How easy is it for people to recognize your brand if you strip your visual identity away? If you aren’t sure, it might be an interesting exercise to work through with a few of your trusted customers. If you are just getting started, then you get to build a great foundation for your brand voice from the start.
What is brand voice anyway? Simply put, it is the voice of the team behind the brand. That’s right, humans run the show, so your goal should be to humanize your brand – to put a face to it. Brand voice is important if you want to start a dialogue with your audience (tip: you should want to connect with your audience). There are two key aspects to your brand voice:
- Identity/character: You should be able to describe your identity using one or more adjectives.
- Tone: This is the added flavour based on your target audience and your chosen channels.
Consistency is key across all channels so your brand voice is easily recognizable. It is easier to be consistent if you are starting small, but as you grow and add more people to your marketing team, you need to make sure there are guidelines in place. That means dong a bit more work up front so you are set up for success in the long run.
So, how do you figure out what your brand voice is? Here are five easy steps to help.
Step 1: Identity
To figure out your brand voice, you need to figure out who you are as a brand – to define your brand identity/character. There are many contributing factors when it comes to your brand identity. Ask yourself:
- Why did the company launch?
- How are we different?
- What is our company culture?
- How do you fit within the competitive landscape?
- What type of content have you written that uniquely resonates with who you want to be as a brand? (if you aren’t new to the game)
These types of questions will help you figure out what type of personality your brand would have if it were a person. After brainstorming on the above questions, describe the personality portrayed using three words – three character traits that represent your brand well.
Once you identify these character traits, explore how they could translate into your overall brand messaging.
Step 2: Community
Now that you have a solid brand identity, have you identified who your customers will be? Your customers and your target audience can be considered your brand community. They are the people you will interact with on a regular basis and will drive the success of your business. And don’t forget about the influencers in your industry. They can be valuable members of your community when it comes to spreading the word and growing your reach in numbers.
Just as you gave yourself a brand identity in step one, you need to list all of the details about your community – age, gender, geography, purchase behaviour, online activity, etc.
Step 3: Language
Language is a huge part of how you will connect with your audience. It’s the “seasoning” in your dialogue. Whether you choose to be formal or informal, complex or simple, fun or serious, your vocabulary should resonate with your community.
A few things to note are that if you have an extremely technical community that already understands what it is you have to offer, jargon is ok. However, if your audience isn’t as familiar with those terms, you risk alienating your target audience.
One common mistake that brands make is that they become less relevant over time if they have chosen to rely on slang terms as a large part of their vocabulary. Using slang is fine, but you need to remember that it shifts with communication trends. Always make sure you revisit your language as you see the trends shifting.
Step 4: Emotion
Whether you intend to or not, your content will elicit some sort of emotional response. That response could be anger, happiness, nostalgia, sadness, even boredom. Rather than rely on chance, consider how you want to make your customers feel. How do you feel when communicating with your customers? Remember, your target audience will get what you give. So, if you are bored, they will be bored.
Step 5: Connect
The first thing to remember when it comes time to connect is that you should pretend you are marketing a person, not a company. Converse with your target audience as if you were a human talking to another human. After all, your brand voice is representative of the people behind the brand, right? If your brand was a person, what relationship would you have to your customer? Are you the wise elder? A coach? A parent? A friend?
A great way to build consistency among a growing marketing team when it comes to interacting with your community is to figure out common communication points and have pre-worded responses. For example, initially responding to a customer complaint should be dealt with consistently across all team members and channels. Or, perhaps you have questions that are frequently asked to clarify your product/service offerings. The only caution here is that you don’t want people feeling like they are being brushed off with an auto-responder. To avoid this response, plan for a few different pre-worded responses or allow for a few open-ended scripts to give your team the chance to personalize a little more.
Your brand voice should represent you and your company. While it will take a bit of practice getting used to consistently using it, you will make it easier on yourself if you stay true to who you are.
Having trouble figuring out your brand voice? Or maybe what you want to be just doesn’t match who you are on the outside (your brand visuals)? SongBird is a quick call or email away and we can get you going on the right track.