A compelling brand voice is a vital component of any marketing strategy. It’s how you differentiate yourself from the competition and build brand recognition in the market. But what is brand voice, and how do you create one?
In this article, we’ll look at its meaning and teach you how to create a distinctive brand voice that elevates your marketing efforts.
- Brand voices are crafted to reflect the brand’s personality and leave a lasting impression on its target audience.
- A distinct brand voice helps establish brand identity, builds customer loyalty, and enhances communication consistency.
- Components of a strong brand voice include tone, style, vocabulary, and consistency.
- To create your own brand voice, describe it using examples, do’s and don’ts, and word/industry terms, and create guidelines to ensure consistency across your team and marketing channels.
- Implementing a successful brand voice requires training content creators, auditing existing content, and monitoring/adjusting materials when necessary.
Brand Voice Definition
Let’s define brand voice. Brand voice refers to the unique personality and tone that a brand uses to communicate its values, vision, and messaging to its target audience. The consistent use of language, style, and tone helps build brand recognition, loyalty, and trust.
A brand’s voice can be shaped by factors such as its company culture, industry standards, and customer preferences and can range from authoritative to humorous. A company’s mission statement will also play a large part in shaping a brand voice.
In other words, brand voice is the verbal expression of a brand’s visual identity that distinguishes it from its competitors and engages the customers emotionally.
Benefits of Brand Voice
Why does brand voice matter? To gain a better understanding of how a brand voice can benefit your business, we’ve listed three of its pivotal marketing roles:
Establishes Brand Identity
Your brand identity is how you portray your company to customers. It consists of your logo, brand colors, font, personality, visuals, and, most importantly, brand voice. Knowing how you want to talk to your audience puts you on the right track to building a solid brand identity.
Take Nike, for example. They wanted their sporting goods brand to speak confidently and inspirationally, and everything about them now reflects that, from their ads to their social media posts to their bold designs and vibrant colors.
Builds Customer Loyalty
The more familiar and genuine your brand voice is, the deeper your emotional connection with your audience will be. Your brand voice is the primary means of expressing relatability, making it a main character in building a loyal customer base. This is your springboard toward increasing brand awareness and revenue.
If there’s one brand that perfectly displays this, it’s Apple. This company rarely offers product discounts and maintains a remarkable customer retention rate. One of their tactics for maintaining this connection with their audience is to center their unique brand voice on user experience and innovation.
Enhances Communication Consistency
Consistency is key to winning customers over. It’s a stepping stone toward earning their trust. Users prefer having unified experiences throughout all communication channels, whether in-store, on different social media platforms, or through ads.
Creating a consistent brand voice lays the groundwork for creating content and marketing strategies that earn customer confidence and trust.
Think of Red Bull — their brand personality is associated with fun and adventure because they consistently promote these characteristics through daring marketing campaigns, their slogan “Red Bull gives you wings,” and athlete sponsorships.
Components of Brand Voice
Let’s start with the basics. What are the initial elements that go into creating a strong brand voice? There are four components to consider:
While your brand voice won’t change, your tone can — and should — depending on the topic or medium. For example, you can use humor on social media posts, but when it comes to dealing with customer complaints, you must sound professional and compassionate.
That’s why you have to develop various tones for the basic communication scenarios your company will face.
The way you write your marketing messaging defines your brand’s style. Consider how you want your brand to come across to your target audience, from an elegant brand voice to casual, conservative, or edgy.
Here are some popular brand voice examples:
Once you’ve identified your brand’s tone and style, the vocabulary will follow. Your brand voice will dictate the words you use — and don’t use.
For example, if your content is for teenagers, using slang and conversational, relatable language is okay. If it’s directed at professionals, it’s preferable to use industry-specific terminology and a mature tone.
If you look at Slack’s language policies, you’ll notice that references to pop culture or slang are prohibited. This is because their product is geared toward businesses.
Emotion and Authenticity
Emotion and authenticity are crucial aspects of any brand voice. Consumers want to be able to engage with authentic brands that care about their consumers and aren’t just profit-driven.
Keep your voice authentic and keep your emotions in the forefront of your messaging. This requires a deeper understanding of your target audience’s motives, preferences, and needs. The more you understand your audience, the more original and authentic your brand voice will sound.
Your visual branding also plays a crucial role in your brand voice. Your visuals should align with the initial impression you want to make on your audience. Make sure your brand’s visual elements, like colors and fonts, are consistent across all channels.
How to Identify Your Brand Voice
Here are the four major stages you’ll need to go through to find yours:
Understand Your Audience
The first step in identifying your brand voice is to understand your audience. Who are the people you’re trying to reach, and what kind of messaging resonates with them? By getting a clear picture of your target audience, you can develop a voice that speaks directly to them. Think about your audience’s language and tone, and try to mirror it in your branding.
Define Your Personality
Your brand voice should reflect your company’s personality. Are you serious and professional, or do you have a more playful and irreverent style? Do you want to come across as authoritative and knowledgeable, or do you prefer to take a more approachable and friendly tone? Once you have a clear sense of your brand personality, you can start to develop a voice that aligns with it.
Seek Input From Stakeholders
Who better to give input on developing a brand voice than employees (customer service, marketing, social media, etc.), and customers? Hold meetings with various teams in your company to gather feedback and create surveys to get your customer’s point of view.
- Keep the survey brief and easy to complete.
- Provide incentives for participation, like promo codes or gift cards.
- Place surveys at stages where customers are engaged, such as at the checkout or the end of a chat.
Once you’ve identified your brand voice, it’s important to develop guidelines that ensure consistency across all your communications. Create a document that outlines the key elements of your brand voice, including your tone, language, and messaging. Use this document as a reference whenever you’re creating new content, and make sure that everyone on your team understands and follows these guidelines.
Creating a Brand Voice Guide
We’ve broken down the process of developing the right voice for your company into five steps. You can use Google Docs, a PDF, a slideshow, a brand voice template, or your preferred medium to create your guide.
Describe Your Brand Voice
Now that you’ve created your brand voice, you need to put it into words to help everyone — from your marketing team to customer service — use it properly. Include outstanding examples of your own brand’s voice to help convey the distinct personality so others can use it when creating sales collateral, social media posts, web copy, and more.
Create Guidelines for Language and Tone
Once you have defined your brand voice, it’s essential to create language and tone guidelines. These guidelines ensure that every communication from your business is consistent with your brand voice and persona. Guidelines should include details on the kind of language to use, what words to include and avoid, terms to use, and the appropriate tone in different situations.
Provide Examples and Use Cases
Creating a brand voice guide becomes more accessible when you provide examples and use cases for your team to follow. Providing samples of different communication types, such as emails, social media posts, and marketing materials, helps your team understand how to apply your brand voice guidelines in practice. This step is crucial for ensuring that everyone in your organization is on the same page in terms of brand voice.
Establish Dos and Don’ts
Let’s say that being assertive and authoritative are part of your brand voice. Here’s an example of the do’s and don’ts you might put into your guide for these personality traits:
- Do: Be confident. Make strong statements that convey authority and experience. Example: “This approach will help you create memorable content.”
- Don’t: Sound unsure. Avoid words that discredit authority like “might,” “may,” “possibly,” “can,” or “could.” Example: “This approach may help you create memorable content.”
By doing so, you develop clear guidelines for content creators to follow to maintain consistency. Check out how Sprout Social’s brand voice template lists things to do and avoid after each point.
Use Your Brand Voice Guide Across All Platforms
Your brand voice guide isn’t helpful if you don’t put it into action. Ensure your brand voice guide is used across all platforms where your business communicates with customers and prospects, such as social media platforms, websites, emails, and marketing materials. This creates a consistent brand identity and message, which is key to creating a powerful brand.
Implementing Your Brand Voice
To implement your brand voice correctly and ensure that everything runs smoothly, there are three vital things you’ll need to do:
Train Content Creators
Content creators need to learn your brand voice guidelines by heart. Otherwise, there’ll be significant differences in your brand’s content. Conduct training sessions or workshops for all teams displaying the brand’s voice, whether they’re writers, editors, or marketers. Also, make sure to share the template with them so they can keep it as a reference.
You should also double-check all materials before submissions, especially at the beginning of the process, to ensure they comply with the template. That way, you’ll be able to provide relevant feedback and on-the-ground guidance.
Audit Existing Content
Always review your existing content for two good reasons. First, it’s your shortcut to pinpointing which parts of your brand voice were a hit and which were a miss.
On a related note, analyzing this data will reveal channels (ex: social media, websites, or email campaigns) with the most traffic and visibility. You can then prioritize the materials displayed on them.
The second reason is that you’ll be able to spot previous work that no longer matches your current guidelines and either update or remove it.
Monitor and Adjust
Your job isn’t done after setting up the brand voice guidelines — you still need to evaluate their effectiveness. This is primarily accomplished through receiving feedback and closely monitoring engagement rates.
You should also keep an open mind when it comes to changes and refine your brand voice when necessary. Consistency is great, but don’t misinterpret it; you must evolve to stay current.
Now that we’ve answered the question “What is brand voice?” you can work on creating one for your business. As you can see, a brand voice matters greatly, and it’s a valuable, long-term asset to any business. It’s the starting point for raising brand awareness and building a loyal customer base.
Selecting the right tone, style, vocabulary, and personality will help you create a powerful brand voice that is used throughout all channels and platforms. Doing so will make your brand stand out and help you create a memorable identity.
Barbara Lawson is a marketing writer with over ten years of experience teaching marketing at a university level. Her content is backed by extensive research, and her expertise in the field is invaluable. Living in the beautiful city of Burlington, Vermont, Barbara enjoys practicing yoga to stay centered and focused.