When I say branding, what do you think? If you’re like most people, you think of visual elements like your logo and brand colors. Check and check.
Your marketing materials may look tight. And yet your brand still isn’t cohesive and consistent. What did you miss?
The answer may surprise you. Even though your brand looks good, if it doesn’t sound good, then it won’t feel cohesive.
And this is why having a strong brand voice is critical.
What is a brand voice?
Every brand has a voice. It’s the expression of its (or your!) personality through the words you choose, and how and why you say them. Establishing voice guidelines helps you communicate effectively, cohesively, and consistently.
It’s possible that you already have guidelines for your visual identity, but it’s also essential for you to add voice and tone guidelines, and writing style guidelines to your Brand Bible.
Why does it matter?
Your brand is all about conversations. And it’s important to think about the conversation you want to have with your audience.
What you say (voice) and how you say it (tone) are effective when they’re human, authentic, and consistent. Think about it like this. How weird would it be for a brand to be buttoned up and robotic on one platform and conversational and quirky on another? Or what if that brand spoke the same way in times of celebration as it did in times of grief?
Voice and tone matter a great deal because they are used everywhere—from your website to your print materials to your social media accounts.
How to find your brand’s voice
Who is your ideal client? Orient your voice to them so you can build an emotional connection. For example, if you’re targeting families who want quiet homes in the suburbs, you won’t speak to them the same way as single millennials who want a condo in the central city.
Write for the audience you want to attract. Some things to think about:
- How do you want them to feel?
- What benefit do you provide them?
- How do you stand out?
- How do you want your brand to be perceived?
Define your personality
What three words breathe life into the personality of your brand? Here are some examples:
Now, think about your voice by comparing what it is to what it isn’t.
Mailchimp’s tone and voice guide offers a great example: “Fun but not silly, confident but not cocky, smart but not stodgy, informal but not sloppy, helpful but not overbearing, expert but not bossy, and weird but not inappropriate.”
Implement your brand voice everywhere
After you’ve written out your guidelines, it’s time to revisit your website, print materials, etc. and make sure they reflect your brand voice.
Share these guidelines with your team so everyone’s communication will be on-brand, all the time.
Have you documented your brand's voice guidelines? What are your three words? Sound off in the comments below.