When it comes to content marketing, brand voice is one of those things that's easy to grasp but hard to master. That's because you already have a brand voice, whether you know it or not.
Your brand voice is a piece of your overall branding strategy, and is just the umbrella term for the word choices, attitudes and values your company uses when talking with customers. Most businesses aim to be polite and professional in their communications, but don't go deeper than that.
The most successful companies however, focus on creating a cohesive, unified brand identity and voice, which sets them apart in the market and builds loyalty. People want to buy from brands that they connect with emotionally.
There's no shortage of strong brand voice examples out there to study:
- Coca-Cola: Positive, joyful and friendly
- Dollar Shave Club: Witty, humorous and sharp
- Skittles: Zany, weird and creative
- Harley-Davidson: Strong, tough and independent
Fortunately, great brand voices aren't just reserved for the industry leaders or those with deep pockets. With just a little effort, you can build a better voice for your company—one that you'll be proud to share and your customers will want to interact with. Here are three tips to get started:
Know Yourself First
As we mentioned, brand voice isn't just about words; it's about the attitudes and values you put on display while using those words. Who are you and what do you stand for?
Think about your company's mission and vision, and how you are translating those core values into all aspects of your communications. If your company is a tech firm built on being bold and taking risks, how does that come through in your word choice and tone? How does it differ from a financial firm that prides itself on being a safe and authoritative advisor?
As leadership expert Simon Sinek says, "inspired leaders and the inspired organizations—regardless of their size, regardless of their industry—all think, act and communicate from the inside out." That means knowing your company's values on a deeper level, and channeling those into every thing you say and do.
Know Your Audience
You can polish and edit your words as carefully as you want, but unless you're speaking in a way that resonates with your target audience, your efforts will likely fall short. By understanding your customers' expectations, motivations and desires, you can hone your brand voice to address those more directly.
Conducting customer research is a time-tested way to understand how your audience feels about the world, and your brand in particular, but you don't have to invest in a big survey project.
Web tools like SurveyMonkey and Typeform allow you to reach customers directly with short surveys, while social listening platforms can show you what customers are saying about your brand (both good and bad).
Keep it Consistent
Effective brand voice is all about striking the pitch-perfect tone for your company every time, whether it's in a social media post or signage in a store. If you're serious about creating a more consistent voice across your organization, you need to set some rules and be ruthless about editing out that which does not fit.
A brand voice guide is essential if you don't already have one. It should offer specific writing guidelines, including
- Qualities/values your brand embodies
- Qualities/values your brand does not embody
- Recommended and restricted word lists
- Guidance on specific situations (product launches, complaints, etc.)
If you already have a variety of different communications out there, consider an audit. Do your pieces reflect your values and attitude in an authentic way? Do they target your customers effectively? Consider eliminating any piece that doesn't measure up, and replacing with on-voice writing.
Consistent brand voice is one of the markers of a successful brand strategy. If you need more help with your branding for the year ahead, or have more questions as you get started on your branding journey, reach out to the digital marketing experts at Informatics!