Your brand is how people perceive your business. Creating a strong brand identity is no easy task — especially considering how much competition there is out there. It’s essential for your brand to stand out in a crowded marketplace. But in the right way.
If, like most business owners, you want your company to have a strong brand presence, there’s a lot to think about. You need to have a clear understanding of your market and who your target audience is, for example. Then you need to come up with a memorable business name, document your core brand values and mission statement, design an eye-catching logo and choose which colours and fonts to use for the overall look of your brand. As well as all that, you need to create a website, set up social media accounts, create a content marketing plan and decide on an overall marketing strategy.
One of the things business owners sometimes overlook, though, is brand voice. But your brand’s voice is just as important as how it looks. Especially because nowadays, brands have so much more interaction with their customers via social media, instant messaging and web chat, as well as email, telephone and post.
In this article, we explain what brand voice is and why it is so important. We also give nine top tips on how to develop a successful brand voice and list some great brand voice examples to inspire you.
Brand voice is the personality a brand acquires in its communications and is used to present the brand to the world in a certain way.
Your brand voice should not change, and it must be used consistently across all marketing communications, including advertising, emails, internal communications, newsletters, press and PR releases, signage, social media posts, videos and your website.
Continue reading to find out why brand voice is important and for tips on how you can develop your own brand voice.
Your brand voice has the power to make your brand come to life. It is crucial that you put enough time and effort into creating a strong voice for your brand so that it remains at the forefront of people’s minds and enables you to build a loyal customer base that returns to you time and again. While the right name, logo and images are all essential for ensuring that your brand stands out, well-written content — such as high-ranking blog posts and engaging social media posts — can ensure it stays in the spotlight for longer.
A powerful brand voice is:
- Memorable — It makes a lasting impression on customers
- Unique — It is engaging and stands out from the crowd
- Relatable — It is relevant to your target audience
- Dependable — It remains consistent, so trusting and long-lasting relationships can be formed with customers
As long as it appeals to your target audience, don’t be afraid to give your brand a big personality with a distinct brand voice.
Here are nine top tips for creating a strong brand voice:
1. Refer to your mission statement and core values
As mentioned above, any successful brand will have created a mission statement. This is a document that explains what the company does and what its core values are. This document defines your brand’s personality traits, which will help you to determine the type of language you use when you interact with your customers.
If, for example, your mission statement describes your brand as a food delivery service with core values that include quality, sustainability and hygiene, your brand voice should reflect this with words and phrases like:
- “Only the very best” (to indicate quality)
- “Home-grown”; “organic” (to indicate sustainability)
- “Clean”; “fresh” (to indicate hygiene)
2. Remember who you’re talking to
Before you start selling anything, you should know who your target market is. That way, you’ll know where to concentrate your efforts. With branding, it’s important to identify your target audience so you know how best to communicate with them. For example, a company that sells surfboards to adrenaline junkies will have a communication style that’s completely different to a pension provider that tailors its products to teachers. The surfboard company is more likely to use abbreviations and slang, while the pension provider will use more reassuring, serious words and phrases.
Using language that resonates with your target audience will make them feel that your brand is for them, so get a firm grasp of who your customers are and keep them in mind whenever you write any type of marketing copy.
3. Create a buyer persona
Once you’ve established who your target audience is, you will be able to create a buyer persona to help you communicate with them more effectively.
Buyer personas are fictitious characters that represent a brand’s typical customer. To create one, list all their defining traits, such as:
- How old they are
- Where they live
- What they do for a living
- What their financial situation is like
- What their hobbies and interests are
- The type of music they listen to
- The TV shows they watch
- Which social media platforms they use
- What their social life is like
- What their sense of humour is like
- Their morals and values
- How they respond to certain situations
- Which other brands they like
Once you have built up a picture of what your typical customer looks like, you will have a better understanding of who you are talking to and what to say to them to get the best response. If, for example, comedies are their favourite type of TV show, you might consider using more casual, playful terms. Whereas customers who consume a lot of news may respond better to more formal language and academic content.
When creating your brand persona, though, do bear in mind that you should stay true to your core values and not lose authenticity by simply chasing trends.
4. Analyse your current brand voice
If you are rebranding, one of the things you will want to do is to analyse your current brand voice and determine what you do and don’t like about it.
It is important that you take a look at all your different types of communications so you can get a sense of what your brand voice is overall. Once you have picked out a few examples from each one, analyse them by asking questions like:
- Are they relevant to your target audience?
- Are they written in the language used by your target audience?
- Do they align with your mission statement?
- Are they well-written?
- What traits have they got in common with one other?
Once you’ve done this, take a look at your top-performing blog articles and social media posts and try to work out what it was about them that made them so successful. Once you have identified these key characteristics, you will be able to replicate them in your new brand voice.
You might also find it helpful to decide what you don’t want your brand voice to be. Start by writing out some of the characteristics you want to avoid. Then you can form an antithesis based on the opposites of those words. Plus, if you can identify the words and phrases you want to avoid, it will be easier to ensure your voice doesn’t go off-brand in the future.
Additionally, to get a real insight into how you are coming across, you can ask your target audience what they think of your brand voice. The easiest way to do this is to ask them to complete an online survey compiled of questions like:
- If our brand was a person, how would they sound?
- What three words would you use to describe our brand?
5. Understand the difference between brand voice and tone
Put simply, brand voice is what you say, and brand tone is how you say it.
While your brand voice should remain consistent across all marketing channels, your tone is your brand’s emotional response and can be adapted depending on the circumstances. For example, the tone of voice you use in advertising materials won’t be the same as the one you would use to respond to a customer complaint.
Because your tone can vary, you may find it useful to draw up a document that clearly states which tone to take in which scenarios.
6. Create a style guide
As soon as you’ve decided on the voice you want to adopt for your brand, you should compile your thoughts and ideas into a style guide. This is to give everyone in the business a point of reference for when they are writing in your brand’s voice. It will ensure that all your content, across all channels and departments, is aligned.
Start by reiterating your company’s mission statement and core values so that anyone writing content has your brand personality at the forefront of their mind. Then, outline three to five core voice characteristics and give examples of how they can be used across different types of communication. As well as including your brand’s personality traits, we recommend that you list some words and phrases for the writer to try to incorporate in their copy. It is also a good idea to include a section on how you don’t want your brand to sound, again giving examples to clarify this.
You may also wish to include a tone framework here, detailing how to adjust your brand tone across different channels.
7. Be consistent
Once you’ve created a style guide, you need to ensure that everyone adheres to it. Otherwise, putting it together will have been a wasted effort, and your brand will suffer.
From your complaints department to public relations and even HR, insist that everyone in the business adopts your brand voice and encourage them to refer to your style guide frequently to ensure they stay on track.
As well as making sure everyone has easy access to your style guide, you might want to consider running a brand voice course for in-house staff, as well as any remote content creators and external guest contributors.
As stated earlier, your brand voice must be used consistently in all marketing communications, including:
- Internal communications
- Press and PR releases
- Social media posts
- Your website
8. Schedule regular reviews
Things can become outdated quickly — especially in today’s fast-paced world. And that goes for language and how we communicate, too. So it makes sense to schedule regular reviews, where you look at your brand objectively to find out what is and isn’t working.
If your brand isn’t connecting as a result of your brand voice, changes need to be made. It’s important not to be disheartened when doing this, as all companies should be regularly reviewing their branding to avoid sounding outdated or out of touch.
9. Look at what other brands are doing
If you are struggling to come up with a strong voice for your brand, it might help to look at what some other brands are doing.
While it’s important to remember not to rip anyone else off, assessing your competition and knowing what it is that makes a brand stand out can give you an insight into how you can make improvements.
It can even help to assess brands in other industries, as you can get an idea of just how creative you can be. You can get a head start on this by reading the section below, which gives examples of some companies that have a compelling brand voice.
Examples of companies with a powerful brand voice
The best brand voice is one that can be identified even before you see who posted it. Some companies have nailed it in terms of brand voice. Here are some examples:
Back in 2019, Innocent launched a new ‘blue’ drink that people were saying was actually green.
This tweet is the perfect demonstration of Innocent’s playful, informal, friendly and direct brand voice.
Marmite’s daring “You Either Love It Or Hate It” slogan is so good the phrase “like Marmite” is used in everyday language to describe anything that divides opinion. Since this campaign was launched in 1996, Marmite has continued with this brand positioning by adopting a casual, cheeky brand voice and owning the fact that some people do hate it, which emits confidence and integrity.
Sometimes, silence speaks volumes. And Apple seems to have capitalised on this with its branding. While it would be untrue to say that the brand has no voice at all (the language it uses on its packaging is simple, direct and jargon-free, for example), Apple is much quieter than its competitors — which is surprising, considering it is the most valuable brand in the world. Take the brand’s Twitter feed, for instance. When you go to Apple’s profile, it says:
Apple’s inactivity on social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook proves that a minimalist approach is sometimes the best option if you want to stand out from all the noise.
Brand voice is the personality a brand acquires in its communications and is used to present the brand to the world in a certain way. It has the power to make a brand come to life. The right name, logo and images are all essential for ensuring that a brand stands out. However, well-written content can ensure it stays in the spotlight for longer and remains at the forefront of people’s minds. This is important for building a loyal customer base.
It is crucial that you put enough time and effort into creating a unique brand voice. You can do this by:
- Aligning it with your mission statement and core values
- Using language that resonates with your target audience
- Creating a buyer persona
- Analysing your current brand voice to see what works
- Differentiating between brand voice and tone
- Creating a style guide for your writers to refer to
- Using your voice consistently across all marketing communications
- Regularly reviewing your voice and making any necessary changes
- Taking inspiration from other brands