Learn how to refine and develop the tone of your branding message, while also creating a consistent experience for clients and customers.
If you’re a business owner, you know that branding is key. But what many business owners don’t realize is that having a clear and consistent brand voice is just as important as the visuals and messaging of your brand.
In this post, we’ll discuss why defining your brand voice is so important and how you can go about developing it. We’ll also share some tips for putting your brand’s voice to good use.
So if you’re looking to take your business to the next level, keep reading!
Your brand voice all boils down to how you convey a unique personality through your writing.
This could be the tone or cadence you choose to speak in. It could be as simple as your typical grammar style, or if you choose to break some grammar rules. Your brand personality could mean not using contractions, or how you speak about yourself – does it sound like “I,” “y’all?’’ Does it have swear words?
It’s also the word choices you select. Depending who your audience is, your brand voice might mean speaking to your audiences at a Grade 3 level. This can sometimes be necessary for the everyday consumer. Advanced language might be more suitable to those more specialized clients who are comfortable with jargon or industry-specific references.
None of these choices for how you convey your brand voice are wrong; they’re all personal to how you want to share your voice.
Defining your brand voice is all about finding a common language – because the power of a unique brand voice is priceless.
This means speaking in a common voice and using a common language. It’s not just your business’ voice or your voice as the founder.
Your brand voice must create a common language between your voice as a business AND the ideal customers.
Do you know your brand voice? Here’s how to find it.
There’s several steps involved in the brand voice design process, and several different things I recommend to help facilitate it.
An easy place to start is to figure out what Level of Customer Awareness your ideal customer is at.
Knowing their Level of Awareness your customer will help you define how you speak to them.
You can also map out your ideal customer’s journey – this includes knowing how they speak right now, after meeting you and engaging with you, buying from you, and how they might continue the relationship.
Depending on which phase of the customer journey you’re targeting, the way you speak to them may be different.
For example, with long-term or repeat customers, you could make references to other programs/services, use the terminology/jargon for what you teach/offer, and be more casual since you’re more like friends than strangers.
Another way to define your brand voice is by mining customer reviews – reading these can help you pull out key words for how they describe your product, and digging into what type of feelings they share about it too.
Something that can help is understanding your Brand Archetype Mix (archetypes originate from psychoanalyst Carl Jung). This is something we use to understand more about what makes you attractive to the customer. There are 12 in total, and to learn more, you can watch this video.
I recommend working with someone who is experienced in brand archetypes and can help with implementing their different storytelling techniques to create your voice. Digging deeper into yourself to understand more about who you are and how to apply it will make it unique!
Now that you’ve spent the time thinking about everything I mentioned above, you’re ready to put your brand voice into action and get creating!
A few companies that are killing it with their brand voice
There’s no shortage of brands who have successfully defined their brand voices and grown their businesses as a result. These companies have grown to the level they’re at today because they’ve chosen a tone that empowers their target customer.
Here are a few examples:
- Dollar Shave Club: Offering a no-frills razor, their brand voice speaks to the mass consumer who has strayed from the luxury route of hair removal – all while keeping their voice blunt, like a friend. They’ve successfully used humor as part of their brand to sell their low-cost membership offering, and in turn, built a loyal fan base of people looking for a more cost-effective solution to their pricey-competitors.
- Lululemon: the athletic wear fan-favourite hangs their hat on speaking to the customer and telling them what they look good in, and what they deserve. With phrases in their email campaign like “what will you do in the right bra?,” they successfully speak to the customer by evoking feelings of aspiration and belonging to fill consumers with motivation and empowerment to achieve all their health-related goals.
- Uber: the mother of all services to get you to where you want to go, or get something to you, Uber’s brand voice is considerate, bold and consistent. Using simple and direct language, Uber successfully speaks to their audience in first person, and uses a conversational tone of voice which instills trust just as a friend would.
What these brands have in common is they are memorable, and that’s because they’re consistent and they evolve.
If you’ve done lots of thinking about your ideal brand voice and want to bring it all together, a style guide can keep everything in one place and help guide you and your company in executing it. A brand style guide is a visual document that outlines how your business looks and speaks to the world, and pairs with your brand voice.
Here are some tips to consider when defining your brand voice:
- Tone: is it appreciative, serious, or academic? It’s important to think about the tone of the words you choose – are they positive, or formal? It’s important to ask yourself what feeling you want to evoke with the tone of the language you use. When thinking about tone you may also want to inject humour into your tone, and use more light-hearted language.
- Cadence: this is all about the pacing of text. How many words are you using in a sentence? Do you use basic, short sentences, or are they long and reaching the point of potential run-on sentences? Are they very flowery and adjective-filled? It’s important to think about how complex your words are.
- Intentional grammar choices: asking yourself if you’re writing the way you speak is key when being intentional about grammar choice. Do you want to use emojis in your text to convey feelings? Or do you leave these out all together because you want to appear professional and it would be inappropriate? Word choice and grammar choice all play a role in conveying your brand voice.
- How you speak about yourself: when you refer to yourself, do you use words like “I, we, our?” How you refer to yourself has an impact in shaping your brand voice. Do you use terms like “entrepreneur” or “freelancer?” Certain words have connotations and may be taken in differently by audiences, so this is why you want to be intentional about how you describe yourself.
- How you address your audiences: in what terms do you use to speak to your audiences? You want to be intentional about your choices around how you refer to them and be as consistent as possible.
- Profanity: do you use swear words in your writing? If so, do you feel they are justified in creating emotion in a certain scenario you’re trying to describe? You will want to think about your audience, right down to their age. For example, if they are young it would not be viewed favourably to use this type of language.
- Grade level: use simple language and word choices – think of what a Grade 3 would be comfortable reading and understanding. Keeping language simple ensures things won’t get lost in translation and will be understood easily. Always be speaking to your audience’s level of understanding.
In addition to the above – you’ll want to decide how you plan to share your brand voice – ask yourself how you’ll roll it out to others within your business.
Creating your brand voice is about personal discovery, and finding your values as a business and yourself personally. Making these little decisions about how you discover your brand voice add up, and can all be done in advance to help guide and keep you grounded in staying consistent with your brand voice.
Putting your brand voice into action
Once you’ve defined your brand voice, applying it across your various platforms is key to keeping it consistent. This is especially useful across two key areas where you’ll communicate – social media and websites. The easiest way to do this is to capture it in a document or guide, using some of the tips I shared above. Once it’s laid out, it can help others who might write or post for you to keep it flowing and in check. Here are some ways to put your brand voice into action successfully:
- Put it front and center: The home page is usually the very first place your user will land. This is the perfect opportunity to embody the essence of your brand voice and give a flavour of who you are.
- About me: This is a great place to showcase your brand voice and let readers know a bit about you, and importantly what you can do for them.
- Be consistent: if you’re posting across multiple platforms, it can be easy to get lost and forget to be consistent with your language. Be sure to apply your brand voice in not just one, but all places.
- Speak how you write: Posting content is just one half of your brand voice – the other is how you respond. It’s important to weave your brand voice in how you engage with your community online, and that includes being open to feedback on how you communicate.
Your brand voice isn’t going to change super frequently, but it will evolve. Think in terms of years here. If five years have passed since you created your brand voice, you’ll need to think about switching it up. Even small tweaks to your logo can give you a good push to update your brand voice and show the evolution your brand has gone through overall.
Doing it right, as early on as possible is the key. A strong, accurate messagewill help with everything – marketing sales, profit, stability – and your confidence.
If you enjoyed this blog, and want to take a deeper look at some of the brand voice techniques I discuss here, download the complimentary checklist “8 Ways to Find Your Brand Voice” from our Resources page!