by Holly Ashby
In the clamour of the Internet, it’s easy for brands to get lost. Whether it’s through your website copy, content marketing or social media, it’s likely that the written word will be the first experience a potential customer is going to have of your brand. This is why having a strong brand voice is hugely important if you want to get noticed.
Successfully branding your business is, of course, the first step. If you haven’t got a clear idea of who are you are as a business then it will be impossible to choose something as fundamental as a logo, let alone come up with a particular lexicon. However, even with a strong brand it’s easy to get the voice wrong, especially if your venture is a group effort.
A random assortment of voices and tones will undermine any efforts you’ve made to in other areas to create a coherent and compelling brand. So how do you make sure that you are communicating to your audience in a compelling way?
Humanize your Brand
Branding is a simple concept that can unfortunately become very complicated, so sometimes it helps to be a little imaginative. Picture your brand as a living, breathing human and ask yourself, how would they talk? Maybe they are a incredibly skilled and a professional person, who is direct but obviously trustworthy. Or maybe they are fun, exuberant and chatty, captivating people with sheer force of personality.
The way people write and communicate is hugely personal, so this is a great starting point in creating a convincing, comprehensive and effective brand voice.
Pick the three words that describe your brand voice best
Defining your brand voice with three words – such as “upbeat, talkative, playful” or “professional, distant, accomplished” – will help in two key ways:
- It simplifies the process. Personality and tone of voice aren’t always easy things to pin down, so by staking your flag in the ground and declaring, in the simplest terms possible, “this is who we are” you will stop things from becoming too vague and ambiguous.
- You will be able to explain your brand voice to other people. If you are the only one who can write about your business and be “on brand”, you will become burdened with an absolutely huge workload. Making it easy for other people to write in your brand voice is vitally important.
While choosing these words may seem easy, especially if you know your brand well, it can be hard to make the leap from three adjectives to a brand voice that is instantly recognizable as yours. Practice a little with phrases and how you can express them in different, characterful ways. For example, below are three ways to say “my business is better than anyone else’s” according to three different sets of keywords.
Youthful, irreverent, conversational
Does it sound vain to say we’re ridiculously brilliant? It probably does. We should be more humble and monk-like, or we’ll get tutted at for showing off… (but seriously though, we’re actually awesome. It just comes naturally to us).
Direct, confident, capable
With years of experience and dedication to draw from, details don’t phase us. We’re committed to creating the best outcome and have the expertise to make sure it happens. Put simply, we get the job done, and it’s done to an exceptional standard.
Warm, inclusive, informal.
We really love the work we do (we even think the challenging bits are brilliant) which means you can rest safe in the knowledge that we’re doing our absolute best for you. Our ears are always open, so feel free to drop us a line or pop in for a chat.
With some experimentation, you will find the tone which fits your business best, and can then think in a little more depth about the finer points of your brand voice.
Lock down the details
Do you want to be a slave to grammar, or will starting a sentence with “And” be completely acceptable in your brand’s conversational style? How will you respond to people on social media, will it be strictly professional or are you willing to engage in jokes and casual conversation? These are the kind of problems you will have to solve, and set down in brand guidelines for others to follow.
It’s also a chance to look into the ancillary personality points that compliment your three keywords. Making a flowchart that you can include in your brand guidelines could help here. For example, here are the subtle ways you may develop slightly different tones of voice with a more detailed view of the word “vivacious”.
Your brand voice will evolve with your business, becoming clearer and more confident the more you write and create. There’s no need to assume that your brand voice has to be fully determined and then set in stone, like everything else it will change with experimentation. However, by creating a simple guide that allows anyone creating brand copy to fully embrace the right tone and style, your branding efforts will be a coherent whole that catches people’s attention.
Holly Ashby is writer, social media manager and content creator from England. She helps brands define their content strategy and works mainly with start-ups and charities, while exploring her interest in influencer marketing as a brand ambassador for the property investment fund The Hideaways Club. She’s fascinated by how you build brands across multiple channels and the potential of social media to reinforce brand values.