Danielle St. Cyr
5 Easy Steps to Developing Your Brand Voice
Marketers often focus on the visual look and style of a brand to an incredible degree, obsessing over color choices and fonts. But what is equally important is brand voice – which can help you stand out in a very crowded arena. So what *is* brand voice? Well, it’s sort of how you want your company to be remembered after a consumer reads your email, or your website, or one of your tweets. It’s the company personality that flows through all of your communications, and it can be expressed in word choices, addition of humor, quirky anecdotes, or a myriad of other ways.
But why is brand voice important? As we said above, it’s what makes your company unique. It’s the reason someone follows you on Instagram, or signs up for your company emails, or even pokes around for a few extra minutes on your website. It’s the feeling that you want to convey about your company – your values, your mission, your goals, the reason a consumer should like you and want more of your content. According to SproutSocial, consumers think engagement with your audience is the most important factor in making a brand’s social media “best in class”, along with transparency, customer service, memorable content, and a distinct personality. All of these factors are rolled up into your brand voice. A strong and likeable company voice can help you grow and maintain your following and engagement and consequently help increase your leads and sales.
To get you started, here’s our 5 easy tips for creating a compelling brand voice:
Start with what you have. Review your company’s mission statement and vision for starter ideas on how your company should speak and feel. Then gather and look through a representative sample of your content. Pick 10-20 pieces of content you feel most represent your brand and how you want customers to see you, and see what they have in common. Are there words that are repeated? Adjectives that describe the writing or message? What makes these particular pieces of content stand out, and how do they make you feel?
List 5 words that describe your brand from Step 1. Then ask your employees (making sure to get input from all levels of the company, and all types of positions) if those words really describe your company. You can refine the list, or add more brand words from your employee research.
Then do audience research – make sure you understand who your audience is, what they want from their content, what they like, and how they like to be spoken to. Look at some of your best customers and how they present themselves in their online presence, and also look at some potential future customers for appropriate ways you may want to tweak your list of brand words. Remember, it’s not as important to be on-trend as it is to be authentic to your company.
Develop a brand voice guide, starting with a chart that lists these brand voice words (characteristics), a short description, and dos and don’ts for each. Then create a document with clear guidelines available to all who create content in your company so they always have something to reference, and walk each of the content creators through the document with examples. Keep in mind, not every circumstance or even every channel calls for the same exact voice, and as MailChimp says “it’s always more important to be clear than entertaining.”
Continually update your brand voice guide, as over time your brand voice may change or refine, so make sure you reflect this. Again, get input from all areas of the company and take cues from public sentiment at the time. However, don’t just change to be popular – make sure you stay true to your company ideals and message, or you will come across as inauthentic.
A distinctive and genuine brand voice can be the thing that rockets your company to the top of the content stack. It’s the thing that sets your brand apart, and makes you compelling and unique. Following these 5 steps will ensure all of your content feels like you, and that you leave a memorable impression on consumers’ minds. If you’d like some help with refining your brand voice, contact us and we’re ready to help you get started!