
So, what is this brand voice we’re talking about? Well, there are quite a few definitions, but they all come down to this:
A brand voice is a way you speak to your customers.
Simple as that. In essence, it applies wherever and whenever your brand speaks. This could include newsletters, social media posts, internal official communication, and advertising. It plays an essential role in ensuring that your message breaks through in the crowd of others.
Brand voice includes 5 key elements:
- Character. Think of your brand as a person. Are you progressive or traditional? Casual or professional? Funny or serious? Being aware of your brand’s character goes a long way.
- Purpose. When writing your content, you need to know what the purpose of it is. Social media posts and internal memos are two completely different things. Make sure to communicate them in a proper way.
- Audience. Your target audience determines your brand voice. You don’t want to sound too serious if you’re addressing teenagers. You also don’t want to be funny if you’re addressing a consulting agency with 500+ employees.
- Language. The language is all about your storytelling, the way your words flow together. Choose the right language to convince your prospects you’re exactly what they need.
- Emotion. Gone are the days of the dull corporate image. People nowadays want to feel. The biggest question is: what do you want them to feel? Make sure your message evokes the emotions you want people to feel when they think of your brand.
Don’t overthink these. The correct answer is usually the one that first comes to mind. Keep it simple and authentic. Once you’ve got those five elements figured out, you’re already halfway there.
Why is brand voice important?
According to the SmallBizGenius survey, 61% of respondents were more likely to engage with brands with a unique voice. It is a big part of your brand’s identity, affecting people’s first impressions of you. Consider companies like Apple, Red Bull, or Nike. They’ve made a lifestyle out of their brand voice and the message it conveys. This is one of the main reasons for their longevity and success. So, you definitely want to invest in your brand voice strategy.
Among other things, a unique and consistent brand voice will:
- Get you closer to your clients. You should always send out messages in a voice your target audience can relate to.
- Make creating content like blogs and captions way easier. Knowing how you want to address your prospects makes it a lot easier to create content. Copywriters and designers will have a clearer picture of what you want if you have a defined brand voice.
- Help you distinguish yourself from the competition. Oscar Wilde once said: “Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken.” This can’t be any more true when talking about brand voice. If you want people to notice you, you have to be original. Otherwise, you’ll blend in with the rest with no exit in sight.
- Ensure you’re staying true to your values every time you speak. Defined company values are not always clear to your customers or even your employees. It’s imperative to emphasize them. And what’s a better way to do it than through a consistent brand voice!
Steps to finding your brand voice
Imagine that you’re at a party. You’ll meet a lot of people, forget many names and hear countless stories. Yet, there is always that one person with captivating storytelling skills. They likely have a fantastic personality as well. Their character and storytelling combined create an unforgettable experience. In fact, when you retell that story, you immediately think of that person.
That is exactly what a brand voice is – using language and evoking emotions to engage with the audience. It might seem like a divine talent (and it sometimes is), but you can learn it, too. The thing is, the voice of your brand already exists, but you might not have identified it yet. This process can actually be fun and have a positive outcome for your company culture in general.
Follow our 5 easy steps, and you’ll get there in no time!
1) Study your company’s mission, vision, and value statement
This is the place where you want to start your brand voice journey. Every serious business has a written document explaining its values, mission, and vision. These three are the guiding forces behind an organization, providing strategic direction. Going through this document should help you determine the characteristics of your brand. What drives you? What are your core principles and ethics?
Make sure that your brand voice correlates with this document. Every time your company communicates, it should emphasize the mission, vision, and values. For example, your core value is transparency. You’ll want to share both success and failure stories with your community to show that you are for real. You might need to be 100% open about how you hire your employees or produce your products.
2) Consider your target audience
You are going to direct your brand voice towards your target audience. So, the logical thing to do would be to consider their profile. Most companies already have their ideal buyer personas profile, so this is something to go by.
Different buyer personas communicate in different ways. People in their early twenties need completely different messages than baby boomers. The same goes for brands. A cognac brand is not going to use the same language as a car brand. In general, you need to find a perfect message for your product or service and your audience.
Putting yourself in your target audience’s shoes can help. Think about what kind of language they use, what they like and dislike. The most important question to ask yourself is: What do they expect from my product or service? To be more exact, what your product or service could do for them. Do they want fast results? High-quality ingredients or materials? Should it provide entertainment? Is it an essential item or service? A fun way to do this is through a focus group where you get to ask people whatever helps you find your brand voice.
3) Answer a questionnaire about your brand
Nobody knows your brand better than you. Your vision may be difficult to translate into words. That is why we prepared some interesting questions to help you express your ideas:
A. What do you want people to feel when communicating with your brand?
A brand voice has to be effective in evoking memories. Think about how your product or service improves lives and solves problems. Then think about how people feel when they get the results. It could be a feeling of relief or happiness, surprise or empowerment.
B. What adjectives would you use to describe your brand?
List five to ten adjectives that represent what you stand for. You can base this on the feedback you get from customers or on what you associate your brand with. Make sure that these adjectives fall in line with your audience’s profile.
C. How do you want to talk about yourself?
Imagine that you’re doing a TED Talk. There is a massive audience listening to what you’re saying in front of you and in front of the screen. You know that this is going to speak for everything you have accomplished so far. You must phrase it right. With this in mind, try writing a blog post, social media caption, or press release. There is no doubt that this tactic will help you have a clearer idea of your brand voice.
4) What is the competition doing right?
Okay, so everyone dislikes their competition by default. But we sometimes have to admit that they are doing a thing or two right. There is no shame in peeking into your neighbor’s garden to see why their grass is greener.
Use this strategy to improve your brand voice. Look up the posts with the most likes or blogs with the most reads. Try to detect what they have in common and how you can replicate it on your content. Be careful not to copy the exact idea or style of writing. It is important to remain authentic and produce original content.
5) Know what your big no-no is
It’s good knowing what you want to communicate and what your brand represents. But, did you ask yourself what it is not? This question is as important as any other, if not even more. Knowing what you don’t want helps avoid mistakes and find your true voice.
Try writing down a list of things about other brands that usually put you off. Pretentiousness, seriousness, grandiosity, or unfriendliness are the most common dislikes. It’s pretty probable that you already know what else you might add. Make sure that anything you choose for your no-no list is not a synonym of something on the ‘positive list’.
After reading all this, you should be ready to start working on your brand voice. We gave you the tools to begin with, and now it’s up to you to use them. The recipe for success is simple: be creative and stay true to your values.
Remember that your brand voice is a representation of all your efforts and hard work. You wouldn’t want all that to go to waste. A bit of effort goes a long way. This is a perfect opportunity to inspire, represent and create. Make sure to do thorough research, test many options, and track results. This way, you can’t go wrong.
In case you still need some advice on how to find your brand voice, worry not! You can always contact us and the Assist-o team will be there to help.