Every business has a brand voice, but not all businesses have intentionally chosen theirs.
In the beginning, many new businesses start with the owner’s voice as the brand voice. However, as more employees are added, or content is outsourced to a digital marketing company, it becomes much more difficult to keep a consistent voice if there are no parameters to guide communications across customer touchpoints.
Businesses that take steps like creating a website, setting up social media profiles, running ads, and sending invoices without regard to the overall voice that they’re using typically end up with a piecemeal brand voice. Without being deliberate a brand voice will lack direction and cohesion, weakening the brand and constricting business growth.
Some business owners may feel that specifying brand voice is unnecessary, but most often the limiting factor is time and effort. Business owners are typically intimidated by the concept of creating a brand voice, causing it to get deprioritized behind time-sensitive tasks that directly generate revenue. However, the process does not need to be difficult.
Get the ball rolling by simply asking, “If our brand was a person, who would that person be? What would that person sound like, say, ask, and tell you? Where would that person live, work, visit, and spend time? What would that person do for fun?” These questions (and any others you can think of) help to personify the brand, allowing a way to match the brand voice with the business’s market positioning to maximize revenue.
Determine what your brand voice will sound like and who it will appeal to. The tone of your brand voice goes beyond what your company says in its content. Tone conveys how your brand communicates and what kind of angle it takes when approaching topics and selling to prospective customers. While tone can vary significantly between industries, businesses in the same industry will often have nuanced differences as well to set themselves apart. For instance, in the insurance industry, all companies tend to take a cautious, risk-adverse, protective tone with their content. However, some may take the tone of a wise friend or neighbor while others embody the tone of a protective parent. Both are likely to recommend additional insurance policy protection, but they do using different tones.
Style is probably the hardest part to describe and replicate, so providing examples of content that demonstrates your desired styled is often helpful when trying to convey it to in-house employees or a third-party marketing company. If you already have content that has resonated well with customers and investors, reference that for future content creation. It’s always easier to duplicate an existing style than to follow a set of directions related to word choices, flow, formality, length, and rhythm.
Make firm decisions related to the written expression of your brand voice. The mechanics that underlie how you’ll communicate on behalf of your brand in written content are as important as the tone and style of the voice itself. Formalize style guidelines around use of punctuation, grammar, and other technical aspects guide efforts to ensure continuity between written content.
Types of Content
Turn your brand voice into the basis for a content strategy. Once you determine what your brand voice will sound like and how you’ll express it in written content, you need to figure out what kind of content you’ll produce. Answer the questions: What will you write? When? For whom? Where will you publish it? How will you promote it?
Remember, brands grow up too! A company’s brand voice can change and evolve over time as marketing efforts are refined. The voice that your brand has today likely won’t be around forever, so this won’t be your only chance to work on it. Aim to start off on firm branding footing and be open to tweaking your brand voice later as needed.
Kate Pierce is the owner of LionShark Digital Marketing LLC, a West Michigan internet marketing company. Her areas of expertise include Paid Search, Search Engine Optimization, Business Blogging and Web Copywriting. She lives in the Grand Rapids area with her husband and two children and enjoys cooking, watching sports, and spending time together as a family. Like a true digital marketing expert (i.e. geek), she loves talking about current marketing trends… so don’t say you weren’t warned!