The larger your company gets, the more important the messaging and brand voice is. While at first, it might just be you talking to a few people about what makes you unique, as the company grows, this message is amplified and it needs to be 100% consistent. That means, from your web page copy to what your employees are saying to your blog to social media, it should all align. Now, the brand voice is critical, because if it is done correctly and it strikes a chord with people, you will get business. If it comes off the wrong way, it will cost you business.
Our core values are Relationships, Responsive and Results. The 3 Rs, coined by Co-Founder Krish Coughran. We also have a clear mission statement and values. All of this plays into our brand voice and lets consumers know who we are. In this post, I want to walk you through the ins and outs of this process.
Here’s how you can define a brand voice that attracts business for your brand, and reaches your target market in a more direct way.
What is a Brand Voice?
First, it’s important to understand exactly what a brand voice is.
You might know brand voice under another name, “tone of voice.”
The idea is still the same. Your brand voice is not the jingle you create for commercials, or the audio version of your logo, or some other auditory sensation.
Your brand voice is the style and tone of the writing and communications you put out for your company. The words and style of those words are the biggest factor into determining the personality of your brand.
Brand voice is just one part of your brand’s personality, but it’s an important one. Customers will also experience your brand through your brand logo and your digital presence online, but your brand voice is what grabs them.
So in a nutshell, your brand voice is how your communicate with the world and how your core company values manifest in that communication.
What a Brand Voice is NOT
A brand voice has nothing to do with grammar. Your brand voice is not defined by whether you use the AP style or the Chicago Manual of Style.
Grammar is something that may or may not influence your brand voice, but it’s not what should define your brand voice.
For instance, a brand voice that’s targeting millennials may not be as concerned with traditional grammar rules as one that’s targeting an older demographic. It’s up to you to decide what your brand voice isn’t, and that will largely depend upon the demographic you’re targeting.
Check out this ad for Forever 21.
Notice the language? It plays directly into the brand voice. “Best prices since like… Forever”
When the youth reads something like this, they identify with the style and voice and it attracts them, equaling sales.
Some Examples of Brand Voice
Here are a few different examples of brand voice that you may have seen. Keep in mind the style that each of these brands uses and the emotions they evoke with their communications.
DiGiorno pizza has a brand voice that is humorous, subversive, and at times is extremely clever.
During a live telecast of “The Sound of Music” back in 2013, DiGiorno filled their Twitter feed with tweets like this:
Notice how they’re clearly targeting millennials with these tweets, because they’re adopting the nomenclature of that age group with “smh” (shaking my head)
Their tweets are funny and timely, and they obviously know their target audience quite well. Think, who buys take home pizza? I tell you who, I did! But that is when I was back in college at UC Santa Cruz. Not today. Although it does sound good right now.
Everyone knows Nike for their brand slogan “Just Do It,” which has become a staple of American culture. But if you’ve ever paid close attention to their brand voice, you may have noticed something different.
Nike’s brand voice is inspirational, it’s almost pushy, and it forces you to want to improve yourself (motivation, I love it! Makes me want some new Nike shoes to run in). This particular Instagram ad shows a photo that inspires people to want to keep their workouts going. Not coincidentally, Nike advertises their products subtly in the caption.
But the emotions this ad generates in the followers is the real story here. It’s almost impossible to see this ad and the brand voice in the caption and not feel inspired to better yourself and to improve.
Warby Parker is notable for their sophisticated, almost high-brow brand voice. But they’re also notable for their ability to make their target audience feel like they’re a part of the conversation.
Warby Parker’s brand voice makes you feel like you’re being spoken to directly. They make you feel like, no matter what, your opinion matters to them.
Much of Warby Parker’s social media (especially on Twitter), makes use of polls, open-ended questions, and user submissions in order to get their marketing messages across. The result is a customer-focused brand that uses an inclusionary brand voice to get their point across, without sacrificing any marketing messages. You always know when you’re reading a Warby Parker ad, but it doesn’t feel like an ad.
Sephora is a cosmetics/beauty products company that caters mostly to millennial women. Their brand voice strikes an educational, informative tone. Users are given tips, tricks, and educational content that helps reinforce their brand while subtly advertising their products:
Sephora’s cosmetic tips serve to educate their followers, all while providing content that is applicable to the products that they sell. Their brand voice not only educates, but it markets to potential customers in a way that harnesses the power of content marketing to drive their point across.
How to Define a Brand Voice
Here are all the steps to follow when you define your own brand voice:
- Decide who your target audience is
By figuring out who it is you’re trying to sell your products to, you can better hone the voice and tone you’re using for your brand.
For instance, if you decide that your audience is mostly 50-something females, implementing a brand voice that’s filled with millennial lingo won’t endear you to your target market.
Instead, you’ll need to have a clear idea on what it is your target market wants, needs, and feels. What kinds of things are they interested in? What are their demographics? How do they communicate online? Are there any special terms they’re using that you can adapt your messages to?
Action Item: Create 3 customer personas and use those to model your messaging.
- Describe what you want your brand voice to be
Think long and hard about the kind of tone you want to portray, and the emotions you want to evoke in people. Is it humorous? Educational?
Knowing what you want your brand voice to be will go a long way towards helping you decide the kinds of marketing communications that are going to work for your brand.
Really the only way to inform your marketing messages with the right type of brand voice is to determine what you want that voice to be up front. That way, you can craft messages and communications that support your brand voice.
Even if you’re creating content in many different places, a solid understanding of your brand voice will allow you to show the same consistency throughout every aspect of your marketing.
Action Item: Get input from the entire company on who you are. Take that and match it up to your customer pain points. Make sure your voice reflects the main items that will attract your customer. For example, people looking for an Internet marketing company want relationships, responsiveness and results.
- Create a style guide that others can follow
By taking all of these things into account and compiling your very own brand style guide, you can effectively influence the marketing messages that your team uses in the future. A style guide exists to help you and your team understand what is and isn’t acceptable for your brand.
Users can reference your style guide to inform their approach with any kind of marketing content that they produce in the future.
Action Item: Create a clear one sheet that has all the dos and don’ts.
- This is our main message
- We always try to reinforce this
- We never say this
Tap into a Feeling With Your Brand Voice
I think the main thing you want to do with your brand voice is to tap into a particular emotion that resignated with the consumer in a way that generates a feel which is associated with the value your product or service provides. It’s up to you to figure out what that emotion is depending on your industry and niche, but you can see the power of this effect in an example like Nike.
Nike’s marketing forces you to feel something, and the way you feel about those ads (powered by Nike’s brand voice) compels you to satisfy that urge specifically by purchasing Nike products.
A Great Brand Voice is Influenced by its Target Market
I think the best way to create a brand voice that attracts business is to thoroughly understand the target market you’re trying to sell to.
That’s the only way you’re going to be able to create something that works and helps your target market trust you. Without an authentic brand voice, you’re simply a place that sells products.
How often do you see this? A blog or ads that are so generic, you don’t feel anything. Instead, it almost feels like a dead company where no one even works? Or blogs that almost feel like spam? You think to yourself, did someone actually write this?
Make a Quick and Dirty Brand Voice Now
Do it now, sit down and write down your brand voice on piece of paper. Use this outline.
- Three Personas
- Core Company Message
- Company Mission
- Core Products to Promote
- Tone of Voice
- How we Want to Interact with Customers
- How we do Not Want to Interact with Customers
- Things to Never Say
- Examples of Content that is Approved and On Brand
Good luck creating a brand voice that brings you the success you are looking for.