3 proven steps to nailing your brand voice
Your brand has a voice. It's in how you talk. It's in how you look. It reflects your personality.
You may have experienced a brand with a very distinct voice. For an example, check out Dollar Shave Club's witty, slightly off-kilter voice. It comes through in everything from their product names to their newsletter.
A well-defined brand voice makes you instantly recognizable and builds trust with those you hope to engage. Without it, you risk missing these opportunities. Worse yet, a garbled brand voice diminishes your impact with prospects, even causing confusion and frustration.
Establishing an intentional, clear, and unique brand voice is one of the smartest things you can do for your organization. Here are 3 steps to make that happen.
1. Audit your brand voice
There is much to be learned from pulling together examples of how you speak as an organization. Look at past communications (both verbal and visual examples). And gather current examples from your sales presentations, social channels, employee communications, marketing, and more.
Look for traits that reoccur. Identify the communications that do a good job of representing what your brand stands for. This examination will help you uncover clues to your brand voice and can even reveal areas that are worth amplifying.
2. Define the characteristics of your brand voice
Now it's time to get specific with the characteristics of your voice. Using the research you did in your audit, you will develop a list of characteristic spectrums. Here is a sample list:
Rational < - - - - - - - - - - > Emotional
Informative < - - - - - - - - - - > Inspiring
Expert < - - - - - - - - - - > Peer
Serious < - - - - - - - - - - > Humorous
Objective < - - - - - - - - - - > Persuasive
Mature < - - - - - - - - - - > Youthful
Traditional < - - - - - - - - - - > Non-traditional
Pragmatic < - - - - - - - - - - > Idealistic
Conventional < - - - - - - - - - - > Unconventional
Cosmopolitan < - - - - - - - - - - > Folksy
We go beyond choosing a list of characteristics to pairing each with it's opposite. We then plot where the organization lands on each spectrum. After all, no brand is completely rational or completely emotional. By plotting a point on each spectrum, we capture a much more nuanced representation of the foundation of the brand's voice.
You can plot these yourself or pull together a group and workshop it.
3. Write it down
Take a look at the spectrums that you have created and write a description of the personality you have defined. It is important that you write this as if you were describing a real person. This will make your brand voice come to life.
I like to create a set of characteristic spectrums for each major audience we will be addressing and then write a description for each. These will provide guidance for how you speak to your employees, your prospects and customers, your investors, and any other distinct group your brand speaks to.
Great brands have a well-defined voice. It can seem almost effortless in how it comes to life in all they say and do. But it doesn’t happen magically. It takes being deliberate. Discovering, defining, and documenting. By doing so, it can result in one the most valuable assets a brand develops.