What Brand Voice Means and How To Find Yours
Great branding is critical to business success – and we’re not just talking about what your brand looks like, but also how your brand sounds. That means thinking about the brand voice that goes along with your brand identity. Your customers might recognize your brand visually, especially with your logo. but if those visuals were stripped back and all they had were words, would they recognize your brand then?
What is Brand Voice?
Brand voice is exactly as it sounds – it’s the vocabulary, language, words, values, and emotions of your brand, and it’s a large part of your brand personality. Think of your brand like a human being; you wouldn’t talk to people or act like multiple different people in front of them – and you have unique characteristics. The same goes for your brand when you’re communicating with your audience.
Brand voice can help to ensure that your message gets through to your customers and creates an impression, and it should do so consistently at every brand touchpoint.
Why a Strong Brand Voice is Important
Did you know: Brands presented consistently are 3.5 times more likely to enjoy excellent brand visibility than those with inconsistent branding.
It’s important that your voice is repeatedly consistent at all your brand touchpoints. Wherever your customer interacts with your brand, they should instantly know the content they’re consuming came from you – that means you have a unique brand identity, a unique voice, and you’re set apart from your competitors.
What you don’t want to happen is inconsistency or changing your brand voice frequently – and unfortunately that’s an easy place to get to when many brands work across multiple channels and have different people responsible for creating different content. This makes it more difficult for your audience to understand your brand, and in turn you may lose out to your competition. That’s why it’s important to have a strong grasp on how your brand voice is used across all your touchpoints. This will help you become easily identifiable, authoritative, and an expert in your industry.
How to Find Your Brand Voice
Follow these six steps to find and develop your brand voice:
Step 1: Go back to your mission statement
Your brand voice and personality should portray your company’s values, which you’ll find in your mission statement (or something similar). As this is one of the core basics of your brand, everything you do and say should come back to your mission statement so this is a good starting point when you’re developing your brand voice.
Step 2: Audit your existing content
Gather together a good cross-section of your existing marketing content – everything from website landing pages, videos, and social media posts to brochures, blog posts, and customer letters. Review it critically and think about:
- How consistent they are with each other
- Whether they truly reflect your brand personality – or whether they could just have easily come from a competitor
- If they sound like your brand as it is today – or whether they are outdated
- Which pieces of content perform best – this is the content your audience responds to
Your aim is to find a selection of content that really reflects your brand personality, values, and purpose, and does so consistently. Use this content to inform the work you do on getting everything else to the same level.
Step 3: Research your customers
There are two things you can do here. First, it’s important to understand your target audience. If you have them, look back through your buyer personas or create buyer personas if you don’t already have them. This will significantly help align your sales and marketing teams on who they are marketing and selling to.
Second, you could contact your existing customers and ask them questions about your brand. You could do this with a simple online survey or on the phone. Ask them:
- How would you describe our brand?
- If our company were a person, who would it be and why?
- Does our brand sound like you expect it to?
What you’re looking for are commonalities across your audience. Do they use similar words or sentiments to express what they think about your brand? It’s important to think about how your audience talks about your brand and use the words that they use, as these are the ones they’ll recognize and identify with.
Step 4: Describe your brand voice in three words
Don’t undertake this exercise alone! Ask different teams within your company to contribute to this. Brainstorm all the words you’d use to identify your brand voice and again look at the commonalities – and also the words which convey the values you want your brand to convey.
Whittle all your words down to the three most important or significant ones. Then, take these words a step further by thinking about what they mean for creating your brand voice and how they will be used when you create or update content. For example, let’s say the three words that represent your brand are friendly, compassionate, and honest. You might expand this out as follows:
- Friendly – helpful, sincere, engaging
- Compassionate – heartfelt, expressive, understanding
- Honest – trustworthy, authentic, genuine
There’s also a great exercise called “We’re this, not that” that can help you identify what your brand isn’t. This helps formalize what it is.
Step 5. Create a brand voice template
At this point, you should know what your brand’s voice is. But how do you manage that and also ensure that everyone, from your marketing and customer service teams to any freelancers and agencies you use, can consistently convey your brand’s personality?
Enter the brand voice template. Use this simple template to show each of your brand’s characteristics, and how you both use and don’t use them. It’s a simple but effective way of ensuring that anyone producing content for your brand or even talking to your customers uses the same brand voice. Make sure everyone has a copy of the template and understands how to use it. You should also include this in your brand guide. This will help to create a consistent, clear brand voice.
Step 6: Review your brand voice template
Your brand voice will likely evolve over time, perhaps due to internal branding changes, diversifying your product ranges, changes in your industry, new competitors or even advances in technology. It’s important to revisit your brand voice template from time to time and update it when necessary.
Check out our branding resource for more content on all aspects of branding, or call us if you’d like to chat through how LimeLight Marketing can help your brand.