Have you ever heard something about a friend that you know dearly, only to have the reaction, “Well, that doesn’t sound like something Susan would do!”
Your basis for disagreeing with someone’s story of Susan is based on your time together with Susan, the way Susan acts, what Susan does - essentially what you know to be Susan’s character.
While your business isn’t a person, developing a strong brand voice will help customers and potential customers start to recognize your business not always by the logo, but by the words in your communication and the tone and style of the message - basically by your business’ “personality”.
“Seems complicated Vivian, will the payoff be worth the time I invest in discovering my business' brand voice?”
100%, hands down.
Developing a brand voice will help elevate your business’ recognition. Customers will begin to see your business less as a business, and more as a person with a personality. And that is worth it’s weight in gold, because it not only humanizes your brand but also makes it relatable.
Brand voice is what your business says and how your business says it…literally. There are four key components that make up brand voice:
- Words and verbiage that you use in your advertising, content and communication with your customers
- Tone of your responses when you’re interacting with customers on social media
- Your business' personality / character
- Your purpose
Your main goal is to develop a brand voice that is consistent so that your customers (or potential customers) will be able to recognize your ads and content EVEN if your logo isn’t on it, just by the style, tone and verbiage. And just like you can say, “Well, that doesn’t sound like something Susan would do” - customers and potential customers should be able to say “that does sound like something [insert your business name here] would say or do”.
So how in the world do you even begin to develop a brand voice for your business? The truth is, it isn’t difficult - it just takes a little bit of time and a TON of consistency. The hardest part of developing a brand voice is making sure that every piece of external communication, ads, content or marketing materials are using the same verbiage, tone and relaying the same voice attributes. This is a little easier to do if you are personally handling all of the creative work or content for the aforementioned pieces, but if you use a marketing firm or advertising agency - you’ll want to be sure to discuss with them your brand voice guidelines. [Or even if you have a small internal marketing team pumping out your ads or content, be sure they understand clearly what your voice attributes are and how to relay those effectively.]
I know, I know…the word GUIDELINES just makes it seem so time consuming and intense…but don’t worry, I’ve created an easy to use Brand Voice Guidelines Worksheet and have broken it down for you.
So, if you are ready to discover your business’ brand voice…let’s get started.
First you’ll want to download the Brand Voice Guidelines Worksheet here and follow these 4 simple steps to fill it out:
- Gather a sampling of content, ads or any marketing material that you have put out into the community/public within the past 6 months. Read through each ad, communication or piece of content and see if you spot any pattern when it comes to tone or verbiage. Is there maybe a vibe or feel? (Is there a consistent use of humor? Is it straight to the point, strictly informational? Is your verbiage ‘down-to-earth’ and friendly?)
- Taking into account your sampling, describe your brand personality. Literally pretend your business is a person, give your business a person’s name: Would it be a Bob or a Jose? Would it be a Susan or a Jacqueline? Write down 10-12 descriptive words in the shaded box to describe the personality of your business. Is Susan - honest, friendly, approachable, warm and playful? Is Jacqueline - authoritative, professional, inspiring?
- Review your 10-12 words, categorize them into 3 or 4 Voice Attributes. ie. If I described Susan as honest, warm and playful than I would identify “Authentic” as a voice attribute. If she is honest, warm and playful than that must mean she is comfortable in her own skin and always authentic. Now define each Voice Attribute. For this example, if our business (aka Susan) is authentic, than it means that we are always helpful to our customers, if we don’t sell the right product to fill their need, we will tell them and steer away from selling them something that won’t fill their need. We are authentic, we take that very seriously!
- Now take it one step further and give brief examples of DO’s and DONT’S for each Voice Attribute. For example, since one of our voice attributes is authentic - we do use straight-forward communication but using layman’s terms, we don’t use industry terms or acronyms and we don’t overcomplicate our communication. We do go above and beyond to make sure all of our information is accurate and current when creating content, we don’t create content without double-checking for accuracy or don’t omit information to have it fit our need. Do this for all 3-4 Voice Attributes.
Viola! You now have simple and easy to reference Brand Voice Guidelines. These guidelines should be shared with anybody that is helping you create content, ads or any external communication that is going out into the community you serve.
Remember, developing an AUTHENTIC brand voice for your business will not only boost your recognition, but also help you build stronger and deeper relationships with your customers. Stay consistent with the words you use, the tone of your communications and the overall messaging. The more consistent you are with the voice of your brand, the easier it will become for your customers and potential customers to know what to expect (and not expect) from your business!