Every time your organisation communicates – be it through website copy, a promotional advert, social media post or blog – you’re exercising your brand voice. This might be something you already integrate in your written content, or it might be an idea that’s unfamiliar. If it’s the latter, now’s the time to start paying attention!
Having a unique brand voice that differentiates you from the competition is a key part of making your message stand out in your marketplace.
This article will look at techniques to establish and hone your brand voice, to make you instantly recognisable to your target customers.
What is brand voice?
Brand voice communicates a company’s values, identity and its place in the market. The goal of a brand voice is to create a purposeful and consistent brand personality, image and positioning.
To achieve this, brand voice has to include uniformity of language, values and other characteristics. It also has to be applied deliberately through all of your company content, across all your communication channels.
How to hone your brand voice
1) Understand your personality
The first step to defining your brand voice is pinning down your brand personality. If your brand were a person, what would it say? How would it act? What would it do? If you aren’t 100% clear on this, list some adjectives describing your organisation as a starting-point. For example:
My brand is _________:
- Sincere: Your brand is honest and genuine. You value trust.
- Fun: Your brand knows how to raise a smile and is anything but dull.
- Creative: Your brand is imaginative and original. You don’t just follow the herd.
Once you’ve established these key attributes you can hone your brand voice further by fleshing them out.
2) Establish your brand’s values
What does your CEO believe about your organisation? How do they want their staff to feel about it? Are you a serious, strictly-business kind of operation or a friendly, laid-back one?
If this isn’t immediately obvious, get a steer from your company’s leadership. This will allow you to start reinforcing these core values to hone your brand voice, so that you’re promoting the same, consistent message across all your channels.
Similarly, if your organisation has specific beliefs around issues such as ethics, make sure your customers know. For example, don’t make it difficult for your users to find information about your organisation’s squeaky-clean environmental credentials!
3) Gather a representative sample of your content
Look at your organisation’s existing content. Don’t leave anything out, collect everything from web pages to video clips, social media content and offline material.
Now, examine these pieces of content – which of them are unique to your brand and really embody the spirit of your organisation? Which of them are generic, and could have come from a similar organisation?
Whittle them down until you have a small number that are particularly representative of your organisation and hold onto them! (Don’t forget to include visuals as these are an extension of your brand voice.)
4) Create a brand voice outline
If you’re still getting to grips with your brand voice, it can be helpful to outline its key characteristics including the type of language you want to use or avoid. Having a written record that everyone can refer to will make it easier to follow a consistent style.
You might choose to do this in the form of a chart, including rows for each of your brand voice’s primary characteristics, as in the below example:
|Concise||We want our content to be impactful and easy to digest.||Use short sentences, short words, be direct, avoid industry jargon, waffle and clichés||Use flowery language, detailed examples, long sentences, passive voice, lose focus|
5) Ensure your key people understand how to implement your brand voice
So, you’ve documented your brand voice using a simple chart like the above. Perhaps you’ve gone further and created a comprehensive set of brand voice guidelines.
The next step is to make sure that everyone is on-board with using it. Meet with your team – anyone who creates your content or is involved in your communications – and ensure they are up to speed.
Provide them with examples of content you’d like to see, and talk them through examples that don’t reflect your brand voice and need revising. Make sure they have access to your brand voice chart and any other guidelines you’ve created.
6) Revisit and update your brand voice guidelines as needed
Your brand voice isn’t set in stone. As your organisation and your audience evolve, so too will your brand voice.
So, there you have it! Our 6 easy steps to hone your brand voice. Try them out today and see how your audience responds.