Your brand is shorthand for all of your product’s attributes, whether those are good or bad. Your brand voice communicates the personality of your brand and products through the content you publish. The content you publish conveys a personality, something that can be applied to content at every level to make you stand out. Maintaining a consistent brand voice lets that personality shine through.
What Brand Voice Means
Brands are considered assets by large companies that have them. Brand voice plays a role in the image behind the brand. Brand voice is the blog content about the Ronald McDonald House Charity, but it’s also the text on the side of the bags the sandwiches come in. It’s copywritten to resonate with the user, evoking meaning. The user has an internal experience, putting together the message of responsibility with the product McDonald’s sells to hold the brand in higher esteem. This matters because they will remember the story next time they are considering their fast food options.
How To Develop Your Brand Voice
1. Review Existing Content
If you already have written content, take time to review it. This includes everything from product descriptions to sales copy so that you’re reviewing from a holistic perspective. You’ll find inconsistencies if you haven’t done this exercise before. Search for traits your content has in common, and keep a list. Reflecting on what you have helps in determining what you want.
2. Examine the Tone of Voice
This is one of the most important things to consider when developing any new content. The brand tone is how you use your brand voice. Taking on an excited tone works great for sales copy because it’s meant to be enticing. But for product descriptions or an About Us page, using a reliable tone might work better. Categorizing the tones you use can help you develop a holistic brand voice. Some casual tone social media posts can make your brand more relatable even interspersed with more compassionate philanthropic or professional toned posts.
3. Look at Your Competition & Other Industries
If all of your competition uses the same branding techniques, will you stand out if you do too? Research outside your industry if you have a branding idea that you want to see in action. There are lots of ways to be quirky or adventurous or funny in the context of brand voice. Save examples and clippings, and don’t be afraid to look in totally different industries or at very popular brands. If you resonate with a particular brand, there’s likely a reason for it. Studying that brand will generate new ideas and strategic thinking.
4. Get Inspired
Once you’ve started researching, you’ll likely find yourself coming up with branding ideas. Take notes during this time on traits you see brands emulate and how they do it. Read up online about brand voice examples. Marketing magazines routinely cover award-winning branding campaigns, which can provide some exemplary examples to follow.
5. Reflecting on and Documenting Your Brand
At this point, you’ve done a lot of research on branding. Create a document outlining your existing brand voice to continually update as you develop. Keep archive copies of this document so that you can reflect yearly or ahead of product launches. If you have a mission statement or guiding principles, include them in the document. These often have your company’s vision baked into them, offering an excellent guide for your content.
6. Build a Buyer Persona
Knowing your audience is key when writing content. A buyer persona is based on sales data, reflecting a composite image of your average customer. Using these helps you target your copy so that you’re writing as if to a single person. This makes your brand voice come across authentically. You can use personas to decide on things like age-appropriateness or pop-cultural awareness.
7. Start a Word Bank
The language choices you make matter. In your review of your existing content, you should audit for commonly used words and decide if they’re speaking for your brand or not. Creating a word bank of words or slang you want to use in your storytelling that fit with your brand’s personality. The storytelling you do by creating a brand voice is very subtle. To go back to the McDonald’s comparison, the storytelling takes place in the mind of the customer given cues via brand voice. For example, the blog content on the company’s charity work is combined with the information written on the side of the McDonald’s bag to tell a story of a company that cares about people, a good look for a business that feeds people.
8. Start Collecting GIFs and Making Memes
Words matter, but picture and animated GIF usage speak louder, especially to younger generations who have grown up with memes. Sharing relevant content is the golden rule of social media, so don’t just share things you like. Think of this as your word bank. Just as you gathered words that evoke a certain personality, you want the same with your image library. You can refer back to this when creating content to keep your voice distinct but also consistent.
9. Create an In House Style Guide
Using correct grammar, spelling, and punctuation consistently helps you come across clearly in written communication. Adhering to the same ruleset across documents creates a unified appearance, and it allows you to rest easy knowing everything is written using the same rules. You can also use a prewritten style guide, like “The Elements of Style” by E. B. White and William Strunk Jr. This approach to consistency keeps quality high across documents.
In summary, your brand voice is already out there. Whether or not you want it to speak out from the rest of the crowd is up to you. Developing a unique voice for your brand requires research and hard work, but when the reward is building a recognizable and memorable brand it makes it worth it. Creating a document with brand voice guidelines and an image gallery sets you up for success with consistent content, letting you take charge of your brand and communicate with a consistent voice that speaks true to your vision for your company.