What is Brand Voice and How to Develop One?

What is Brand Voice and How to Develop One?

14min read  

6 Jul 2020

Did you know that consistent brand presentation increases revenue by around 23%? It also boosts customer loyalty as people best connect with brands that have a distinct and recognizable personality.

But what makes a brand consistent? Well, there are several factors, but brand voice is topping that list with its importance. “Wait, what is brand voice?” you might ask. 

Brand voice is the unique personality that a brand projects through its written content and different communication channels. It’s how you can tell, while scrolling through Instagram, whether a specific caption is by Chanel or Victoria’s Secret. Even if you didn’t look at the usernames, something about the tone and word choice would make it apparent.

fashion brand voice on social media

If you're reading this, you're probably interested in developing your own brand voice. And we're here to help you do exactly that! In this article, we’ll guide you through the step-by-step process of cultivating a consistent voice that's perfectly aligned with your brand identity.

Enjoy your read and let your brand’s personality shine through every piece of content! 

 

  1. Describe Your Brand

 

First things first, brand voice should spring from brand identity. Just as you make assumptions about someone’s personality based on how they talk and the words they use, you form an impression about a brand based on the voice of its content.

brand personality spectrumImage: GatherContent.com
 

In that sense, brands are quite similar to movie characters. For characters to be truthful and believable their lines should reflect their personalities. This can manifest in a number of ways: their vocabulary, the jargon they use, the usual tone of their voice, how they comment on different situations, and so on. All this should help the audience form an opinion about a character.

In the same way, a consistent voice gives your brand a recognizable personality. Once you’ve developed that voice, a mere glance at your caption or ad copy will be enough for customers to tell it’s you.

Thus, before you even try to shape your brand voice, first take the time to understand its personality. Try to define it as concisely as possible. Think about three or four words that would best describe your brand and write them down. 

brand personality wordsSource: FINIEN.com
 

Once you’ve done that, search for other brands with a similar character. Study their content, the words and phrases they use or don’t use, how they address their audience, and so on. This will give you an idea of what the brand voice you want to develop sounds like in action.

 

  1. Identify Your Current Voice

 

Even if you’ve never thought about it, you already have a certain brand voice. It might not be consistent or what you intend, but it’s there. The key now is to define that voice as objectively as possible. Only after taking this step will you understand what needs to change in order for you to achieve the brand voice you want.

It’s also possible that you have a different voice on each platform. Especially if several people are responsible for the content on your blog, website, social media, email newsletter, and YouTube channel.

Of course, every platform has its own requirements, and you can’t have the same exact tone in a blog article and a social media post. But here’s where the difference between tone and brand voice comes in.

brand voice versus brand toneImage: CoSchedule.com
 

Knowing this, you can now define your brand voice on each platform, while also accounting for the natural difference in tone. Don’t despair if it’s nothing like the voice you want. We will soon discover how you can make a smooth transition to one that’s perfect for your brand.

 

  1. Ask Your Audience

 

Often, it’s hard to get a clear view of your own brand. You’re too closely involved with it, which prevents you from seeing it from a broader perspective. In such cases, it’s useful to get feedback from customers.

After all, customers are the very people your brand identity is shaped for. You may invest all your resources into developing a specific brand personality. But if your target audience perceives the brand differently, then it all amounts to nothing.

customer feedback funny Image: Blameitonthevoices.com
 

Thus, a short survey about customer perceptions will do no harm when it comes to establishing a brand voice. Make sure you write both the survey and the email (in which you ask customers to take it) in your usual voice rather than the one you’re trying to achieve. This will result in more accurate responses.

 

  1. Develop a Brand Voice Chart

 

Now that you know where you currently stand and where you want to go, it’s time to focus on the specifics. The first thing you need to do is build a brand voice chart. It’s a table that lists the voice characteristics you want to incorporate and explains what each one means. 

Typically, a brand voice chart is divided into four columns. The first one mentions the voice characteristic, the second provides a description for it, while the third and fourth columns present specific “do’s” and “don’ts” for each.

brand voice chartImage: frooition.com
 

You can customize this structure to your own preferences, add additional columns with examples, and so on. Your brand voice chart will then act as a reference for every piece of content written by your team. Soon, that way of writing will become second nature, and that’s when your brand voice will start to solidify.

 

  1. Make It Specific

 

Without examples, your content team might have a hard time understanding what is expected of them. Therefore, it’s best to compile a collection of samples in the brand voice you want to develop. 

For that, you can turn to other brands with a similar voice and search your own blog content for exemplary pieces of writing. Make sure to add some clarifying notes to each, detailing what exactly you like in a given sample.

content type brand voice examplesImage: Klaviyo.com
 

Try to find samples for each platform and writing format: article excerpts for the blog, examples of landing page content for the website, promotional copies for social media, and so on. This will ensure that all the team members are on the same page.

 

  1. Create a Content Style Guide

 

Do you have a content style guide? If no, it’s time to create one. Content consistency is more than just the brand voice. It includes the kind of topics you address, the formatting of your articles, the types of media you put out there, and so much more. To make all of this consistent, you need a guide to refer to. 

A content style guide is typically around 4-5 pages long. There’s no rigid rule as to its structure, but it usually covers the following:

content style guide structureImage: Prototypr.io
 

 

  1. Bring Everyone on Board

 

The importance of this step cannot be emphasized enough. Even if you’ve put together the most perfect guidelines for content and brand voice, they won’t have any effect if they stay on paper. 

Thus, it’s necessary to communicate the guidelines you’ve developed to all the relevant team members. Perhaps, a team meeting is the best way to do this. Prepare a slideshow or video presentation and invite all the content creators for a group meeting and discussion. 

Provide lots of examples in your presentation. It’s important that each team member gets an idea of how to apply those guidelines in their own writing. And of course, be open to all questions and suggestions.

 

  1. Provide Guidance and Feedback

 

Once all the team members are on the same page, it’s time to start practicing the new brand voice. At this stage, guidance and feedback are key. Offer your assistance to every team member who needs it, so that there are no gaps or misunderstandings. 

Providing lots of feedback in this initial stage will also ensure a smooth transition.

feedback tipsImage: Allianz Careers Blog
 

Go through the written content with each writer and point out the sections where they have done a good job of incorporating the intended brand voice. Also explain, with concrete examples, what could be done better. 

Keep in mind that for successful adoption of a brand voice it’s necessary for everyone in the company (not just the content team) to understand the brand's personality and how to convey it through their own work.

 

Conclusion

Developing a brand voice is a gradual process that needs time and practice. It’s no easy task, but definitely, one that’s worth it. The steps covered in this article will help you make this process as smooth as possible.

If you need more help building a strong brand, check out our online branding tools. Create a new logo for your brand if you don’t yet have one, make intro videos with your logo, get access to high-quality mockups, or even build a responsive website

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