When you hear an ad on TV or drive past a billboard, you probably don’t even need to know the advertiser’s name to know it’s promoting one of your favorite brands. Like a close friend, you can recognize their tone and phrasing anywhere: Spotify’s is edgy, concise, and direct, Mailchimp’s is laid-back, conversational, and humorous, and Fenty Beauty’s is dramatic, bold, poetic. Now that’s the power of a great brand voice.
What is a brand voice?
Think about the last time you spoke to a friend on the phone. Caller ID aside, how did you know it was her on the phone? You were probably to recognize her voice right away – specifically her speech patterns, language, and the way she tells stories. You also can picture the last time you had a conversation with a stranger. What sort of words did they use? Were they outgoing or shy? And most importantly, how did you feel after speaking with them?
A person’s voice is usually synonymous with their personality – and brand voice isn’t much different. The difference is that while you might change your voice to suit different occasions, your business’ brand voice is the language it uses across all forms of communication, from official statements to social media captions.
A great brand voice should reflect your company culture, your core values, and what you do. Pull this off, and you’ll increase your brand loyalty tenfold as well as pull in new customers that resonate with your brand voice. But how exactly do you translate your mission to messaging? Let’s break it down.
Creating a brand voice
Start with your mission statement
If your business has a mission statement (which hopefully it does), then congratulations – you have all the elements of your brand voice right in front of you. Take a closer look at your company values. If you pride yourself on transparency, eco-friendliness, and ethical sourcing, your business has a distinctly modern edge. If your mission statement includes phrases like “customer service” or “community,” then you probably care about connecting with customers. Those qualities can be directly translated into your brand voice.
Know your audience
If your target audience doesn’t resonate with your brand voice, then you’re missing the mark. Your messaging should be based on your customer’s demographics and psychographics, including their ages, locations, interests, beliefs, and needs. It may be helpful to create a buyer persona – or a fictional character used to represent a member of your target audience – and ask yourself what kind of language would speak directly to them. Who would your buyer persona want to be friends with? Does she like to read formal literature, or does she enjoy funny, short-form content? And if she does like to laugh, how would you describe her sense of humor? The more specific you can be, the better.
Consider other content
If there’s one thing your brand voice should be above all else, it’s authentic. With that said, there is value in analyzing top-performing content from similar companies or your competitors and considering why they work. Maybe a competitor business is publishing content that includes pop-culture references, or perhaps they dive deep into original research to bring more value to their customers. No matter what your competitor is doing, their brand voice is already resonating with your audience, so it may be worth taking a page out of their playbook.
Put it in writing
Remember when we said that your business’ brand voice is the language it uses across all forms of communication? The best way to ensure that your entire business is aligned in using that brand voice is to put its key characteristics in writing. Create a communications document that outlines the defining traits of your brand voice (i.e. witty, commanding, direct, knowledgeable, etc.) as well as a few example sentences that show how those characteristics sound in action. You might even include a do’s and don’ts list (i.e. do use humor where appropriate, don’t use too much jargon).