Brand voice

boy singing on microphone with pop filter

Brand voice is about how your brand sounds and comes across in words. It’s like giving your brand its unique personality that stands out from the crowd. This cool, one-of-a-kind voice is a killer way to grab attention and not just blend into the background.

It’s about making your brand feel more like a buddy and less like a robot. Whenever you throw words out there—on your website, over social media, in ads, or in any message you share—you want folks to know it’s unmistakably you, just like picking up on a friend’s voice in a crowded room.

The goal? For your customers to get who you are from just a sentence or two, almost like hearing from an old pal on the phone. Let’s break it down: Brand voice and brand tone are like cousins, not twins.

Your brand voice? That’s your brand’s personality in words, and it sticks around no matter where or how your audience bumps into your brand. It’s the vibe you give off consistently.

The brand tone is about the feelings in specific messages. It changes based on what you’re talking about or where you’re talking. 

Imagine you’re hyping up a spontaneous sale on social media – that tone will be all about excitement and fun. But switch gears to talking about your company culture on your website, and you’re probably aiming for a more sincere and proud tone.

So, your brand tone flexes with the situation, aiming to spark specific emotions based on what’s going on. On the flip side, your brand voice is your steady, reliable vibe that doesn’t flip-flop from the day you launch till the end of time (or at least until you decide it’s makeover time).

people walking on street during daytime

So, we’ve dug into what brand voice is and how it’s different from brand tone. Now, let’s dive into why nailing your brand voice is crucial for your business to shine.

There are several significant reasons why your brand voice is a game-changer. First off, it’s all about standing out. With everyone from your next-door neighbor to big-name brands shouting for attention online, on TV, and everywhere else, having a unique, true-to-you brand voice can make people stop scrolling and listen.

Those brands that are bold, different, and genuine catch our attention. They’re the ones that make us laugh, think, or nod along because they get it. They tell stories that stick with us, crafting a brand narrative that’s more than just noise.

When customers can pick your brand out of a lineup because of its standout voice, you know you’ve got it right. And when it’s time for them to open their wallets, guess whose name will pop into their heads? Yup, yours.

The second big reason why your brand voice is a total must-have? It’s all about making that real, deep connection with your customers, laying down the tracks for trust, and, fingers crossed, turning them into loyal fans. Almost half the folks will throw more cash at a brand they trust.

This is for more than just the B2C crowd. B2B brands, you’re in this boat, too. Selling to businesses doesn’t mean you’re not talking to real people. If you’re a B2B brand looking to make meaningful connections, sounding like an actual human being is critical to winning over those prominent decision-makers.

four women sitting on black steel bench during daytime

First step of kicking off your brand voice, who are we talking to?

Here’s the deal: trying to be everyone’s cup of tea differs from how you brew a standout brand. Aim to please everybody, and you’ll end up pleasing nobody with a brand as exciting as watching paint dry.

To nail your message, you must zoom in on your specific crowd. Get to know them inside and out. And the golden ticket to unlocking what they’re all about? Good old-fashioned customer interviews.

Grab some time with your top customers. Dive into what gets them up in the morning, what puzzles they’re trying to solve with your help, and what big wins they dream of achieving.

Take all the cool stuff you learn from chatting with your customers and create an audience persona. Think of it as sketching your ideal customer. It’s like giving a face and a story to the folks you’re talking to, making everything more personal.

Some great things to discover beyond their age are the region they live in, how they spend their time, what they do to pay the bills, what motivates them in life, what challenges them in life, and some understanding of their upbringing.

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Next step, what is the competition up to?

1. Pick out your main rivals in the game, ideally at least five. 

2. Scoop up a bunch of their chatter from places like their websites, promo stuff, and how they sound on social media.

3. Make a neat list of their wordy weapons—like brand names, catchy lines, the first thing you read on their site, and all the ways they stand out or blend in.

4. Put on your detective hat and figure out what they’re acing and where they’re dropping the ball. Keep an eye out for any cool trends popping up in your industry.

5. Lastly, take all that juicy info on trends and where they’re not quite hitting the mark, and brainstorm how your brand can dance to its own beat in the market.

Getting a grasp on the different vibes your rivals are throwing out there helps you figure out what fits and doesn’t in your industry.

It’s also a great way to spot the clichés and buzzwords you want to avoid. Plus, it’s your ticket to finding those golden chances to make your brand’s voice stand out.

Knowing your audience and competitors is vital, but remember to get to know your own brand inside and out.

The most genuine brand voices come from diving deep into your brand strategy. So, take a moment to get what your brand is all about—the core messages and principles—before you start shaping its voice. Think of your brand promise, competitive advantage, and personality.

Some of our past articles that might help with this process, Brand Architecture, Brand Compass, and Brand Pillars.

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Next, kick things off by picking out three traits that really nail what your brand voice is all about. These should vibe with your brand’s personality, but they don’t have to be the same traits that sketch out your brand’s character.

For each trait you pick, jot down a quick blurb that breaks down how this trait shows up in your brand’s world. Plus, throw in the must-dos and the big no-nos for how these traits should shape the way your brand sounds.

This leads us to brand voice guidelines. When your brand voice feels like an old friend, that’s when the magic happens. Familiarity breeds trust, and trust? That’s the golden ticket to making folks stick around for the long haul.

Remember how we chatted about keeping your brand voice consistent? The secret sauce ensures everyone on your team knows the playbook inside out. That way, no matter where or how your brand shows up, it’s always singing the same tune.

Your brand voice traits are a solid start, but if you want to paint the whole picture, you must create detailed brand voice guidelines.

We all get the hang of things by seeing them over and over. So, constantly showing your customers the same brand voice is a killer way to get your brand stuck in their heads and beef up your brand’s value.

Your brand voice guidelines are like the ultimate cheat sheet. Sure, they’ve got your brand voice chart, but they also pack in all the juicy details like what your brand’s all about, the vibe it’s going for, and the epic story it’s telling.

Think of these guidelines as part of a more extensive playbook that spells out everything from A to Z about rocking your brand’s style. And yes, we’re talking lots of examples to show you exactly how to nail your brand’s voice and what stuff is a big no-no.

For anyone in the brand management game, these guidelines are like gold. They’re your go-to for keeping everything looking and sounding on point, ensuring your brand always hits the right notes.

A few examples to learn from:

black motor scooter and black bicycles

The heavyweight in the luxury jewelry scene has this clever and chic way of talking that matches the classic vibe everyone associates with the brand.

Tiffany keeps it on point with timeless messaging, shining a light on the brand’s elegance.

Folks who fancy the way Tiffany speaks are way more down to shell out the big bucks for their accessories than other brands that don’t have quite the same sparkle in their voice.

a small white cup with a pink and blue design on it

Slack, the go-to app for workplace chats, sticks to a no-nonsense, straightforward, and straight-to-the-point way of talking.

Instead of leaning into jokes or crafting clever stories, Slack’s straight-shooting style underlines the importance of productivity and getting things done, highlighting the tool’s value.

Slack highlights how crucial their product is for work life by keeping their messages uncomplicated and fluff-free.

skittles in a row

Skittles is an example of a brand voice that elevates humor and cheekiness to new heights.

This confectionery brand is super creative and unique, frequently turning to social media to share hilarious polls, cheeky sneak peeks, and other lively and engaging content highlighting the product’s playful side.

Skittles also has a knack for posting about their main rival, M&Ms, in ways that turn the competition into something enjoyable and entertaining.

Author | Tyler Vaughn

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