How to Develop a True Brand Voice and Sound Authentic – New update 2024
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Does your company have a strong brand voice that your audience can instantly recognize?
For instance, if you removed your logo, company name, and other branded images from one of your blog posts – would a customer be able to tell it’s from you?
If not, you lack a recognizable brand identity, and your content likely doesn’t have a unique voice.
Why does a brand’s tone of voice matter?
It does because customers prefer brands that have strong personalities and a unique brand voice. When surveyed, 46% of customers said they’d pay more for a brand they recognize and trust.
A consistent voice is also essential, as brand consistency has been shown to increase revenue by 33%.
Last but not least, your brand personality is how you make a great first impression with new prospects. It only takes 50 milliseconds for someone to form an opinion of your website, so you want to make sure that you have a stellar brand experience.
Ideally, your target audience should be able to identify your brand by the tone of voice alone instantly. A great brand voice will help build customer loyalty as well as attract new customers, which is why having one is so crucial for any company.
With a distinct brand voice, your customers will feel as if they’re speaking with an old friend, someone they know and trust.
Do you not know how to form your own brand voice?
Then you’ve come to the right place. Read on to learn more about what brand voice is, as well as how you can create one of your own.
What’s Brand Voice All About?
If your favorite comedian comes on TV, but you’re in the other room, would you still know that it’s them?
The chances are you’d instantly recognize their tone of voice, inflections, storytelling style, and witty sense of humor. A comedian like Norm MacDonald is a great example, as his distinct personality and way of speaking are apparent with only a few words spoken.
Well, his cadence is a perfect example of a recognizable brand voice.
The good news?
You can implement a brand voice that’s just as recognizable at your company – although instead of telling jokes on TV, your voice will come through in all your business communications, including:
Even if different teams are responsible for each channel, your brand voice needs to stay consistent. That means everyone at your company should have an intimate understanding of your brand’s unique personality. That way, your brand messaging will stay consistent no matter who writes it.
Why does brand voice matter?
Brand voice matters because it helps you stand out from the countless other companies out there that provide the same products and services.
Without a unique identity, you’ll blend into all the other options users can find online.
A quirky, witty, or empowering brand voice will intrigue customers and entice them to learn more, which is precisely what you want.
The type of voice you choose will depend on your target audience‘s personality traits. If they’re a young, fun-loving crowd, a humorous tone with plenty of puns and jokes is a great choice. If your audience is more motivated and serious, an empowering tone will vibe better than being funny.
Besides relating to your audience, a unique brand voice helps customers remember your company.
Let’s say that a potential customer sees a few of your ads on Twitter, and the messaging sticks in their head. They don’t need to make a purchase right now, but whenever they do, your brand is the first one that comes to their mind – all thanks to your memorable brand voice.
Another reason brand voice is so important is that it helps you speak the language of your target audience, which will help you connect with them on an emotional level.
If your audience feels like you understand them, they’re far more likely to stick with your brand. In fact, 59% of shoppers only want to buy from brands they trust – which is why you must understand their needs and speak their language.
Brand Voice and Brand Tone: What’s the Difference?
Many marketers use the terms brand voice and brand tone interchangeably, but there is a difference between the two.
Picture the personality of your best friend. It’s who they are inside and represents how they act in general. Their tone, however, is something that changes depending on the situation, making it contextual.
For instance, they wouldn’t speak the same way at a party as they would at a funeral. While their tone changes based on the circumstances, their personality remains the same.
Brand voice and brand tone operate in the same manner.
Your brand voice is synonymous with brand personality. It’s how your brand communicates across all channels, and it remains consistent.
Your brand tone refers to the emotional side of your brand voice, and it can change based on the situation.
For example, say that you use a quirky and fun tone for most of your posts. However, maintaining that tone in a post mourning the death of an important industry figure isn’t a smart move. Instead, you’d need to adopt a more serious, empathetic tone – which is more appropriate for the circumstances.
Why is brand tone important?
By appropriately adapting your brand tone to the situation, it will show your audience that you understand how they’re feeling, which shows emotional intelligence and builds brand loyalty.
It should be your brand’s mission to connect with your audience emotionally, so paying attention to your brand tone is necessary. Otherwise, your audience may feel that you’re insensitive or out of touch.
Also, while it may seem wise to steer clear of taking a stance on pressing social issues, that may not always be the best course of action.
According to a survey, two-thirds (64%) of consumers said they’d either buy from or boycott a brand due to its position on a social or political issue.
In today’s age, consumers prefer companies to be open about their beliefs. At the same time, it’s not hard for them to see through brands that are faking interest in social issues. That’s why it’s crucial to be completely transparent with your audience.
Taking a stance is undoubtedly risky, but it’s better to stick to your core values and be honest than it is to stay silent. After all, the customers you acquire due to your stance can even out the ones that you may lose.
Successful Brand Voice Examples
Now that you know why creating a brand voice is a must, let’s look at some of the most successful examples of strong brand voices that audiences love.
That can help get your creative juices flowing with ideas for your own brand voice.
To give you the most variety, we’ll look at brand voices that are funny, inspiring, helpful, and expressive.
Humorous brand voice: Fridababy
First, let’s take a look at a brand voice that’s undoubtedly hilarious but also a bit on the edgy side.
Fridababy is an e-commerce store that sells a wide variety of products for babies and expecting mothers.
There are countless baby brands out there selling the same products, so Fridababy had to figure out a way to stand out from the crowd with its brand voice.
Embrace the dark side of parenting that baby companies seldom discuss.
Instead of opting for the traditional cutesy tone (that’s been done ad nauseam), Fridababy turns the industry on its head with a notoriously dark sense of humor.
They describe themselves as the ‘who-do-I-call-in-the-middle-of-the-night-because-my-baby-won’t-stop-screaming brand.’
Staple products include the ‘buttwasher‘ and ‘gasspasser,’ and they promise to deliver the ‘411 on parenting.’
The brand is proof that going against the grain can work and that you don’t always have to be overly professional with your tone.
A big reason why Fridababy’s brand voice works so well is that it’s completely transparent and real. Parenting is something that can be extremely frustrating, even if it’s a bit taboo to complain about it.
If Fridababy decided to tell insensitive jokes that weren’t relatable, their audience wouldn’t respond – even if the comedy writing is exceptional.
The lesson to learn here is to be fearless with your brand voice while always remembering to relate to your audience without insulting them. The best way to do that is to create a customer persona and write jokes you know they would appreciate (more on this in a bit).
Inspiring brand voice: Nike
Next, let’s take a look at a brand voice that motivates and inspires its customers. In this area, no company does it better than Nike.
Since their target audience consists of athletes and sports enthusiasts, their brand voice is all about reaching your goals with a certain grit and determination.
Their infamous three-word slogan perfectly sums up this attitude – just do it.
Do you want to get better at basketball? Just do it. Want to pursue a new career path? Just do it.
That one simple phrase is versatile enough to relate to achieving ANY goal, not just athletic ones. That’s why Nike‘s inspiring brand voice reaches beyond its target audience and has universal appeal.
Nike is also remarkably consistent with its messaging and company mission. From their ads to their website and even company emails, their inspiring voice permeates throughout them all.
Here’s their company’s mission statement, according to the Nike website:
“Bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world. If you have a body, you’re an athlete.”
As you can see, even their mission statement aims to motivate you to become more active.
Their branding is a big reason why Nike was able to endure as a brand over the years, surviving numerous cash flow problems and supply chain crises.
Helpful brand voice: Slack
The instant chat application Slack is all about productivity and collaboration. As such, its brand voice revolves around being helpful to its user base.
If Slack was a person, they’d be a friendly and intelligent customer support agent.
This type of brand voice works best if your products and services are helpful in nature.
Slack is constantly releasing content such as user guides, FAQ pages, helpful resources, and insightful blogs.
In doing so, they convey that they’re committed to helping their users become as productive as possible while using their platform.
Just as the app Slack enhances your communications and productivity, so too does its brand voice.
Are you noticing a theme so far?
Each brand voice we’ve covered has catered its tone to reflect the type of services they provide and the language/habits of its target audience.
In other words, the voice they settled on was very deliberate and the result of a lot of customer research. These brands didn’t simply take a shot in the dark when building their brand voice, such as going for a humorous tone for no reason.
Expressive brand voice: Starbucks
Last but not least, Starbucks has a masterful brand voice that’s perfect for its audience.
Not only that, but they have their brand voice guidelines available to the public, which you should definitely check out. Doing so will help give you ideas for the types of guidelines you want for your brand voice.
Creating a style guide will help your brand remain consistent with its messaging at all times.
Starbucks understands this, which is why its guidelines are so extensive. For them, it’s crucial to maintain a highly expressive tone in order to tell engaging, passionate coffee stories.
They also have a functional tone that they use for ordering and way-finding to keep things simple for customers wanting to get their coffee without becoming confused.
Combining the two enables them to tell poetic tales about new drinks in their advertisements while keeping things simple for the drive-thru and order counter.
Creating a Stand-Out Brand Voice for Your Organization
If you need a brand voice, developing one is always possible, even if you’ve been in business for 20 years. From startups to established small businesses, any organization can develop a brand voice if they follow the right steps.
Having a template to use certainly makes it more accessible, so here’s a step-by-step guide to developing a unique brand voice.
Step #1: Begin with your core values/mission statement
To start, consider your company’s core values and mission statement, as they’ll help you define some essential components of your brand voice.
As stated before, consumers want brands to take a stand on important social and political issues, but only if they’re transparent.
Familiarizing yourself with your organization’s core values will help you stay consistent in this regard. Not only that, but your mission statement can provide clues for the tone of voice you should use and your brand personality.
For instance, if your mission statement is all about helping people through your products and services, your brand voice should take on a helpful, inspirational tone.
If you ignore your core values when developing your brand voice, you may come off as tone-deaf to your audience, so always make sure to start with this step.
Step #2: Use your customer persona as a guide
Your audience will influence your brand voice more than your mission statement, so you should develop a customer persona if you haven’t already.
A customer persona differs from your audience in that it’s an actual individual that you create based on the characteristics of your target demographics.
For instance, you could develop a customer persona named Jogger Steve if you sell fitness products. You would then fill in Steve’s details by researching your customer base, including his:
- Job title
- Level of education
- Likes, wants, and desires
- Life goals
Once that’s done, you’ll have a solid idea of what one of your audience members is like on a personal level. From there, you can determine which type of brand voice they’ll respond to the most.
In the case of Jogger Steve, he’s practical and goal-driven but also appreciates a bit of tasteful humor here and there. As such, a motivational yet casual tone is what resonates with him.
Step #3: Sum up your brand voice in three words
Now that you’ve got a direction for your brand tone, it’s time to break out the whiteboard and refine it.
In particular, try to summarize your brand voice in just three words.
Pretend that you’re describing your brand as an actual person to your friend. What’s their personality like?
Keeping with the Jogger Steve persona, here are three words that sum up the tone we uncovered:
Now we have a clearer idea of our brand voice. From here, define each word a bit further:
- Inspiring: motivational, goal-driven, aspirational, practical
- Witty: Casual, quirky, engaging, silly
- Informative: educational, direct, trustworthy
You can use these words to guide your content to maintain consistency.
Step #4: Create an in-house style guide
Speaking of consistency, you can and should create a style guide for all your content creators, both in-house and freelancers.
That way, your voice and messaging will remain consistent across all channels, whether you’re writing a company email or a freelancer is knocking out one of your blogs.
Spare no detail when creating a style guide, including a detailed do’s and don’ts list. For instance, here’s what part of a style guide might look for the company with the Jogger Steve persona:
- Do provide detailed guides and tutorials with respected sources.
- Don’t make extraordinary claims that you can’t back up.
- Do throw in the occasional tasteful joke.
- Don’t include humor that’s vulgar or offensive.
Setting these guidelines will ensure that your content will have the same brand voice and personality.
Final Takeaways: Developing a Brand Voice
Creating a unique and instantly recognizable brand voice is one of the best things you can do for your business.
Customers respond to brands that speak their language, and stand-out brand voices help you cut through the noise of all your competitors.
By following this guide, you’ll be able to develop a brand identity that will relate to your audience on an emotional level.
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