Your brand might not be a living and breathing organism, but it’s helpful to view it as such. For all intents and purposes, it should be treated much like a human being. Your brand has a personality with a unique flavor that sets it apart from any of your competitors. Identifying and leveraging this personality through an articulate brand voice will help you clarify who you are and how the marketplace should view you.
There are numerous ways to define what a brand voice is, but marketer Aashish Pahwa puts it best when he says, “Brand voice is the uniformity in selection of words, the attitude and values of the brand while addressing the target audience or others. It is how a brand conveys its brand personality to the external audience.”
A brand has a few distinguishing features that make it unique and recognizable in the eyes of consumers. There are visual characteristics – such as logos, color schemes, and proprietary marks – as well as more subtle, yet equally important elements like voice.
A brand’s voice consists of elements like word choice, tone, style, and attitude. Some brands have a classic, yet fun style (like Coca-Cola). Other brands have an in-your-face voice (like Dollar Shave Club). Then there are brands with quirky, humorous vibes (like Wendy’s).
Nobody can tell you what your brand voice should sound like, but there’s no questioning the fact that you have one.
For some reason, there are always a number of business owners and marketers who question the importance of brand voice. Whether it’s the perceived effort required in defining one or the commitment of developing strict parameters, something scares them off. What’s clear is that brand voice is integral to marketing success.
Here are some of the specific benefits companies – including both small businesses and Fortune 500 corporations – enjoy when they take the time to develop a brand voice:
Don’t assume that a brand voice is a box that your company checks off so it can be filed away alongside your mission statement and core values. It’s a critically important element of modern digital marketing – and one that shouldn’t be taken for granted.
Once you see the benefits of having a clearly defined brand voice, it doesn’t take much convincing to get the ball rolling. The only question that remains is, how do you do it? Well, here are a few of the tips, techniques, and elements that we believe matter most:
Your brand voice is more than a collection of words, but it’s helpful to start with words and then let everything else fall into place.
One effective exercise is to gather your team – it’s best if you can get employees from a variety of departments – and have a brainstorming session where you ask for words that describe your brand. Grab a marker and write down all of the words people offer up on a whiteboard.
By the end of the brainstorming session, you’ll have dozens of words. Now you begin the process of refining this list and trimming it down to only the words that are integral to your brand’s identity.
Despite only producing a collection of three to five words, this exercise provides a profound sense of clarity about who your brand is and how your brand communicates.
It’s not all about you. Your brand is trying to reach a specific group of people. So it makes sense that you’d tailor your brand to fit this audience.
Gather some audience research and figure out who exactly your target audience is, how old they are, where they shop, why they shop, and what pain points they have. Filtering your brand voice through these findings will give you a better result.
Many brands find it helpful to conduct a “this, not that” exercise. To do so, you simply fill in the blanks of the following sentence:
“We’re _____________, but we’re not _____________.”
Examples include: We’re sarcastic, but we aren’t rude. We’re professional, but we aren’t stale. We’re energetic, but we aren’t careless.
Sometimes you need these clarifying statements in order to develop a comprehensive view of your brand voice. Otherwise, it’s easy for a single word to be mistaken for something it’s not.
As we’ll discuss in the next section, consistency is an important element of content marketing. But while you should never stray from your brand’s core characteristics, there are unique ways in which you utilize your voice across different channels and mediums.
For example, your brand voice will be leveraged differently on Twitter than it will be in a 2,000-word onsite blog post. Preparing ahead for what this looks like will ensure you satisfy the relevant audience without deviating from your brand’s identity.
Your brand voice comes across in any and all content you produce for your brand. However, it’s most visible in certain areas.
Your brand voice is most likely to be highlighted in your social media replies, content calls-to-action, Instagram captions, direct messages with customers, email interactions, and website bios. When you’re aware of this, you can take particular care to ensure your brand’s voice is being used correctly at all times. No inconsistencies should be allowed. If any currently exist, now’s the time to go back and revise them to align with your newly developed voice.
Your task doesn’t stop with developing a brand voice and creating some fresh content to attach to your website and social media profiles. Perhaps the biggest challenge is to maintain consistency.
The most successful brand voices are the ones that never stray or deviate from their defining characteristics. There’s an intimate understanding of the brand and every interaction is consistent across each channel and touchpoint.
Consistency doesn’t happen by chance. Here are a few best practices successful brands rely on to maintain consistency no matter the circumstances:
As your business grows, it’ll become increasingly difficult to maintain consistency in your voice. The sooner you recognize this, the easier it becomes to correct potential mistakes and set your brand on a path towards success.
You’ve heard it over and over again: Content is king. But don’t confuse quantity of content with quality of content. You can pump out thousands of words of original content each day, but it’ll fall flat if it doesn’t perfectly articulate who your brand is and why you’re worthy of being listened to.
At SEO.co, we believe in crafting purposeful, on-brand content for our clients. We believe it’s better to have a few pieces of powerful content than dozens of thin, generic resources.
If you’re looking for an outsourced content partner that speaks your language, prioritizes consistency, and emphasizes quality, we’re here for you. Contact us today to learn more about our content marketing and link building service!