How to Create a Recognizable Brand Voice
Branding is big right now, and for good reason. A good brand can set your business apart from the competition, and lest you think that's not a big deal, here's something to keep in mind:
That's a pretty good reason to carefully consider your brand. Because unless you're Wal-Mart or Amazon or can somehow guarantee the lowest price, you're going to need to give people a reason to choose you over everyone else. Branding can do this by creating a relationship with a customer that goes beyond price. Brands can make people feel comfortable (think La-z-boy) or excited (think Apple) or even exclusive (think Nasty Gal).
The problem with branding is that most people think it ends at a logo, when in fact that's a very small part of a complete brand. And branding is never really done - it continues throughout the life of a business.
Much of branding is visual, we will concede that. Logos, colors, graphics, even physical spaces should be carefully considered. But an element of branding that we think doesn't always get its fair shake is your brand's voice.
What company's logo is this?
There's no name. There's not even letters or initials. But c'mon. You know it's Starbucks, right?
Now, whose voice is this? (click the play arrow and make sure your speaker volume is up)
You can't see his face, he doesn't say his name. But c'mon. It's Morgan Freeman, right?
You want your brand's voice to be as recognizable as its logo.
While the visual elements of your brand are critical in making your customers feel or think a certain way, you also want your voice to be the one they hear above all the commotion, the one they recognize, even when they can't see your logo.
So how do you do find your brand's voice?
If you are just starting to put together your brand, or you are in the process of re-branding, then working with a branding company may be your best bet. We work collaboratively with Campfire & Co., who specializes in both graphic and physical branding spaces. Clients such as RIC Design Build, Try to Matter and Corgibyteshave worked with Campfire & Co. and The Content Chop Shop to ensure that the visual and vocal elements of their brand work together seamlessly.
If you already have a brand you love, but are having trouble finding your voice, you can come directly to us for help. We walk new clients through a "finding your voice" brainstorming process that forces you to look hard at who you are and what that sounds like. We'll consider your audience, your goals and your own personality and help you find a voice that is authentic - a quality that all customers are looking for in a brand.
If you don't have the option to work with a branding or content marketing company, there are still a few ways to find your voice on your own.
- Brainstorm. Write down all the words that describe your company or organization. Fill an entire page - heck, fill an entire journal of words or phrases that describe who your company is and what you do. Pick the top five words or phrases that best describe your brand from the list above. Then riff on each of those terms. Maybe your top five were: honest, caring, enthusiastic, helpful, and hard-working. Keep those at the top of your mind at all times when writing anything for your brand - from an email to a page of web copy, does your voice embody or convey those principles?
- Consider your audience or customers. Look at their posts on your social media outlets or dig deep into their emails or customer service requests. Notice terms and words they are using to describe you or your services. What are the things they seem to love the most about you? Play those things up. Maybe customers love that when they call your office they get a real person right away instead of a recording prompting them to punch button after button to get a real person. Use that.
- Forget English 101. Contrary to popular belief, your brand's voice isn't being graded by your high school English teacher. Do you know why so many companies have spokespeople or personas (think Flo, from Progressive; that weird gecko from Geico; anyone else you've ever seen on an insurance commercial)? Because people can relate to a real human being speaking like a real human being. Write like the persona of your company would speak. If your brand's voice is stiff and formal, then your company is going to feel distant and unwelcoming to potential customers. Keep good grammar and especially proper spelling in mind, but don't be afraid to loosen up and keep it real.
We encourage all businesses to take a good, hard look at their brand. Not just at your logo or your color scheme, but also at the voice you use to speak to your audience, customers or supporters. Is it adequately communicating what you want it to? Does it match your visual identity? Or does it need some vocal lessons? If so, contact us, and we will be happy to help you work on finding your own, unique, authentic voice.