The market is crowded and noisy. If you have any chance of getting heard above the chorus of sameness, you’ve got to find your voice.
A brand voice is an essential component to your success, but what is it and why is it so important? Let’s discuss.
What is a Brand Voice?
A brand voice is the style of your communication.
Chances are, you have competitors who sell a similar service, product, or idea. While the content you’re sharing may not be drastically different from those competitors, the way you present that content can separate you from the pack.
One of my favorite examples of this is MailChimp. MailChimp is an email marketing service provider with plenty of competition, as you can imagine. But MailChimp has been deemed the master of microcopy, and there’s a good reason why.
This brand has a unique style of communicating that’s (in their words) “fun but not silly” and “expert but not bossy”. MailChimp delights its users with a straightforward, helpful, and non-patronizing tone.
While you won’t have the same voice as MailChimp, here’s a key lesson you can learn from this genius brand: your brand voice is not the message. Instead, your brand voice is the way you present the message.
Why Do You Need a Unique Brand Voice?
Your voice is a part of your overall branding efforts. In addition to visual components, such as your logo, images, and other graphic elements, your voice helps to create a human connection with your audience.
There are a lot of great benefits to cultivating a consistent brand voice. Let’s take a look at two of the main benefits below:
A brand voice helps your audience identify you in a crowded market. If you strip away visual branding, does your voice sound different from your competitors? If the answer is yes, you’ll amass a community of people who appreciate the way you present information. But if you’re not sure that you sound different, then the answer is “no” because a unique brand voice is intentional and well-conceived.
A brand voice helps you create a sense of trust with your audience. Consistency is one of the key factors to building trust. By defining a brand voice and sticking to it, no matter whether you’re on your blog, your social media channels, your offline engagements, etc., you’ll teach your audience what to expect from your brand.
Gary Vaynerchuk does this expertly well. You get the same “give it to me straight” brand voice whether you’re stalking him on Twitter, reading one of his best selling books, or listening to one of his short, but insightful videos on YouTube.
Through consistency of voice across all of your platforms, you’ll forge a dependable and trustworthy image.
How to Define Your Brand Voice
Now that we’ve talked about why developing a unique brand voice is so important, let’s talk about how to do it.
You’re having a conversation with your audience, not a boring monologue. You’re listening and discussing. You’re open for feedback. Your brand voice should mirror that.
There are way too many brands who are still caught up in the old way of doing things. You’ll be able to easily identify them because they’re the brands that refer to themselves in third person and use overly formal language to communicate with their audience.
While that may have been okay for your mom’s generation, times have definitely changed. Audiences demand a more human voices from the brands that they do business with. Audiences these days are extremely self-aware and gravitate to brands that reflect that same level of awareness.
Choose Adjectives to Describe Your Brand
If I gave you a budget of three to five adjectives, how would you describe your brand? Use those descriptive keywords to define voice.
Words like authoritative, friendly, youthful, feminine, scrappy, or intelligent each call to mind a different type of voice. While these words won’t completely define what language you’ll use and how you’ll present your content, they can point you in the right direction.
One helpful exercise is to expand on each of the adjectives you came up with to better describe your brand and ultimately define your brand voice.
Let’s say you went with “friendly”. Expanding on this adjective, you may come up with familiar, sympathetic, loyal, welcoming, receptive, helpful. You can then select the descriptive words that could pinpoint your brand voice. In this example, I’d go with helpful and sympathetic. Then, in this very basic example, you can filter all of your messages to make sure that they always have an accessible, compassionate tone and delivery.
Understand Who You’re Speaking To
To create a successful brand voice, you must also speak the same language as your audience. And you must also approach your content from their perspective.
As I mentioned earlier, it’s not about the content, it’s about the presentation. People develop affinities for the brands that they feel comfortable around– those who “get” them and explain difficult concepts in a new, interesting way that easy to understand.
Understanding your target audience will help define voice. But, on the flip side, having a strong voice will also develop a stronger audience.
If you cater to newbies, you may have a voice that’s a little more laid-back and inclusive. If you cater to hardened professionals, your voice may be more exact.
Understand What You Want and Don’t Want
How do you want people to feel when they interact and experience your brand? And, just as importantly, what type of relationship do you want to have with your audience?
Would you like to be their friend, teacher, mentor, coach, etc.? Your answer will affect the type of brand voice you create. A friend will inevitably be more casual than a mentor. A mentor will often be more inspirational than a friend.
Be Consistent with Your Voice
As I mentioned earlier, consistency is a huge part of building a successful brand voice. Make sure that the same voice shows up in every place where you share content. This includes your email opt-in messages, your shipping confirmation page, blog posts, tweets, your Facebook ads, your social media bios– everywhere.
This can be tricky if you work with a team of content creators. So, employ a style guide to maintain consistency across the board. If you’d like assistance in creating your very own style guide, be sure to download the template below.