A brand voice introduces a human element to your outreach and helps customers see you as actual people and not a faceless brand. This may seem sort of abstract, but a brand voice is a real thing that functions alongside your overall branding and is part of a complete content marketing strategy. Establishing your brand voice is easier than it seems. Want to learn more? Let’s get into it.
What is a Brand Voice
A brand voice is a tone used in all communication. The same way you may have a logo and use specific colors to visually represent your brand, your brand voice is basically the same thing but specific to communication.
A brand voice gives your posts and outreach personality and helps readers (aka consumers) connect with your message. Utilizing a brand voice helps elevate your brand and makes you stand apart from your competition.
Establishing your brand voice is another piece of the content marketing puzzle. When used in tandem with a conversational tone, you can much more easily connect with readers.
Here are some tips to help establish and define your brand voice.
1. Figure Out Your Narrative
A decision you need to make early on is figuring out your perspective or point of view. Are you a one-person operation and will you refer to yourself using the personal pronouns ‘I’ and ‘me’? Or do you have a team, or wish to create the illusion of a team, by referring to yourself as ‘we’ or ‘us’? Either option is fine, but making a decision and sticking to it creates consistency.
Switching between the pronouns ‘I’ and ‘we’ without context can create confusion. Readers may find themselves wondering who exactly is ‘we’ instead of focusing on the content of your blog or social media posts. This type of inconsistency is minor, but you should avoid anything that distracts from your message. All of your content marketing should provide value and answer questions, not create questions.
Decide if you will speak directly to users or use more general terms. For example, I named this post, ‘Why You Need a Brand Voice.’ I am talking directly to you. I could have avoided the pronoun ‘you’ altogether and titled this post something like, ‘The Value of Creating a Brand Voice.’ I opted to speak directly to you to try to make this more personal and get your attention. That’s part of my brand voice.
2. Identify the Right Tone
Think about the characteristics of your brand. When you think about your brand, you likely think about words like quality and trusted. This is great but go deeper. Is your brand serious or funny? If your brand is funny, is it clever funny or sarcastic funny? Is your brand over-the-top or subdued?
It may help to think of your brand as a person. Or to think of your ideal customer to help you identify more details and personality traits of your brand. Your brand needs to appeal to the right audience. Modeling your brand voice after this demographic will help make your brand more appealing and aligned with your audience’s core values.
You don’t need to necessarily tell your business’ origin story (unless it’s really good). But realizing where you came from and how this all got started may help you figure out more about your brand and identify the right tone. Are you an inventive problem-solver who designed a genius product that you now sell to help others? Are you a dedicated environmentalist looking to provide a top-notch product or service while minimizing the environmental impact as much as possible?
Your brand voice will grow and evolve over time, but your origins are an important part of your brand and can help you zero in on your brand voice.
3. Set Your Level of Formality
Figure out how formal you want to speak to users. Will you use full and proper English? What about contractions (i.e. I’ll, you’re, isn’t, etc.)? What’s your stance on slang? This decision comes down to what you think will appeal most to your customers. Also, how are you comfortable communicating? Think about how you would talk to your customers in person to get a handle on the right level of formality. The nature of your business determines the appropriate level of formality.
More Thoughts on Slang
Slang is typically fleeting, so keep that in mind when it comes to creating evergreen content. Including slang in a long-term content marketing capacity can make content appear dated. The info can be great, informative content, but users may end up zeroing in on your antiquated language. This can have a negative impact on your credibility. Readers may be left wondering how current and cutting-edge are you if you’re still using outdated slang terms.
Time and Place
Social media is a good place for slang. These posts have a relatively short shelf life, so you can use terms that will generate interest and engagement right now. Just remember to update your pinned tweets or posts on a routine schedule if they contain slang.
The best way to work things out and establish your brand voice is to practice. Write the same message several times using different brand voices. This exercise can help you understand the mechanics of writing in different voices. The more you practice the easier it will become to write in your brand voice.
Let’s Figure It Out Together
Establishing a voice is part of a cohesive branding strategy and will help people connect with your brand. If the entire process of writing exercises seems overwhelming or something you just don’t have time to do, let me know. I can help you work out your voice and then create a content marketing strategy to implement your brand voice.