Do you ever feel like you’re speaking to a brick wall when you try to communicate with your customers? That’s because without a defined brand voice, your marketing and communications will be inconsistent, and customers will have a hard time understanding what it is that you’re trying to say. In this blog post, we’ll give you 9 tips on how to create your own brand voice (with 7 examples), so that you can start engaging with your customers in a more meaningful way.
What is A Brand Voice?
In marketing, brand voice refers to the overall tone and personality of a brand. It encompasses everything from the language used in advertising and social media to the design of the brand’s website and physical product packaging. A strong brand voice can help to differentiate a brand in a crowded marketplace and build consumer trust and loyalty. This way, a brand becomes both memorable and consistent, so people know what to expect from them.
When developing a brand voice, businesses should consider their target audience and what kind of message they want to communicate. It is also important to be consistent across all touchpoints, from initial awareness all the way through to purchase. Ultimately, a well-defined brand voice can be an invaluable asset in driving business success.
9 Tips on Creating Your Own Brand Voice
Looking for tips on how to create or revise your own brand voice? Look no further! Brand voice is such an important part of marketing, largely because of consistency. However, sometimes you need to revise it in order to attract new customers, keep existing ones interested, or reflect changing market conditions.
1. Identify Your Audience and Personas
The starting point for your brand voice should always be who your target audience is. You want to create a brand voice that appeals to the right people, whether that’s millennials or baby boomers, working-class or wealthy, traditional or offbeat. And, of course, there are industry-specific concerns with your audience too, especially with B2B brands.
Besides your audience, which can include people who are interested in what you have to say but unlikely to buy something, there’s your buyer persona. Part of your buyer persona will include audience data, but it’ll also involve the type of job they do or some other factor that makes them likely to buy. Whatever your buyer persona is, make sure that you pay close attention to what will drive sales within that group.
2. Study How Your Audience Talks Online
With the advent of social media channels and by examining social media posts, we can better understand the exact language that our target audience and personas actually use that we can consider as part of our own brand voice to align our voice with that of our target customer. From here, you’ll need to learn how to “speak their language” so you can strike up a rapport and build a relationship. Remember, relationship building is a major driver of sales, which is why influencer marketing and similar techniques are so powerful.
3. Start with Your Company’s Mission or Value Statement
There is no better place to start with your own brand voice than with your company’s mission or value statement. After all, these statements help define who you are as a company, and your brand voice should always reflect your values. In addition, these statements will help you express your brand voice in a way that helps demonstrate who you are as a company and why people should want to do business with you.
Further Reading: How to Make a Company Introduction Video
4. Identify Your Brand Tone and Personality
Does your brand already have its own unique personality and tone? Make note of what you find. For instance, many newer brands have a reputation for offbeat humor. Or, a nonprofit might have a naturally compassionate tone, especially in certain lines of work. Listen and see what your brand is already saying!
5. Audit Your Current Voice
Next, let’s look at our current voice, taking into account points 1, 2, 3, and 4, and look for ways to better align them all together. It could be that you’re already expressing your brand voice clearly, and you really only need some refinements. On the other hand, you might find that your existing voice is unclear, or that it doesn’t currently match well with your audience, mission, or buyer persona. If your brand voice is struggling, you may need a more significant adjustment.
6. Fill Out a Brand Voice Template with 3-5 Core Voice Characteristics
One of the easiest ways to build a brand voice is by filling out a template. These documents are helpful because they not only help you define each aspect of your brand voice, but they also help you express what to DO with this information. In other words, they help you lay down the rules of your brand voice. You can check out a sample template here.
7. Build a Style Guide that Includes Brand Voice
People in the publishing industry talk about “style guides” a lot. In short, these are documents that specify when you should use particular words, spellings, and language. For brand voice, you’ll also add the details you’ve decided on in the previous steps. One example might be ways to use a slogan or the specification that there be a certain amount of (tasteful) sarcasm.
8. Implement the Tone of Voice into Your Brand Communication
A brand voice is only useful if it is actually implemented! In most cases, this means you’ll immediately use the new brand voice on social media and any external promotions. You’ll also want sales to write branding-friendly emails, to the extent that this is appropriate (they do, after all, negotiate sales terms). Even in “branding neutral” communications, you should never violate the basics of your brand voice. Just remember, brand communication includes video and other multimedia communication, not just written.
Further Reading: What Branded Content is. What it’s Not. And How to Get it Right
9. Revisit and Revise the Brand Voice Chart as the Company Changes over Time
Things change, as we know all too well from what has happened in the last two years and the past six weeks. Some things that were tasteful back in 2019 are tone-deaf now, and some associations that were fine in January of 2022 have become toxic. Your brand voice, like your company, should be a living, breathing entity that should change over time and always be adapting. Otherwise, you’ll end up behind the times very quickly. And we all know how fast being out of date will start to threaten your competitive relevance. Your brand voice will quickly get drowned out, and we can’t have that!
7 Examples of Stellar Brand Voices
There is no better way to help accelerate the development of your own brand voices than by reflecting on and being influenced by some stellar brand voices that already exist. As we look at each of these examples, think about what you like (and dislike) about each brand’s voice. It could be that you’ll find something that you can adapt to your brand.
Mailchimp has a quirky company name-and its brand voice follows accordingly. Whether it’s the website or the program itself, Mailchimp is full of fun. For one thing, they cleverly use cultural references to get their point across. This can range from advertising to a humorous error message. In addition, they’re known for one-liners that are a little bit off the beaten path, yet tasteful. And finally, Mailchimp uses a lot of colloquial expressions (and graphics to match). They really understand, and imitate, the millennial quirky sense of humor. No dry reading here.
In an era where it seems that everyone knows everybody else’s secrets, privacy has become trendy. It used to be that privacy was something that only certain people really pursued. For people who don’t want everyone to know their business, Apple products have always held a significant appeal. After all, this is the company that famously refused to let the FBI into a criminal suspect’s iPhone, even with a warrant.
How does that affect Apple’s brand voice? First, they sell privacy as part of their branding, so it’s an important part of their company identity. In addition, Apple fosters a high level of brand loyalty based on their intimate knowledge of what customers want, which is privacy (and good performance).
You can easily describe Harley Davidson as having a strong and aggressive brand voice. While women do drive Harleys, motorcycles are generally considered masculine toys. In addition, most of us associate Harley bikes with strong, independent people who don’t necessarily follow society’s rules. This stereotype in some ways perpetuates the Harley-Davidson brand voice-or vice versa. And of course, the company is quite happy with this dynamic.
Coca-Cola has a very saturated market, where there are lots of similar products competing for the same customers. And a lot of consumers are extremely loyal to one brand of soda over another. For this reason, Coke can’t brag about innovation very often: only in terms of a new product release, which often competes with something else on the market.
Rather than doing “me too” advertising, Coca-Cola uses a friendly, celebratory, and familiar brand voice. Most of us grew up with Coke or one of its competitors. A bottle of soda can evoke memories of childhood pizza parties, hanging out with friends at the beach, road trips where the twist top was a lifesaver, and much more. Therefore, Coke evokes these memories, and the accompanying nostalgia, in their advertising. It’s highly effective because it keeps people interested in a legacy brand.
5. Whole Foods Market
Whole Foods is a grocery chain that emphasizes fresh, organic produce, vegetarian specialties, and sustainable/organic cuisine for a variety of diets. For this reason, their brand voice screams “fresh from the garden.” Clean lines in their stores, generously sized aisles, and other high-end features demonstrate their people-centric philosophy. All of these brand voice elements appeal to their core consumer base, the upper-middle class, and the above, the eco-conscious crowd that demands only the best.
Of course, this approach works perfectly. While some people of more modest means shop at Whole Foods, especially if they have special diets or need to get vitamins, people who fit Whole Foods’ buyer persona the best are the ones who fill their carts. In turn, happy and well-paid employees are very helpful when you need assistance.
6. Old Spice
Old Spice is one of those legacy brands that, until the last few years, was bad at branding. When you don’t have a lot of competition, it’s easy to get sloppy or not learn the most important aspects of branding. After a while, Old Spice got associated with old men and fell out of fashion with the younger men.
Luckily, they were able to counter this with a thorough branding drive. Now, they emphasize masculinity, challenging guys to “smell like a man.” In addition, their advertising features masculine, yet offbeat, humor. For that reason, Old Spice has become more popular with younger guys. Sometimes getting people to laugh is the best marketing tool out there.
Because Dove sells personal care products, they’re in a great position to promote good self-esteem and friendliness. So, in Dove commercials you’ll see a calm, friendly, encouraging, even nurturing brand voice. Models will treat their skin with care by using Dove instead of harsher soap, for instance. They’ll smooth on body lotion with a smile. Anything that promotes a sense of well-being. Dove even does some commercials that focus on accepting yourself for who you are rather than trying to uphold an unrealistic ideal. This approach is very effective, and very consistent.
It’s important to create a consistent voice for your brand across all platforms. By developing a strong brand voice, you’ll be able to connect with your audience on a deeper level and build trust over time. Then, you should be able to increase your brand following online and boost your customer base. Have you tried creating a brand voice for your business? Comment below and let us know how it went!
Hero Photo by Vika Strawberrika on Unsplash