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When you deal with marketing, you hear plenty of industry phrases that get tossed around. One such phrase you might have encountered before is brand voice. But what is brand voice, and how do you develop one? Read on to learn more about brand voice, why it’s important, and how you can start developing a brand voice for your company.
Image via Flickr by Fibonacci Blue
If people were viewing your content on different media, would it sound the same to let them know it was all coming from you? Your brand voice goes beyond the words and phrases you use to communicate with your customers. It also includes the tone you use to connect with everyone. Your brand voice can be fun, authoritative, informative, or even witty. The only important thing is that your brand voice is authentic. If you try to fake your brand voice, your audience will be able to tell, and they won’t be interested in doing business with you.
Now that you understand what brand voice is, you might be wondering why it’s important. Simply put, customers do business with companies they trust. Unfortunately, customer trust is falling. The 2018 Edelman Trust Barometer, the industry standard for tracking and measuring consumer trust, found that only 48 percent of people in the United States trust businesses. This is down from 58 percent in 2017, and it’s had a general downward trend over the past decade. One way you can build trust is by having a genuine brand voice.
As you’re trying to develop a brand voice for your company, consider some examples already out there. For instance, Old Spice has a comical brand voice. The company’s commercials, print advertisements, and website are silly and memorable. When you picture Harley-Davidson, you think about rugged and aggressive advertisements that match what the company’s customers are looking for. On the opposite end, every advertisement for Bath & Body Works comes across as cheerful and fun.
When you’re ready to start developing your brand voice, consider these five simple steps to help create one that’s strong, clear, and concise:
The first and most important step in creating your brand voice is defining the personality of your company. To do this, write down the three words that describe your brand. For example, you might say your brand is:
Now that you have your main characteristics, give them more definition that will help each one come through in the content you’re creating. With our example, we might say:
After you’ve defined your brand voice, you want to make sure you stand out from the crowd. Take a look at your competitors to see how they’re using their tone and brand voice. Rather than simply copy and make it seem as though your product or service is exactly like the competition’s, figure out how to distinguish yourself. While you can certainly use your competitors as your muse, you also want to make sure you’re developing a brand voice that makes your company instantly recognizable.
Before you’re ready to start using your brand voice to engage with your customers, you need to first listen to them. Look at how your customers communicate. Are they formal or casual? Do they always use proper grammar and punctuation? Or do they often use conversational slang? Being able to communicate with your customers in the style they’re comfortable with will make your brand voice more approachable and authentic.
Once you feel comfortable with your brand voice, you’re ready to engage with your customers. You can use your brand voice across all communication channels. Incorporate it into your print advertisements and when creating social media content. It’s very common for companies to use their brand voice when they’re replying to messages from their customers. Also, don’t forget to consider areas often overlooked, such as social media bios and author bylines.
Your brand voice isn’t something you create once and forget about. Instead, it’s something you should revisit as your company grows and changes. For example, think again about Old Spice. The company was originally launched in 1937 and targeted women. A year later, men’s products were introduced, and they slowly found more success. However, for the longest time, Old Spice was associated with an older clientele. It wasn’t until the 2010 advertising campaign went viral that the company started to take on the brand voice it’s known for today.
When you’re just starting your business, you might be doing it by yourself or with a few other people. In this case, it’s pretty easy to keep your brand voice consistent. However, as your business grows and it starts to add more people, you may quickly end up with a variety of voices and tones that dilute your brand voice and your message. This is especially true if you bring in external help, such as freelancers.
To ensure your brand voice remains consistent no matter how many people you have working on your marketing team, you need to create a style guide. When you put together your style guide, list the three characteristics you originally created to define your brand voice. Then describe how that characteristic ties back to your brand. Finally, provide some examples of how this characteristic can and cannot be used when creating content.
When you’re making a new marketing campaign or bringing on a new member, be sure you review the style guide so everyone understands how to bring your brand voice alive. Additionally, try to include some examples of content that perfectly illustrate your brand voice.
Although brand voice sounds like just another marketing buzzword, it’s actually an important part of your company’s identity. Now that you know how to develop your brand voice, you can create content that’s engaging and authentic.