What is Brand Voice?
A brand voice is the unique personality a brand takes on in all of its communication channels. And it’s not just about the words in your brand messaging. It’s also about your brand’s visual identity. Defining a brand voice is important for creating a consistent experience and messaging regardless of which individual is creating the content. A strong brand voice also helps people remember and relate to your company. In short, a brand voice shapes your brand identity and creates brand loyalty.
When is Brand Voice Used?
Your brand voice is used, well, anywhere you interact with customers and prospective customers. Some examples include
- Social media posts
- Content marketing
- Video content
- Customer support
Brand Voice vs. Brand Tone
Brand voice and brand tone are used interchangeably sometimes, but they don’t quite mean the same thing.
Brand voice is your company personality. It is consistent across all channels.
Brand tone: is the emotional response of your brand voice. You make it appropriate to the situation that you’re communicating or writing about. It demonstrates that you understand what your target audience is feeling, and can empathize appropriately.
Basically, your brand voice is the same everywhere and you can use different tones for different situations.
How to Build Your Brand Voice
So how do you build your own brand voice that will stand out from the rest? Follow these steps!
1. Start with your company’s mission statement
Your mission statement and company values should be the foundation of your brand voice. Just as a human being’s personality is shaped by their core values, your brand’s personality should reflect what matters most to your business.
2. Be authentic
Consumers can tell when you’re trying too hard. Keeping your brand voice consistent with your company’s mission and offerings rather than chasing the trends will feel more authentic to them and set you apart from your competitors.
3. Audit your current brand voice
As you evaluate your current brand voice, ask yourself these questions:
- Do your brand communications speak your target audience’s language?
- Do they align with your brand purpose and values?
- What are the common themes and features?
- Are they influenced by trends?
- Are they more interesting or written better?
- What do they do well?
- Where do they need improvement?
4. Identify your target audience
Who you’re selling to makes a world of difference in how you talk to them. For example, it wouldn’t make sense to use quirky jokes, memes, and gifs if your primary customers are government agencies, but that would be great if you target young creative types.
5. Create buyer personas
Buyer personas are crucial for informing brand voice and marketing strategy because they allow you to imagine your ideal customer base as one person and interact with them as such. Ask yourself these questions as you create them:
- What is the buyer like?
- Do they like more serious or humorous content?
- Do they listen to influencers?
- Do they like short or long content?
6. Survey your target audience
Talking to your target audience, including current customers and anyone who fits the demographics described in your buyer personas, is a great way to gauge how effectively you’re reaching them. Ask questions like:
- How would you describe [our brand]
- What would [our brand] sound like, if it were a person?
- Do you feel our tone of voice is appropriate?
7. Create a house style guide for brand voice
Even if you’re a mom and pop small business who does all the marketing yourself, creating a style guide will help you maintain a consistent brand voice and prepare you when the day comes that you need to hire a marketing team.
8. Review and move with the times
Your brand voice isn’t written in stone. What’s funny and trendy now could be dated and cheesy in a few years. But that’s okay! Review your style guide periodically, even if you’re not planning to rebrand, and make whatever changes you find necessary.
Strong Brand Voice Examples
Take inspiration from one of these big companies with strong brand voices.
The Starbucks brand voice guidelines focus on functionality and expressive telling of their story. Starbucks is all about their story as a brand and the story of the coffee they serve.
Uber’s brand voice is simple and straightforward so every user can understand it. Their style guide is very particular about their writing style and aims to keep the brand experience consistent in all countries and languages.
In their content style guide, MailChimp states, “We want to educate people without patronizing or confusing them. Using offbeat humor and a conversational voice, we play with language to bring joy to their work … We don't take ourselves too seriously."
Harley-Davidson’s voice is confident and aggressive. Their ideal customer is a rough, rugged biker, so their marketing evokes those qualities.
Through its 130 years, Coca-Cola’s marketing keeps its focus on positivity and happiness consistent. Whether it’s families eating dinner together or their iconic seasonal polar bear ads, they want you to associate the drink with joy.
We all know that “look at your man, now back at me…” commercial, but Old Spice wasn’t always a witty deodorant brand. Their 2010 rebrand was intended to set them apart from Axe, and to reflect a more modern version of masculinity.
Everything from Tiffany’s logo and trademarked shade of blue to the words in their communications exudes elegance. This is why they’re still iconic 184 years later.
Apple is the blueprint for branding that creates loyalty. That starts with their confident brand voice that inspires a feeling of closeness with their audience.
Nike’s inspiring, strong messaging keeps their sneakers and athletic gear popular with elite athletes, occasional gym-goers, and everyone in between.
Spotify uses humor and casual language in their advertising, in-app copy, and social media channels to appeal to their hip, pop-culture savvy customer base.
The language on Fenty Beauty’s website is bold, direct, and poetic. Since the company prioritizes inclusivity, their brand message is that of self expression and artistry rather than the “hiding your flaws” angle many other cosmetics companies take.
How Sav Can Help
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