Brand voice – what is it and why is it so important?
Building and maintaining a brand that truly connects with your audience and offers genuine value is a huge undertaking, but it’s a necessary investment every business should make. When we talk about branding, people often think about visual identity – company logo (fonts, colours, overall design), signage, product packaging, company website, brochures, advertisements etc, and whilst this type of branding is all important, there is one crucial element that often gets overlooked, and this is brand voice and tone.
In a world where the digital landscape is vastly overcrowded with content (and not all of it is good), businesses must find a way to be instantly identifiable amongst all the chatter, and their words need to represent their company as much as their visuals do. Content is important, but it’s futile posting content that’s simply going to get lost in the sea of matter that’s already out there – content or copy must be carefully crafted in order to reach the right readers and speak to them in the right way, so as to achieve the marketing goals of the business.
Brand voice – let’s sum it up
Building a personality and presence that’s consistent and recognisable across all marketing channels.
Your brand voice is the way you speak to your audience (customers, clients, readers) and it represents your brand values and the personality and image you want to convey. It’s your distinct personality and it’s how you inject emotion into your words, enabling you to express your brand’s core message. Your brand voice should be consistent, so if people read your content across any given channel, they know it’s you. In the same way using the right voice strengthens your brand’s image, using the wrong voice can adversely affect the way people perceive your business, your products or services.
It’s not just what you say, but how you say it! Tone is more about the emotional inflections used, and may change slightly across channels, or with differing circumstances. For example, your tone might be more relaxed, personable and friendly on social media, whereas it would be considerably different if you were dealing with a customer complaint, pitching for business or closing a lucrative deal. Your voice needs to be consistent and unchanging, but you can adjust your tone for suitability.
Just do it!
Let’s look at an example of how successful companies use powerful and memorable visuals and voice. Said example is Nike, with it’s instantly identifiable ‘tick’ logo. So that’s visual, but what about Nike’s brand voice? How can that be described? Words such as inspiring, positive, powerful, motivational, encouraging, urgent (JUST DO IT) spring to mind. Ask yourself how you feel after watching a Nike advert on the television.
Why is brand voice so important?
It builds a connection, it builds trust, and it creates a memorable image of your brand. Brand recognition ensures your customers know exactly who you are and what you’re about. As with Nike, the most successful companies have a strong and consistent brand voice as well as brand visuals, both of which are easily recognisable across multiple channels. Words are capable of connecting with people on a subconscious level and triggering certain emotions, affecting the way they see and feel about your company, products or services, and ultimately nudging them to take specific action.
Every body is beautiful
Another example of a strong brand voice is Dove, where the sole purpose of the message is to empower and uplift women, inducing confidence, promoting self-esteem, and embracing individuality. When it comes to their marketing, they don’t need to tell their customers what their products do, they simply focus on how they make these women feel (because how they feel is what will ultimately make them buy).
How do I find (or improve) my brand voice?
Company values – Firstly, define (or revisit) your core values and mission statement. Why was the company set up? What is your aim / purpose? What differentiates you from the rest?
Define your audience – Who are your audience? You will already be aware of the demographics – their age, status, income, habits, lifestyle etc. But how do they speak, and how do they like to be spoken to? How do you need to communicate with them to connect on an emotional level?
Define the core purpose of your communication – What is your goal? To educate, inform, or inspire? To drive enquiries, secure repeat business or new sales? To position yourself as the expert in the market?
With the above in mind, it’s time to think about how you want your brand to be perceived. So, what’s your personality?
Come up with a selection of words that best describe you/your business. Here are some ideas: Fun, quirky, alternative, outgoing, creative, unique, casual, professional, expert, authoritative, matter of fact, commanding, trustworthy, reliable, credible, authentic, passionate, enthusiastic, ambitious, luxurious, rare, daring, empowering, uplifting, friendly, informative, knowledgeable.
Now you can tailor your content accordingly and ensure it’s written in a casual, authoritative, quirky, cheeky, authoritative (you get the gist) tone.
Now you’ve clearly defined your vision, your audience, and your voice… what next?
Establish a message architecture – Document it – your company values, mission statement, the image you want to portray and the words that best describe your brand, and perhaps give a couple of examples of some common vocals or brand phrases.
Ensure brand voice is conveyed consistently across all content – Unless you have one person in charge who looks after content, distribute the message architecture across departments to ensure consistency. Ensure freelancers are fully briefed and committed to loyally representing your brand voice.
Audit – be prepared to review and adjust – Times are changing and businesses need to keep up, so as you review your products or service offerings regularly, you should also review your brand image to ensure you’re speaking to the right customers in the right way. Audit your content – ensure it fits the brand values you want to communicate and reflects the values set out in your mission statement. Are you staying true to your message architecture? Is your content actually getting you results?
Content is everywhere, so how will you get yours to stand out?
If you haven’t yet defined your brand voice, or if you feel yours needs some improvement, I can help!
Anyone can write content, but writing supercharged and effective content or copy that actually makes your marketing work harder for you, is not easy.
Let me help you with that.
Shall we talk?