Establishing Your Brand Voice for BIG Impact
Have you ever experienced the world of online dating? In many ways, it reminds me of creating a brand voice. You set up a profile, carefully select a few pictures, and craft a brief description of who you are. A stranger decides to disengage or learn more within seconds of engaging your profile. The words, tone, and images you select to represent your personality to your ideal audience could lead to a brief encounter, instant rejection, or a lifetime of love. Intentionally establishing your brand voice has the potential to create a similarly significant and lasting impact.
Understanding Brand Voice and Why It Matters
Simply put, your brand voice is your brand’s personality. It comprises various components, including your values, word choice, tone, and perspective. Just like we are drawn to certain human personalities, your brand voice should attract your ideal audience. Often this requires thoughtful consideration to identify each component of your brand voice and consistently create content that captures it in a way that cultivates recognition and trust.
Establishing Your Brand Voice
You could likely tell me multiple brand names that have captured your attention. You remember their taglines, the latest celebrity in their ads, or what’s unique about their products or services. But, just because a brand has captured your attention doesn’t mean they have your allegiance. If your brand wants to cultivate real impact, your brand voice must be compelling enough to convert fans into lifetime ambassadors.
Identify Your Impact
To create a lasting impression, you need to know what kind of impact your brand is after. Getting clarity around your mission and values will provide a North Star to keep you on track as you work to establish your brand voice.
You are likely familiar with Patagonia. You might have one of their coats, but you are also probably aware that they are not in the outdoor gear business. Patagonia has identified its impact by stating, “We’re in business to save our home planet.” Their values state how they intend to achieve this impact. They commit to “build the best products, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to protect nature, and not be bound by convention.” Their commitment to this impact is compelling, as they have reached $1 billion in revenue for the past three years.
When identifying your impact, consider:
- Mission. Articulate what matters to your company. Beyond the products you offer or the services you provide, why does your company exist?
- Values. What behaviors and attitudes must stay consistent to ensure your company accomplishes the mission you set? Choosing your brand’s values helps your team and clients understand your expectations.
Do Your Research
The best decisions are backed by data. Using simple tools and processes can help you collect an accurate view as you work to define your brand voice. Analyze your data to find the similarities and differences that set your brand apart from your competitors. Don’t disregard the outliers too quickly. They could be the secret element that makes your brand unique.
- Look Inward. It always helps to start by taking a good long look in the mirror. Conduct a content audit to deepen your understanding of your brand’s voice in the marketplace. Your team members are intimate with your brand, so asking how they would describe it can provide clarity.
- Look Outward. You can develop an understanding of your current audience using online tools like Google Analytics. If they aren’t your ideal customers, there are likely elements in your brand voice that need to shift for you to connect with your target audience.
Developing brand personas can help you articulate who your ideal audience is. Consider what they value, other brands they engage with, and the language they use as you work to establish engagement. When you know who you’re talking to, you can tailor the message to form the connection needed to create impact.
You can also conduct audience surveys. These don’t have to be official surveys. You can simply ask your current customers how they would describe your brand or why they choose to do business with you.
Pin Down Your Personality
You need to be distinct if you want to make a difference. Trying to be all things may seem like a good strategy for success, but in the end, it leaves your customers confused and makes your brand forgettable.
- Personify Your Brand. If your brand was a friend, how would you describe them? Think of the qualities this friend would possess. Consider how they would make you feel. Begin brainstorming a list of the traits that define your brand’s personality.
- Narrow It Down. Yes, your brand may have more than five traits, but clarity creates focus, and focus fuels impact. So pare your list to three to five qualities that describe what makes your brand unique.
- Know What You Are Not. Now that you’ve gained some clarity around your brand’s personality, it can help to get specific about what this doesn’t mean for your brand. You may define your brand as edgy, but that doesn’t mean you are rude. Maybe you are sophisticated but not inaccessible. Take time to refine what is not a part of your brand personality.
Having established clarity around your brand voice, you are in a position to achieve your desired impact. To get there, it’s important to understand the research around trust.
Trust is the essential element for achieving impact. According to the 2021 Edelman Trust Barometer Special Report, 88% of respondents said it was important to trust a brand to support them. As you can see from the image below, the need to establish brand trust is increasing. Younger generations are more mindful consumers, requiring more alignment and transparency from your brand to gain their business.
4 Keys to Ensuring Impact
Legends aren’t built overnight. Most brands with significant recognition in the marketplace have integrated their brand voice with discipline and intention to support their stated mission. Practicing these four key strategies will ensure your brand voice creates a big impact.
1. Define Your Brand Story
Story is the invitation your brand voice extends. It has the power to capture your audience by showing them their own reality and the possibilities you’re offering.
Remember that repetition drives recognition. So craft your brand story, then learn to tell it in a thousand different ways.
Your story should be:
- Customer Centric. Let’s return to the world of dating. It will likely be a huge turn-off if you are out to dinner and your date talks non-stop about themselves. Establishing a connection requires the ability to see the other person. The same is true for your brand. If your website or social media is focused on how great you are but leaves out your ability to see your customer, they are far less likely to see themselves as a part of your brand.
- Elevate Your Expertise. Highlight how you can help and what qualifies you to do so. Your potential customers need to know they can trust you to feel safe enough to take the next step.
- Be Clear and Compelling. Don’t expect your customers to know what action you want them to take. Tell them. And if you want them to take a step toward you, they need to understand what they will lose if they don’t and what they will gain by saying “yes.”
2. Align Your Brand Experience
The consistency of your brand voice is an integral building block of brand trust. From first impressions to engagement with your team to use your products or services, your brand experience is always happening. Inconsistency can cause a curious potential customer to choose a competitor. So integrating your brand voice through every element of your customer journey is essential to create a big impact.
3. Write Your Rule Book
It’s hard to follow the rules if they don’t exist or are unclear. Your brand rules shouldn’t be long because you want them to be usable, but you need to document them. Start with the basics — define your mission, values, and visual brand. Get specific about your target audience and language rules to keep you on track. Finally, define your do’s and don’ts so there is no room for interpretation when utilizing your brand voice.
4. Review and Refresh
Yes, your brand’s voice is the unchanging personality of your brand, but that doesn’t mean you can set it and forget it! In the busyness of business, it can be easy to forget to take time to review your brand voice. So set aside a regular time once or twice a year to be sure your brand voice is clear and up-to-date.
If your company has experienced a change or integrated new products or services, consider how to incorporate those into your brand voice.
Your Voice Matters
At Content Journey, we help you have a strategy for consistent content that articulates your brand voice. If establishing your brand voice has left you feeling overwhelmed, contact us to help integrate your brand’s voice in a way that fuels the impact you’re after.