When it comes to branding, people often get lost in the idea of visual identity and graphic design. Fonts, colors, and designs take up most of the attention and even though the content plays a big role in branding, it can be hard to find a clear voice, so people’s intentions with content can get easily misplaced.
However, in an age where zillions of designs are sent out in the world every minute, a unique brand voice can help you stand apart from the crowd and play the game by your rules.
What is brand voice?
But what exactly is voice when it comes to a brand? Brand voice is the personality of your brand. It is how your brand looks, speaks and behaves. It comprises of emotions which dictate the tone, the language and the reception of your brand.
Imagine two people relating the same story to you on different occasions. One makes use of distinct imagery, emphatic phrases, humor, colloquialism and a powerful delivery, leaving an impact on you long after you have forgotten the details of the story and the other tells it as it is, they merely describe the events, albeit comprehensively, but without a personal touch. A similar difference is created between brands with a distinctive brand voice and brands without one.
Whenever and wherever your brand speaks, it uses its brand voice. You can be speaking to consumers, to other businesses, to the media, in networks, conferences, through brochures or newsletters, or social media posts, but regardless of where and to whom, brand voice ensures that when you speak, people listen.
5 tips for refining your brand voice
Now that we have specified the importance of a brand voice, let’s take a look at 5 tips that can help you establish, create and maintain a distinctive and powerful brand voice.
Be your own Critic
Gather all the content you have posted till date, in ads, posts, announcements or otherwise. Bring it all in a single space and whittle through it.
Cut out the parts you think add no value to your own unique brand, the parts you think could as easily have belonged to your rivals and the parts that look plainly out of place and have no consistency with other aspects of your content.
What you will have at the end of this process is your brand voice, unadulterated. From here, you can start honing it. You can use this deck of content as a guide, and create more pieces that are in uniformity with it. Or you can get creative, add or subtract a few elements, and evaluate what works going forward and what does not.
Set out the main theme of your brand
After going through the material you have produced till date, you should be able to understand the main underpinnings of your brand. Don’t worry, it’s not difficult.
Simply see what three adjectives you can use to describe the work that you have chosen as an embodiment of your brand voice in the previous point. It can be factual, rational and realistic or it can be passionate, quirky and humorous. You can choose any direction.
The themes of your brand voice will also vary depending on your target audience so don’t get caught up in abstracts, try to be as specific as possible about the kind of content you have created and that you want to create in the future.
Maintain a brand voice document or chart
A brand voice document or chart is a document of reference for anyone who is assigned the task of writing for your brand, irrespective of the department and regardless of whether the writing happens in-house or through freelancers.
The brand voice document comprises of company’s core values, its mission statement, and its characteristic traits or themes. It sets the direction for common vocabulary, brand phrases, buzzwords and trends and examples to be followed.
Curate a kind of do’s and dont’s list. Take care to include lots of examples, both of what falls within the intended writing style and what falls too far outside of it.
Define your tone
So you have developed a voice. Now you know what your brand stands for, what it wants to say, and to whom it wants to connect. But the how of the matter is still left to be figured out.
Say, the theme of your brand is factual, rational and realistic, what will be your tone in different circumstances? A good point to note here is that tone varies depending on your relation with the receiver, which is the audience.
For instance, if you are addressing the media you can take a confident, authoritative tone which is formal overall, but if you are launching a product or reacting to an open complaint or social media response, the tone will have to change and be more candid and sincere even if it is formal in the end.
You might find some discrepancies between your vision for your brand voice and its reception by audiences. Now, it is important to not get discouraged if some of your content is not received as well as you planned it to.
Set designated times for reviewing your brand voice and change what needs to be changed. Omit the words that have gone out of use over the past few months, trends that you can no longer rely on and language that makes you sound like your grandparents.
Review every part of your brand voice and make sure that it continues to align with the company’s core values and goals.
With all this information about brand voice, the only thing left to do now is to get started and build the brand of your dreams.