5 Key Steps to a More Genuine Brand Voice
If you’ve written any company communications, from tweets to blog posts to brochures, you’ve contributed to shaping your brand voice. Anyone can string a series of buzzwords together to say what they offer. But cultivating a unique and authentic voice can be one of your most powerful marketing tools. How intentional are you with your communications?
These days, authenticity matters. According to the Lippincott Brand Study, leaders who connect in a more human way have 20 percent stronger favorability with their customers. Think of sitting down with your competitors at a dinner party. Who would have the most interesting story to tell? Who would keep people engaged?
Before you send out your next email blast, it’s worth spending some time identifying the particulars of your brand voice.
1. Understand your audience
You probably don’t talk to your grandmother the same way you talk to your best friend. The same goes for your customers. If you haven’t already, consider building an archetype or consumer persona. Making your target consumer as human as possible will help you decide how to talk to them. It’s helpful to know where this person lives, what they do for work, and what they do in their free time. But try to dig deeper. Pinpointing their concerns, what they care about, and what they want will help you narrow down your brand voice.
2. Use your brand’s core values
With a clear picture of your consumer, it’s time to turn inward. Use your company’s big idea or brand statement as a starting point. Get clear about who you are and what you offer. What makes you unique? How do you want to make people feel? Words alone don’t define your company’s personality. Your visuals, your logo, and the way you present yourself all come into play. Identify where your existing materials convey your brand values and where they fall short.
3. Nail down the do’s (and the don’ts)
With both audience and core values in mind, choose several words that capture your brand’s personality. Are you quirky and passionate? Or are you rebellious and irreverent? Write some examples of each to see what feels right. How would you use this voice on a website, an email, an instagram post, or in person? It can also be helpful to decide how you don’t want to sound. MailChimp’s voice and tone guide does a great job of clarifying their do’s and dont’s:
- Fun but not silly
- Confident but not cocky
- Smart but not stodgy
- Informal but not sloppy
- Helpful but not overbearing
- Expert but not bossy
- Weird but not inappropriate
4. Get the whole team on board
When it comes to cultivating a strong brand voice, consistency is key. With multiple copywriters and communication channels, your unifying efforts can easily go awry. Every message sends a message. That’s why it’s important to bring the team together and get everyone on the same page. This is where your specific examples will come in handy. Make sure the whole group understands your brand voice, and clarify any questions. Cohesive communication not only looks more professional, but creates trust.
5. Keep refining your brand voice
Remember that your voice will change over time. As your company evolves and grows, so will the way you sound. You probably don’t speak the same way you did when you were a teenager, and the same is true of your brand. Have quarterly meetings with your team to determine what’s working and what’s not. Keep tabs on the competition, stay in tune with your audience, and learn from leading brands. Don’t consider your brand voice a static or permanent fixture.
Finding your authentic brand voice is a process, but it pays to think before you speak. Communicating consistently and intentionally makes you familiar to your customer and sets you apart from competitors. People want to buy from a brand they know, and your voice is one of your most valuable opportunities to tell them who you are.