BRAND VOICE: The Why, What, and How
Brand voices are a key driver of brand recognition. The tone of voice used can leave as much of an impression on the audience as the business’ visual branding such as logo, font style or colour palette.
Using a consistent, unique brand voice is important because customers value relatability and emotional engagement. They like to know that the business reaching out to them understands their stories and cares about human connection.
A recent study indicates that audiences place great importance on how engaging, transparent, and memorable a brand is. Without a strong and identifiable brand voice, these factors are impossible to reach.
What exactly is a brand voice?
Packaging. Advertising. Websites. Social media. Videos. Newsletters. Emails. Literally any form of communication that your business makes is another opportunity to use your brand voice.
A brand voice is the personality a business takes on for all types of external (brand to customer) or internal (brand to employee) communication.
It is the tone of voice used, the timeliness of responses, the phrases and slang used, the stylistic choices such as use of punctuation or emojis, and even the actions or trends they participate in online.
One of our favourite examples of a fun, immediately familiar brand voice is Duolingo. Their approach to brand voice is light-hearted, supportive, trendy, and even slightly awkward which works wonders for consumer relatability.
Duo’s hilarious presence on TikTok has caused the brand to amass 4.4M followers and over 84M likes, with the majority of videos the account has uploaded going viral within hours.
The silly brand voice Duolingo adopts for TikTok is reflective of the recognisable personality that Duo uses across each different platform, but dialled up to appeal to the primary user base of TikTok: Generation Z.
However, what works for Duolingo won’t work universally. If you are a lingerie company, perhaps you would take a more sultry approach. If you are a funeral director, perhaps you would be more empathetic and less… twerky?
There is also an element of adapting your brand’s unique voice to accommodate for the primary audience of each method of communication.
For example, the casual tone of voice one would use for Instagram marketing would not be the same as the professional voice being used for company reports. Personality can shine through both, but the underlying tone would change depending on the audience and topic.
It can be a difficult process to find your brand voice, but it is an essential process to go through if you want to establish a point of difference between your business and its competitors.
How do I create a brand voice?
- Reflect on your brand’s mission statement and core values.
Your brand’s mission statement and core values are the heart of what defines your business. Take some time to sit down and go over these.
A great way to do this is by writing them down and reflecting on what these values mean to you.
- Where did they come from?
- What inspired them?
- How do they inspire you?
- Establish the personality traits of the brand.
From step one you can really start to pinpoint the personality traits of the brand.
If your business values sustainability, your personality might be caring and conscious, using nature inspired language. If your business values diversity, your personality might be friendly, using progressive and inclusive language.
Make a mind map of the personality traits your company might have based on each value.
- Is there anything unique you can lean into?
- Is there a trend forming that might separate you from competitors?
- Identify your target audience and their personality type.
Now, think about what your audience likes and what is most likely to be relatable to them. Ultimately, you want to create a brand voice that will drive engagement, build relationships and really connect with your consumers.
Make a note of the demographics of your audience and ask yourself:
- Is the audience local, national or international?
- What age does my brand appeal to most?
- How much does my audience care about trends?
- What does my audience care about politically, socially, environmentally?
- Research the voices of brands that you know and love.
A great way to draw inspiration and understand where gaps in the market are is through research. Make a list of which brands are most memorable to you and sift through their communications. Next, repeat this process with focus on your competitors.
- What do I like and would like to adapt for my own brand?
- What do I dislike and want to avoid in my own brand’s communication?
- Which traits have been trending?
- Is the tone of voice more casual, formal, etc?
- Which platforms is the brand using and where are the gaps?
- Create a style guide that states the brand voice clearly.
By this stage of brand voice development you should have a pretty solid idea of how you want your brand’s voice to sound. The next part of the process is to create a style guide or update the guide you have to include brand voice.
This step is necessary for consistency, quality and keeping everybody within the company on the same page.
Document areas such as:
- Brand personality (less specific to voice).
- Voice qualities (such as excited, serious, scholarly, worldly, etc).
- Tone of voice (keeping in mind the content and context of the communication).
- Style of writing (such as use of emojis, punctuation, slang, etc).
- A glossary of preferred terms (such as referring to customers as ‘guests’, for example).
- If you have a mascot, the way they communicate (Are they a child with limited vocab? Do they merely grunt as opposed to speaking?).
We recommend creating a separate guide to communicating during a crisis or if the brand must address something on a more serious note. Public relations is a wee bit different to marketing.
- Continue to review and evolve.
Alright, you’re all done! …For now.
Continuously updating brand voice is fundamental to the ongoing success of the brand. If you notice audience interaction or engagement is slipping, perhaps it is time to start the process again to reassess your brand voice.
But that’s ok! You’ve done it once, you can do it again!
Our awesome team here at Englander Davis are professionals in brand voice and communication and would love to help your business thrive.
From website development to social media and blogging, we are here to assist with all your digital marketing needs.
Reach out today to see how we can drive real results for your business by making your brand’s personality sparkle.