Five Steps for Developing Your Brand Voice

Let’s face it: People are constantly bombarded with brand messaging. Your visual brand can only get you so far in this crowded marketplace. To really stand out, you need a consistent and distinctive brand voice.

WHAT IS A BRAND VOICE?

Brand voice is your unique personality. If your brand was a person, what would that person’s story be? How would they sound and what would they say? Equally important is what would they avoid saying in order to authentically appeal to the intended audience.

When well-executed, people will immediately recognize your brand voice. Take Apple for instance: A hallmark of Apple ads is minimalist visuals and copy, all very carefully crafted to deliver a quick and evocative message. This carries through all forms of media, including the website, where Apple’s brand voice is apparent through language choices that are simple, direct and open.

Of course Apple has a marketing budget beyond what most companies could fathom. But it doesn’t take a huge budget to ensure your brand voice is on target. Just check out these tips.

HOW TO DEVELOP YOUR OWN BRAND VOICE

1. Look to your values and mission

Your company’s core values and mission statement will be the source from which your brand personality flows. These important documents encapsulate who your brand is and create the adjectives that define its personality. 

2. Review your communications

Get inspiration for creating your brand voice by auditing your current communications. Is your voice inconsistent due to multiple writers and art directors? Note how your target audience interacts with various messages. What voice traits do your top-performing posts, newsletters and ads have in common?

This review process gives a snapshot of your brand’s current personality. It provides the basis for determining what language to eliminate and what to add in order to create a more complete and compelling picture of your brand.

3. Take a deeper look at your audience

Another way to formulate your brand voice is by scrutinizing your audience and marketing personas. You may find you’re reaching different audiences through different channels and will need to customize the language and tone of your voice to appropriately target each audience.

Make a list of brand traits, vocabulary and tone associated with each audience and medium. For instance, the millennial audience you’re targeting on social platforms will likely be alienated by language common to boomers. Conversely, a traditional radio audience will probably respond better to more mature language.

4. Add voice to your brand standards

When you’ve completed the groundwork and settled on your brand voice, make it official. Add what you’ve learned about your voice personality traits, vocabulary, tone, terms and phrases to your brand standards manual along with visual (fonts, colors, image style) and strategic guidelines. Include examples of both how to write within your intended brand personality, and how not to represent your brand.

Making the brand voice part of your brand standards manual will ensure a consistent marriage of visuals and voice, regardless of how many individuals and media platforms are involved in the marketing process.

5. Reevaluate your brand voice

Developing a brand voice is not a one-time thing. It should be evaluated and updated at designated times, such as during annual reviews or major events that alter your company’s marketing strategy.

Language and culture evolve – how you represented your brand five years ago might not seem current today. For example, GIF usage in social media wasn’t common five years ago but is now easily accessible on most of the major social media platforms.

Whatever you do, be authentic

Avoid trying too hard, being too trendy or straying too far from your current brand representation. Think of creating a voice as refining your brand, not redefining it. 

Finding your brand voice can be a daunting process. After all, it’s difficult to read the label from inside the bottle. Consulting a professional branding agency like Smith Kroeger can provide excellent insights and results. Get in touch at smithkroeger.com/contact/.