August 24, 2018

Brand voice 101: How your brand’s personality is interlinked with its voice

brand voice - a loudspeaker screaming "BRAND"

A brand without a distinct tone of communication – or voice – fails to have a unique personality when communicating with its consumers. A brand voice doesn’t exist in a vacuum. It is a big part of your brand’s image and should work in sync with its social media presence, website, blogs, and all external communication.

How do you speak to your audience in a way that is ‘you’? Here are some factors to keep in mind while creating a brand voice that effectively cuts through the noise:

Look at the competition

When you write like everyone else and sound like everyone else and act like everyone else, you’re saying, ‘Our products are like everyone else’s too’,” writes Jason Fried in a column on business writing. If the brand you’re creating content for already operates in a cluttered space, your job to stand out becomes that much harder. Have a thorough look at what the competition is up to, how they interact with their audience, and then decide how to be different from all of them.

Don’t be swept away by what’s popular; always remain true to your brand’s core personality. For instance, Sprout Social’s survey shows that only 33% of audiences like brands that are snarky. However, Wendy’s burger chain has owned this tone of voice with their sassy tweets directed at customers and competition alike. And people love it because it suits the brand perfectly.

Define your brand personality by voice

Sprout Social’s study also shows that 86% of consumers are looking for honesty from their brands on social media, with friendliness, helpfulness, and humour following closely.

If your brand were a person, what three descriptors would you use to tell people about it? Zeroing in on this can help you sharpen the nuances of your communication, as outlined in the table below:

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Know your audience

Considering your target group’s demographic profile is essential to establish your brand’s voice. For instance, if your audience consists of young adults aged 18-25, you need to communicate with them through a voice they can relate to.

This is especially important while engaging with them directly on social media. Replying to Twitter queries, Instagram comments, and criticism on your Facebook or Twitter page, while tactfully handling social media trolls – all these actions usually require a quick response, so it’s essential that social media custodians are well-versed with the brand voice suitable for your audience.

Humanise your brand

As consumers, we do not like brands that send us automated responses each time we have a query or a concern. As a brand, you must address your consumers on a personalised level to gain their trust.

Besides, consumers come to associate a certain voice and tone of communication with you. Your audience will be put off by communication that seems robotic, stock, and jargon-ridden. Having a humanised brand voice goes a long way, especially if there is a crisis that needs to be addressed in real-time.

A few years ago, DiGiorno Pizza carelessly tweeted with the hashtag around domestic violence ‘#WhyIStayed’ without checking the context. This resulted in a backlash from several victims of abuse who were rightly offended. DiGiorno did the mature thing and sent every offended tweeter a personalised apology, which helped to pacify an angry set of followers.

Be consistent across all touchpoints

This might seem like a given, but it is actually the easiest to miss. For all content creators of your brand to consistently get the voice right, you must have some basic ground rules in place. Remember, it is never going to be one person working on your brand’s content forever. For uniformity, it’s best to create a guidelines sheet for content creators to work with seamlessly.

For example, your guidelines could specify some or all of the following:

  • Employ short, crisp sentences with simple words for quick and clear understanding
  • Use the first person (we, us) and second person (you, yours) pronouns instead of impersonal nouns (consumers, people)
  • Don’t confuse the audience with jargon and technical terms; break down concepts wherever possible
  • Avoid clichés (overused words and phrases such as leverage, momentum, full-service solutions provider etc.) that can make your communication lacklustre
  • Be colloquial only if your brand personality and voice allows it

Following these simple rules will give your brand the voice it needs and will leave your audience knowing exactly who you are.