Brand Voice - Getting it Right

So, you’re ready to define or refine your company’s brand voice. What does that entail? Some may even ask, what does that even look like? We all know your brand has a distinct personality of its own, but how did they get there? There are certain brands that don’t need an introduction. They have fully defined their brand voice and you know who they are. Nike anyone? When it comes to their brand voice, they have no competition. Don’t you want to have that same impact on your audience? If you do things the right way, you’ll be successful.

Here are 10 tips to use when defining your brand voice:

1. Research your target market

You want to know who your audience is to make sure you can clearly define how you should speak to them and what you should say. It’s important to determine the problem your company solves, being specific as possible. Even though you know where the initial reach is headed, you want to get granular enough to know the answer, whether that beauty product you're pushing is for moms or single people. Then, you have to determine why they use the product – is it for a self-care regimen or they just want to look good?

It’s really important to quantify your audience in terms of demographics and psychographics. If you’ve never had to do this, you may be saying what in the world? So, demographics includes age, gender, marital status, occupation, income, race, education and other traits, right, while the psychographics include interests and hobbies, goals – frustrations. You need to be inside their head to understand what their needs are before you can develop personas that matter. Only when you are able to create those personas will you determine the right brand voice.

If there’s a similar product or service on the market, the information you need is already out there so use it to your advantage.

2. Find out how your audience likes to communicate

Everyone has their own language. The research you conducted should have given you insight on how they want to communicate. Each generation interacts and communicates with brands differently. For instance, Gen Z will look to see whether the brand has social media accounts – especially Instagram and Snapchat. That’s where you’ll have to speak to them. Gen X will probably be on Facebook, but like the baby boomers, they respond to email. If your target audience falls with the baby boomers range, you should expect to speak to them through more traditional methods to get their attention. You must know your audience.

3. Choose a voice that aligns with your industry

Just like you need to know how to communicate with your audience, you must speak to them on their level. You won’t speak to young people the same way you’ll speak to grandparents. There is a distinct difference. Even if your brand is lighthearted, your word choice plays a major role in what you say and how you say it.

4. Do a brand audit to learn about your current voice

This is also called a content audit and can help you determine what your voice currently sounds like. It all starts from the beginning – look at your website. Which pages get the most traffic? Look at the content and see what has the most success. Next, look at your social media and advertisements. What performs best, and what doesn’t? Evaluate the tone and personality you’re conveying. Is your content in the voice you want for your brand? What voice do your readers hear now? If they don’t align, this is where you must make changes.

5. Do not copy your competitors While they say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, I beg to differ. When you’re branding your own company, you must have your own level of authenticity and transparency. Even if you’re studying how your competitors speak to their audiences, it’s never a good idea to copy what they are doing and saying. The very last thing you want is to be seen as a copycat. After all, who wants to be seen as number two? Here’s your chance to make your own impact by being uniquely you. Let your brand speak for itself.

6. Define what your brand voice is, and what it isn’t

When defining your brand voice, you must have do’s and don’ts to define your content. For instance, if you want to infuse playfulness into your brand voice, it may be okay to tell stories that entertain, or create memes that make people laugh. Even with that, you don’t want to poke fun at your customers or make too many references to what’s in because eventually, it becomes cliché. You need brand guidelines to highlight words to use and words to stray away from.

7. Create a brand voice chart

What is a brand voice chart? It’s basically an at-a-glance guide that defines the elements of your brand voice. There’s your adjective, describing how you sound, the description of the adjective and how it relates and reflects on your brand, and the do’s and don’ts. While this may seem difficult, it’s just like you’re describing a person. You can be as creative as you like, even using pictures or GIFs to showcase your elements. You should be able to define your brand in 3 to 5 words.

8. Make sure your brand voice matches all the other elements of your branding

Once you’ve figured out your brand voice, it’s important that it’s consistent. Your logo should align with your brand voice. If your company is fun and engaging, you wouldn’t have a stark, corporate logo. Your content calendar should center around topics that match your brand personality and industry. Every customer touchpoint should be aligned with your brand voice. From blogs to creatives, everything should work and sound alike. When working with others such as influencers, make sure their brand voice aligns with yours. This will keep your brand cohesive no matter what.

9. Create a document to share

Every company should have brand guidelines which include your brand voice chart. This will outline your brand, it’s voice and what your content creators need to know. Everything, including the mission, values, logo and style preferences should be in this guide.

10. Revisit your brand voice chart and guidelines every quarter to see how your brand has evolved

If you have new competitors or the brand is doing something different, it’s time to refresh the chart with new examples. You’ll also be able to assess what’s working well and what isn’t. If the copy isn’t working, you must reevaluate your do’s, don’ts and possibly your entire direction.

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