You have a unique way of communicating. Your voice is different from anyone else’s – and you tell your personal story best. The same should be said for your business.
A business’s brand voice is a critical aspect of its public-facing persona. It is:
- How your company communicates with its audience.
- A piece of how your company is perceived and the experience it provides.
- The vocabulary, the tone and attitude in all your written content.
- Part of what makes your company stand out among competitors.
- A way to enrich your company identity.
Whether your brand voice is authoritative and formal or casual and warm, a strong brand voice should reverberate across your marketing communications.
Without a consistent brand voice, your company can easily end up with a disconnected assortment of voices and tones in the content you’re distributing. It not only confuses audiences, but it can derail business goals or alienate potential leads.
An excellent example for an unforgettable brand voice is Coca Cola. Their brand voice can be described as friendly, easygoing and fun. This is reflected in their “Share a Coke” campaign. It can also be clearly heard in their brand slogan between 2009 and 2015, “Open happiness.” Coca Cola’s brand voice immediately elicits warm and fuzzy feelings (quickly followed by an intense sugar rush) that is memorable and reinforced each time you see a Coca Cola ad, a billboard, or even cherry-red bottles lined up at the store.
How to Find Your Brand Voice
Discovering your company’s voice isn’t as hard as one might assume (and it gets even easier when you partner with a marketing firm well-versed in anything brand related!). These questions can guide you.
- What is your company’s core identity? This includes your vision, mission and values.
- Who is your target audience? How do you want them to feel when they come in contact with your business or its messaging?
- How does your team describe the company? Sometimes, brainstorming with your internal team is the best way to discover what descriptors stand out the most about your business.
In order to fully understand the brand voice discovery process, let’s pretend you’ve started a vegan ice cream truck company. You have perfected your creative flavors, you’ve secured a fleet of hybrid, tricked-out ice cream trucks and you’ve identified some neighborhoods where you think you’ll be especially successful. You’re mainly marketing through your website, social media and coverage in local food publications – you need a robust brand voice to spread your message in the best way possible.
In order to discover your brand voice, you ask yourself the questions above, and draft up the following guideline:
- Our company’s vision is about showing the world that ice cream can be delicious, even without using any animal products.
- Our mission is delivering accessible and yummy plant-based ice cream to neighborhoods across the city with sleek, hybrid trucks, connecting with the community and becoming a household name in the food truck scene.
- Our values include educating the public about the benefits of eating vegan ice cream, supporting local businesses and culture, using only the best ingredients and creating a fun and relaxed environment for customers.
- People who already love ice cream and seek out the best street food. They may already be vegan or curious about a plant-based diet – but they don’t have to be! They might just like ice cream. Our audience is people of all ages but skews toward ages 25 to 45.
- We want our customers to feel happy and welcomed when they encounter our brand. We’re vegan, but we’re not exclusive. Anyone can enjoy our ice cream. Ice cream can be a way to celebrate, to connect with loved ones or even a way to treat yourself – therefore, it should elicit excitement.
- The ice cream truck model might feel nostalgic to some audience members, who remember chasing an ice cream truck as a child.
- Our employees see the company as lighthearted, fun, innovative and quality-focused.
- There’s a laid-back and unpretentiousness that comes with being a food truck; our employees see it as an easy way to connect with the casual passerby, whether or not they enjoy vegan ice cream already.
How to Amplify Your Brand Voice
When you have a good idea for who you are as a company, your brand voice will emerge naturally. Then, document your verbal identity as part of your brand guidelines. Getting it down on paper will seamlessly communicate your brand voice to writers, marketers, freelancers or other content creators, and ensure messaging is consistent across all platforms.
If we continue the vegan ice cream truck example from above, the verbal identity aspect of your brand guidelines might include:
- Tone: Informal, friendly, educational, open, witty, good-natured
- Brand persona: Young to middle-aged adult. Appreciates a creative or unusual ice cream flavor. Curious about (or already familiar with) a plant-based lifestyle. Knowledgeable about the latest food trends. Isn’t looking for a high-end or exclusive experience.
- Vocabulary: Phrases and words to use include high quality, locally sourced, innovative flavors, plant-based, vegan, creamy, celebrate, treat yourself.
When it comes to brand voice, the more detail the better. It’s a critical part of your brand and deserves some time and thought. Once you’re comfortable with your brand voice and it aligns with your company’s goals, developing a strong content strategy and messaging framework becomes much easier.
It can be advantageous to disseminate the core components of your brand voice and coordinating messaging framework through company-wide or departmental presentations, depending on the size of your organization. This allows for an open discussion about the brand voice and how to amplify it in day-to-day communications. It’s an invaluable resource for sales, customer service, HR and other public-facing teams.
The marketing and creative professionals at Aker Ink help companies hone their brand voice – and we’re always eager to dive into the branding process. It can be challenging, but we know it’s absolutely necessary and ultimately rewarding. Sometimes an outside perspective is exactly what your company needs to get your brand voice on key.