With over 170,000 words circulating in our modern language, there are plenty of ways to communicate the same basic ideas. As anyone who has ever thought twice about signing off an email understands, meaning is more than dictionary definitions.
Throughout our lifetime, we become attuned to navigating this. Usually, there isn’t anything calculated about it – the way we speak naturally develops as we learn to represent ourselves through words. As a result, our communication with others improves over time, and our ability to distinguish particular dialects increases.
Similarly to how we learn to recognise various accents or pitches, we gradually become accustomed to a brand’s tone of voice. When we recognise a brand through the way they talk and are able to resonate with them, as consumers, we are much more likely to complete an action, such as interacting with their social media content. We may also feel more inclined to invest in their products or services.
For this very reason, brands need to invest some thought and effort into ensuring that their voice is fine-tuned and consistent. Not with me? Let’s get into it.
What is a ‘Brand Voice’?
If you’ve conducted any previous research into how you can develop your brand, you may already be aware that there’s more to it than just coming up with a name or designing a logo.
Instead, you’ll need to develop an integrated marketing strategy that ensures your website design, products, services, photography, video, and social media content work cohesively to communicate who you are, what you offer, and what you stand for.
Essentially, your brand voice is the textual side of that. It’s the choice of tone, vocabulary, syntax, and point of view that gives your content consistency.
Within marketing, you can exercise your brand voice in:
- Webpage text
- Advertisement text
- Content such as blog posts and social media updates
Why It Matters
1. It Shapes Your Persona
Think of the brands you purchase from. What kind of ideas or feelings do they represent? If you were to personify these brands, would they be formal, expert, casual, knowledgeable, rebellious, funny, exclusive, or approachable?
Some brands use a conspiratorial voice that invites potential customers to step in and enjoy access to exclusive secrets, hacks, and lesser-known information. Others are witty, playful, and encourage visitors to take part in the fun.
When it comes to personifying your brand, the sky’s the limit. However, the most important thing is that your brand voice communicates who you are and appeals to your target audience.
2. It Points to Your Value Proposition
Studies show that when someone clicks onto your website, you have a matter of seconds to grab their attention before they close the tab and take their business elsewhere.
Whether enticed via a blog or entering via your homepage, when a new lead clicks on your site, you want your brand voice to be clear and catchy. You also want to ensure that your unique value proposition stands out.
3. It Keeps You Polished
When it comes to your brand’s voice, the worst-case scenario is that your tone fluctuates from formal to warm or edgy across various platforms. Unfortunately, this inconsistency will leave your target audience somewhat confused and unable to relate to your brand.
Another scenario you may face is that you or your writers may be publishing content with some level of consistency, but you’re yet to nail your brand voice. In this instance, your brand isn’t completely scattered, but your values and personality are not as legible or clearly defined as they could be.
Until you employ a unified brand voice, you risk losing consumer interest. You may also find it difficult to acquire a competitive advantage.
Building a Brand Voice
1. Start With the Values
If your brand voice isn’t based on an authentic set of values that your audience and your business care about, your content will sound bland, fake, and even out of touch.
For this very reason, when building a brand voice, you first need to define what value proposition underlies your products or services. To do so, it may be worth asking yourself the following questions:
- What is it that you are selling?
- What are your values?
- What does your business care about?
- What does your target audience care about?
Asking these questions and taking advantage of tools such as the twelve brand archetypes will help you conceptualise some of the key personality traits that may complement your business.
2. Listen to Yourselves
Following the above, it’s important to zoom in on the content you’ve previously published. As you do so, you may find that there are hints of your desired brand voice hidden away.
As you review your existing content, look for differences and similarities between the content produced, either by yourself or your team of writers. Consider whether your posts are consistent, and see if you can parse out the shared characteristics between your posts with the highest engagement.
3. The Brand Voice Document
Whether you’re a small business with just a few writers or a larger company with a vast amount of content writers, producing a brand voice document or writing style guide will help you maintain your brand voice across all platforms.
When it comes to producing your brand voice document, there are a few key things to include. For example, you must define your core values and mission statement right at the start. This should be followed by any personality traits you would like to evoke through your content.
To help your writers, it’s ideal to also include examples of text that illustrate your brand voice across different platforms. You may additionally want to make a list of recommended vocabulary and phrases related to your brand. However, steer clear of any industry jargon that your audience isn’t an expert in if you do.
4. Get Started
As and when your brand voice document is complete, it’s time to start implementing it. Though you may think that your brand voice will automatically flourish, it’s important to remember that this isn’t something that can be achieved overnight.
Revising and refining your brand voice is an ongoing journey. As long as you produce content, you will need to monitor the content your target audience interacts with the most and adapt your brand voice to suit their preferences.