If you’re exploring how to create a killer brand, you’ve no doubt come across “brand voice”.
When putting out content of any kind, you need to make sure your brand voice is always consistent, as cohesion is key to building your brand persona, bringing in new customers, and holding on to loyal ones.
But how can you make sure your content is always written in the same voice? Especially when you’ve got a whole team of marketers? That’s what we’re going to be exploring in this article, looking at the different elements of brand voice, how you can develop it through your content, and keep it consistent.
What is a brand voice?
When you speak to someone you know, you’re undoubtedly aware of how they speak. The slang they use, how they phrase their sentences, the tone and inflections, and how they highlight the important parts of a story. Every person has a unique voice - even just talking to a stranger for a few minutes gives you an insight into who they are as a person, just based on how they communicate.
This unique style of communication is that person’s “brand voice”. It’s the personality your brand needs to take on in all of your communications, whether on landing pages, social media, email, or wherever.
The crucial thing about a brand voice is that it needs to be consistent. Just like how you’d know something was off about your friend if the way they talked suddenly shifted, customers will be sensitive to changes in your brand’s communication style.
An effective brand voice creates cohesion across the board and helps a business stand out from the rest. Customers can better relate to a brand that has a strong voice, as it turns them into less of a faceless entity, and more like a familiar friend.
This is especially important for B2B brands, which can often be perceived as more “boring” and less personable than their B2C counterparts.
How to develop a brand voice
Before you can develop your brand voice, you need to establish what type of impression your brand is currently putting out with its content. Conduct a content audit and gather a representative sample from landing pages, emails, social media posts, etc. Take a look at what kind of tone it’s emanating and if this is helping you stand out from your competitors, or if it comes across as a carbon copy of what everyone else is doing.
If your brand voice isn’t standing out from the crowd, you need to access why. To help establish your brand’s way of speaking, ask yourself the following:
- Who is your audience?
- What makes you different from your competitors?
- What are your company’s values?
- What value is your content offering your audience?
- What’s the goal of your content?
Once you’ve answered these questions, you can start to get to grips with your brand voice and think more in-depth about the intricacies of what kind of language your content uses to get your tone across to your audience.
Style is the way something’s written. A style can help inform a reader what a piece of content is about while they’re reading it, long before the topic is even made clear. Your style can be determined by elements like sentence length, word choice, and structure.
Your style needs to align with your audience. So if you’re targeting C-suite managers, your content will need to reflect their expectations.
Tone can often be confused with style, but it refers to the attitude that’s conveyed in the writing and can be reflected in things like objectivity, intimacy, formality, and more.
Like with style, your audience and your company’s values will determine the tone you should take with your content. Some marketers, especially those in B2B, may think that humor’s off-limits. But depending on the audience you’re reaching out to, it could be the perfect way to engage them, especially if your industry isn’t known for being particularly exciting.
Using the right kind of terminology in your content helps your audience gauge straight away what your brand’s all about. A glossary of terms in your industry and niche will be invaluable to your marketers, so they can ensure they’re always using the right words in their content.
Alongside a list of words you want to use consistently across your content, you can also create a list of words you never want to use. By having clear guidelines for terminology in your content, you’ll help create cohesion across all channels, and develop a consistent brand voice.
Keeping your brand voice consistent
Once your brand voice has been developed, you need to make sure everyone on the marketing team is using this voice in everything they produce. From your email marketers, content writers, and social media execs, everyone needs to work together to keep the brand voice consistent across all channels.
The most effective way to do this is with a tone of voice document or brand guidelines. This guide will help your current employees stay consistent, but will also be a valuable tool for any new hires so they can get to grips with content production from the get-go.
Your guide needs to introduce your brand voice and tone, going into what your brand stands for and an outline of your company mission. It then needs to give detailed information about creating content for different channels and highlight the right tonal values that apply to each channel. Your guidelines should include:
- Sentence length and structure
- Grammar and spelling
- A company glossary
- Level of formality
- Personality and tone
Give plenty of examples of best-practice for your brand voice across the different channels, demonstrating the content in a real context. You could also include some worst example versions of the same content to give an idea of the tone that you want to avoid for your brand.
When your guideline’s in place, put it somewhere where anyone in the company can easily access it and add it to your company onboarding kit. You may also want to run some brand voice workshops periodically to ensure everyone’s on the same page, and to refresh people’s memories if you ever feel like your content is slipping in terms of consistency.
By keeping a consistent brand voice across your content marketing, you can begin to build recognition and loyalty for your brand. When you have firm guidance in place, all your content will read like it’s been written by a hive mind, regardless of who’s writing it.
Ever had issues with your brand voice? Maybe you’ve got some top tips on how to keep it consistent? Let us know!