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5 Tips For Developing a Strong Brand Voice

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For most, the first things that come to mind when recognizing a brand are likely a company’s logo, color scheme, specific fonts, or even custom design styles. Beyond using imagery to create a sense of familiarity, there is one key factor that ensures your business is instantly recognizable: a brand voice. So let’s start from the beginning: what is a brand voice?

What is a brand voice?

A brand voice is a distinct tone and personality your organization embodies while communicating. A few years back, when traditional marketing was the main outlet for reaching your audience, maintaining the same voice throughout all correspondence was a far less complex task. 

With the introduction of social media, brands are now interacting with their consumers weekly. The frequency presents the challenge of maintaining a personality for your brand consistently throughout all outlets. 

That’s why we took the liberty of pulling together our top 5 tips for developing and maintaining a brand voice! Let’s dive in. 

1.) Develop a strategic brand voice guide

Take the time and do the appropriate research to develop a detailed guide for your brand voice. Chances are you have a visual brand guide or a marketing strategy for your business. When you dive into developing your brand voice guide, you will use a similar approach. Key things you need to keep top of mind are your company’s core values and mission statement. Having these on hand, you will be able to pull some of your company’s defining personality traits. 

For your brand voice guide to be successful, there are a few sections you need to build out. These consist of those personality traits mentioned above, habitual vocabulary terms, and phrases your brand uses consistently. Another major piece of information you want to include is examples. You can never provide too many examples for your team. 

Having these on hand ensures the individuals writing on your behalf have a clear understanding of how to portray your brand voice accurately. Make sure you provide examples of how your team should write within your intended brand personality and what will fall outside the parameters of your defined style.

Pro Tip: The term ‘personality’ is known primarily as a human trait. With that in mind, your team can perform an exercise where you imagine your brand as a person. This imagery will help narrow down your preferred voice characteristics. Would this person be comical? Informative? Audacious? Use those identified traits as the foundation on which you build your voice. 

2.) Ensure you have an understanding of your target audience

When you start to build out your brand voice guidelines, a great place to start is by taking a closer look at your target audience or buyer personas. Why do you ask? Because while you are developing your guide, it is crucial to keep in mind what tone and language will resonate with them. 

For example, if your clientele is typically an older audience, you will likely avoid slang terms or using “trends” to get your message across. The last thing you want to do is alienate your brand by using language that does not appeal to those you are trying to reach. 

Pro Tip: Ensure your brand voice aligns with all of your company’s current operations and values. This voice is the “personality” of your brand, which means the more you align, the more you will ensure authenticity. 

3.) Take a closer look at the voice you have been currently using 

Chances are you are not stumbling across this post with a blank slate to build off. If that is the case, we recommend you perform an audit of all your published communications. Places you should look to find examples of your current voice would be your social media channels, email campaigns, and even your website. As you are reviewing, you may come across inconsistencies. These will be due to the lack of having defined terms or various authors. 

Another thing that should stand out is your top-performing traits! You can recognize these based on how your audience interacts with your content. What do the newsletters and social media posts that have performed exceptionally well have in common? Take those traits and add them to your brand voice guide. You already know they provoke a positive response from your audience.

Pro Tip: Use your audience to help build on your brand voice. Your clients will be interacting with your organization organically. Keep an eye out for frequently used key terms or phrases that you can add to your guidelines to create a low-effort, high-impact voice.

4.) Define the scenarios in which you will use different tones  

There will be occasions when you do not use the same tone to communicate with your audience. Remember when we provided examples in the brand voice guide for what fits your company personality and what does not? We will also add specifications that are scenario-based into our brand voice guide. 

For example, the tone you use when relaying exciting company news is not the tone you will use to rectify a customer complaint. Identifying those various categories on the front end will ensure your brand voice remains consistent even though your tenor changes. 

Pro Tip: Create business style guidelines. Companies such as Sprout Social use this method to fine-tune their tone. Think of every time you communicate with your audience, whether that voice is formal or casual. By breaking down your guide by content type, you provide your team with the tools they need to feel confident in the content they are producing.

5.) Be bold and adaptable 

Once you have created your brand voice guidelines, you may think your work is complete. However, to ensure that your personality and tone remain consistent and authentic, you will need to review these guidelines periodically. Language evolves significantly from year to year, so you want to ensure that you are up-to-date and relevant. 

An example of this is that using GIFs on social media was not nearly as mainstream five years ago as it is today. Without checking in periodically, you run the risk of your voice being outdated or out of touch. 

Pro Tip: Create designated times to review your brand voice guide to ensure consistency. You could choose to visit this once a year or on a bi-annual basis. Another imperative time to revisit your brand voice is when your company goes through rebranding.

What’s next?

Now that you have our top 5 tips for developing and maintaining a strong brand voice, it is time for you to start creating. If you find yourself in need of more inspiration, check out some of our other blog posts such as How Businesses Can Use StoryBrand to Clarify Your Messaging, Effective Branding: The Must-Haves for a Memorable Brand, or even Perfecting Your Brand Voice

Have more questions? We would love to hear from you.

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Amanda Dewrell

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