Establishing your Brand VoiceMar 24, 2021
Some things about establishing a brand, like color scheme, font and logo, are obvious. But just as important is your brand voice and tone. If people couldn’t see your logo, would they know by the way your brand “speaks” that it’s you? Voice and tone help get your brand’s message across. And if The Little Mermaid taught us anything, it’s that your voice means everything.
Think about some noteworthy brands. Nike’s slogan to “Just Do It” is as well-known as its logo. The slogan—and the rest of Nike’s advertising—conveys strength, determination and perseverance. Nike’s brand voice and tone echo what they stand for: pushing yourself to achieve your athletic goals.
Disney is another good example. Disney does pretty much everything well, and you’d be hard-pressed to find someone who doesn’t recognize that iconic castle, the “D” in “Disney” and its status as “the most magical place on Earth.” Disney’s voice and tone are happy, wondrous and family-friendly. They are about making dreams come true for children and adults alike.
Nike and Disney are two very well-established, highly recognizable brands. But everybody has to start somewhere. Here’s my advice for establishing your brand’s voice and tone.
Step 0: Identify Your Ideal Customer
The only reason this isn’t Step 1 is because identifying your customer base should be part of your basic marketing strategy. Who do you want to reach? Consumers or other businesses? Families or fashionistas? Understanding your target market and how they prefer to communicate will make it a million times easier to establish a firm voice and tone.
Step 1: Analyze Existing Content
Gather all the content you’re currently putting out there—social media, print advertising, videos, you name it—and take a thorough look. If something doesn’t sound like you or it sounds too much like a competitor, chuck it. The idea is to identify what sounds most like your brand (or how you want your voice and tone to sound).
Step 2: Describe Your Brand in Three Words
While you’re analyzing your current content, start to think about descriptors for your brand voice. If your brand were a person, how would you describe it? For example, a beauty brand might be poised, elegant and maybe a little haughty. In contrast, a home improvement brand would be described as hardworking, utilitarian and no-frills.
Once you’ve picked a few descriptors for your brand, break them down further and identify how they’ll show up in your language. The Content Marketing Institute gives the following example, which works well for a brand like Etsy:
Authentic: genuine, trustworthy, engaging, direct
Passionate: expressive, enthusiastic, heartfelt, action-oriented
Quirky: irreverent, unexpected, contrarian
Step 3: Create a Brand Voice Chart
This is another idea borrowed from the Content Marketing Institute. Create a chart with four columns, one each for: voice characteristic, description, do and don’t. Using Etsy as an example, here’s what it would look like:
Use this chart when you’re writing content for your brand. After a while, the voice and tone will come naturally and you’ll become an expert at how to word things so that they’ll resonate with your customers and sound like you.
Step 4: Revisit Your Brand Voice and Tone
Change is inevitable, and it’s likely that over time, aspects of your business will change. As your goals, products and services change, you may need to adjust your brand voice and tone, too. Once in a while, revisit the chart and add new descriptions, examples, dos and don’ts, etc. You might also want to take a look at some of the things you’ve already put out there and figure out what’s resonating with customers. This is super easy to do with a social media tool like Sprout Social. Try some A/B testing with your messaging and see what the analytics say.
What it comes down to is this: Yes, your brand logo, font and color scheme are important—critical, even. But it’s just as crucial to establish a unique voice and tone that sets your brand apart from your competitors. After all, it’s always better to be yourself!
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