Sometimes marketing can feel like shouting into the wind. Is your voice even being heard?
Companies work hard to build a unified visual brand. They strive to fully understand who their buyer is and to share information with their audience. They communicate the pains and challenges prospects face, and how they can solve them. Solution providers sweat the details when explaining benefits and features. And sales teams exert considerable efforts toward finding a prospect who needs their solution at just the right time.
Tons of factors impact whether or not a marketing message gets through. Assuming you do all of them right, don't risk ruining your chances of making the sale by saying the right thing in the wrong way.
That is the power of brand voice.
Brands are both seen and heard
Every company should give as much consideration to their brand voice as they do their visual brand. What does the company message sound like?
Let's dig into what and why you need a brand voice, and how you can define and implement it consistently across all messaging types and channels.
That brand has a burly voice
Brand voice is directly related to brand personality. Think of a company, then imagine its personality. Playful. Serious. Helpful. Innovative. If the outward appearance and the mission of a company is "helpful" but the words used are unresponsive, detached, and indifferent the messaging will come off as hollow and insincere. You will lose your customer.
Likewise, the best way to define your brand voice, is to fully understand your brand personality. Start with your product or service offering. What does it provide to the customer? What feelings are you delivering? How do you want them to feel about your product or service? What is your mission in serving them?
There are three common techniques for defining brand personality
Now imagine someone who is a personification of that personality and how they speak. What words do they use? Don't confuse this with industry jargon, acronyms or buzzwords. While you need to know those terms to reach your audience, it's best to use plain English for prospect messaging, so you don't alienate anyone who doesn't know what they mean.
Do consider the type of personas you are speaking to but never talk down to your audience. Connect with them head-on, like a meeting-of-the-minds.
Voice vs. tone
Once you have some descriptive words for your brand voice, you need to understand tone. Tone comes into play based on when you are talking to your audience. While voice expresses the personality of your brand, tone expresses the emotional inflection appropriate to the specific situation or message type. What is the communication channel? Are you writing for the website to a general visitor? Or is this an email communication to an existing customer? Is this a sales pitch within a slide deck? Or a booth banner at a tradeshow?
Places where your brand voice will be most noticeable and impactful include: calls to action, customer onboarding communications, Instagram messaging, customer service emails, and social media bios.
All of these channels will have a variation of your brand voice known as tone. It might be more sales-focused. More persuasive. More instructive and advisory. A good copywriter knows how to adjust the tone of a message for each specific channel.
Learn from the best
The quintessential example of mastering brand voice is Mail Chimp. They devised a unique and quirky brand and followed through with carefully crafted copy at every customer touchpoint. If you've ever used Mail Chimp you know that using the product just made you smile. If you're unfamiliar, check out their well-defined brand voice style guide here.
Want to see more? Check these out these sample guidelines:
Document, monitor and modify
OK. You've done the hard part. You've defined your brand personality and voice. You've isolated your various communication channels and filtered your tone for each, accordingly. Then, you documented it all and built some guidelines to help you stay on track.
Now it's time to write. And market. And message. And educate. And write some more.
Take the time to monitor how you're doing. Listen to your audience and make sure you're staying in tune with trends and the competition. Then learn and modify and write some more.
Rinse and repeat as they say. By following these tips, you're sure to be a sounding voice above the noisy marketplace. With a well-defined brand voice, you can be distinct call, with a message all your own.
Need some help finding your voice? Sometimes our own messaging is too close to our heart and it's hard to be discerning. I can help. From a single project to a full brand audit, we can find your authentic voice, together. Download the brochure. Or reach out.
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Hi. I'm Barbara Bogue. The name [double b] came from my initials. Here I share tips and advice on marketing, design and copywriting.
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