The first question many entrepreneurs ask when they want to make their business grow beyond its initial steps is, what exactly is a brand voice?
Put succinctly, as one social media expert explains, brand voice is the distinct personality a brand takes on in its communications. This personality is applied to everywhere your brand speaks, including newsletters, social media posts, internal official communications like company announcements and advertising.
There, immediately another question pops up. If there is a brand voice, does that voice have a specific tone?
As you might imagine, the answer to that question is yes. There is a difference between the two, where the brand tone is actually a part of the brand voice. Both can be critically important for the way you communicate with your audience as a business. For them to achieve their purpose, they have to resonate with your intended audience and make your business stand out from the competition.
Essentially, a brand voice in many ways equals the personality of your brand and its tone is the manner in which a brand expresses its personality. The two are intertwined and always work together, so they have to be in full coordination with each other.
Brand personality and how to create the right one
As Content Marketing Institute points out, when creating your brand voice, you have to be really careful. “You can end up with a random assortment of voices and tones in the content … that doesn’t provide a consistent picture of your brand, or even use the same language consistently.”
They add that, “inconsistent brand experience is more common as an organization grows and is often exacerbated as external entities such as freelancers and agencies get thrown into the brand’s content creation mix.”
The reason we speak of brand voice and brand personality is not that you have to create “a non-human voice.” In many ways, you are actually comparing the brand voice, tone, and personality to a living person.
“ It’s about being consistent with the voice you are creating – positioning yourself as an easily identified and authoritative source for your area of expertise. Similarly, a consistent brand voice and vocabulary is essential to implementing localized content and intelligent content strategies effectively.”
The point is that you have to define the personality of your business, who you are, and how to present that personality effectively to the potential audience.
To potentially find the right brand voice is possibly a hard thing to do. The first persons that have to understand and embrace a certain brand voice are you and the complete personnel of your business.
If you or people working with you don’t understand what your brand stands for, what is its personality, voice, and tone are, neither will your potential audience and/or customers.
While some or all aspects of your potential brand voice might seem completely natural, it is not such an easy process to fully define them.
Google Design says that arriving at its brand “was the culmination of decades of reinvention and evolution.”
Defining your brand voice
There are quite a number of ‘how to’ guides with the intention of helping businesses define their brand voice. They include any number of steps that fall into the category of ‘three to thirty-three.’ All of that is just yet another sign that arriving at a brand voice that is a perfect fit is not an easy process.
So let us try to come up with a list of such steps that encompasses most of the advice that is out there. Here is the list of steps of defining your brand voice:
- Define your brand’s essence. The first set of questions any business has to ask itself falls within its core beliefs. Those questions include:
- What is the essential purpose of this business, why does it exist?
- The vision the business has, what is it out to do, create?
- The process by which it wants to achieve its goals, what does it involve?
- What are the essential values you and your business possess? Who are you, and how do you work?
- What is the profile of your audience/customers? This falls under the category of what many call the target audience. The first question here is who do you want to attract to your business. We are talking about real live persons, not an undefined general group. That is why you should start by creating a personality profile of your representative member of a potential audience.
- Know and understand your potential competition. You want and need to be different, to stand out from the potential competition. To do that you have to be fully aware and analyze what your competition is doing and how they are approaching their audience. See what fits your business and what doesn’t.
More on the defining process
- Defining the actual brand voice is usually a meeting of minds. Even if you’ve worked on your brand voice just by yourself, you still need to check out its effects. What seems to be working to you, might not have an effect on other people. That is why it is important to check the results you or your team have worked on within a group and as well as with a test audience.
- Within such a group there is a possible set of questions that you and/ or the group need to answer:
- How do we want our audience to feel when it comes in contact with our brand? What will our product or service do for our customers? Will we solve any of their problems, and how will we do that? Any brand voice should reflect answers to these questions.
- What would be a brief description of our brand? Usually, experts say it should be in three to five words. As per one example, a toy brand might describe themselves as “playful,” “silly,” and “adventurous.”
- How can our brand voice be different from one of our competitors? A brand voice that works for one industry branch high not work in the other. You will always need to find a definition that stands out from the others in the same branch.
- Is there another brand out there that appeals to us? It is not a question of copying somebody else’s ideas, but how you can create a similar emotion.
- What is the manner in which we want to talk about ourselves? Linguistics and the language you use are certainly important. This defines and refines your brand voice.
- Who defines what we don’t want to be? Define what is contrary to your values and what it is you want to avoid.
Brand voice examples
So what would be some clear examples of a brand voice? The best way to approach this is by comparing different brand voices of companies working in the same branch and seemingly having the same approach.
One such example is of two boutique grocery stores. One is Trader Joe’s and the other is Whole Foods.
On the surface, their approach seems quite alike. Yet, as some experts point out, they emphasize different things. As retailers, the key part of their content marketing strategy is their product descriptions.
Here, Whole Foods are emphasizing that their cheese is organic and that there are no additives. They also stress that the cheese has fewer calories and less fat per serving. Essentially, their key point is that this cheese is good for you.
What about Trader Joe’s?
In this part of their ad, they don’t even mention health. Their key point is that they went on a valiant quest for this cheese. They concentrate on an adventure and they use very colorful language to describe that ‘quest.’ Essentially, their focus is on rare and exotic.
Businesses operating in different industries or branches take a different approach with their brand voices. Email marketing company MailChimp wants to present email marketing as easy and accessible. That is why its brand voice is friendly, familiar, and straightforward.
On the other hand, Deloitte is a multinational professional services company. Its brand voice can be defined as clear, confident, and human.
The final example is from a company called Love Beauty and Planet. Their target audience is millennial women that want to use environmentally conscious beauty products. Their brand voice can be defined as passionate, caring, and friendly.
Find your brand voice
From all of the above, including the examples, it becomes quite evident that finding and defining your brand voice is not such a clear-cut and easy process.
One person might come up with the initial branding idea, but it can be quite a detailed process to reach the exact brand voice that suits any particular business. That brand voice involves so many aspects that can include everything from how to use conversational voice to using social media tools like Twitter Spaces.
During that process, it is very helpful to consult as many relevant people working within the business. After all, that brand voice will represent them too, as well as everybody else working within the company.
At the same time though, it is often very necessary to consult outside branding experts. That can include a number of people from designers, audio and video consultants to content writers, and advertising experts.
Of course, with such outside help, there are two ways to approach this. You can hire an all-encompassing expert agency or you can engage freelancers for each specific task where you need additional expertise.
The first approach might give you a unified solution/proposal. At the same time though, it might be on the more financially demanding side.
Freelancers not only can be a more affordable solution but can help you with a very specific task tied to defining your brand voice and putting it into action. They also might be a better solution for smaller-sized businesses.
If the second approach is what you think is more suited to you, BunnyStudio just might be the right solution. We can help you with a selection of one or more freelancers that can help you with your brand voice needs.