Have you ever asked someone to describe your personality? Most likely, they will say you talk a certain way, maybe you are funny or command respect, or you are an expert in certain things. They will list qualities that make you different from any person standing next to you.
Your product is the same way. It has its own special place in this world, and what it offers to people is unique. Your brand voice should reflect what that is. Before you start working on any marketing communications, you should, first, find your brand voice.
Why It’s Important to Have a Brand Voice
The way you reach customers is through your marketing and advertising. The tone and attitude of everything you put out there reflects who you are as a brand and sets you apart from the competition. It can impart your values, connect you with a particular demographic, and demonstrate that you are a leader and innovator. If you don’t have a voice for your brand, you risk falling into the blah, blah, blah of a world that is oversaturated with media messages, and consumers will quickly tune you out.
How to Define Your Brand Voice
What’s Your Personality? – Think of your brand as a person. Who are they? Are they young, quirky, and hip? Maybe they are a professional, a leader, and a commander of respect. Take time to gather your team and have everyone sketch out what this person looks like. Ask: what are their interests, their values? What do they like to do, wear, read, watch on TV, and shop for? Start brainstorming, write down words that describe this personality, and build it out to a full demographic for them.
How Do You Say It? – Now that you have an idea of who your brand is, how do they speak? Do they use slang, a professional tone, are they relatable, aspirational, helpful, or provocative? Also think about your target audience. Do you want to be relatable, or aspirational, or maybe provoke them a little? Have everyone on your team try speaking in that voice about your brand to a target audience member and see if it’s a fit. Don’t forget to have some fun. This is your time to improvise and really get a feel for your brand – and it’s a good team builder!
What’s Your Motivation? – Just like actors need a motivation for a character to reflect who they are and their role in the plot of a movie, your brand personality needs a mission. Why are you there? What do you want to tell the world? Do you want to empower, support, or simply delight your customer with your product or service? This will help you set the tone for your voice. For example, a helpful mom will want to empower other moms with information on a fabulous new cleaning product, while a trendy teen may want to delight his pals with the tricks he can do on a new gadget.
Find Some Inspiration
If you’re not sure what your band voice is, just ask. Look at how your customers describe your product in reviews and comments on social media. What words are they using? What’s the tone? They may have found your voice for you! Also, try holding focus groups and asking people what they think your product’s personality would be. Sometimes, company employees are simply too close to a product to see it objectively anymore.
When working out your brand voice, avoid technical jargon and internal business speak. You may be so familiar with it that you don’t realize you are using it, but it will be lost on your customers. Distill anything complicated down to plain English. Think about how you would explain it to an alien from another planet who has never heard of this thing before. Remember the show Mork and Mindy? Mindy would always have to use very simple terms to tell Mork about our strange customs on Earth. Keep it very simple and your customers will stick with you.
Pass It On
Once you’ve decided on the personality of your product’s brand voice, it will be much easier to pass that information on throughout the company, and, most importantly, to your creative team, where your copywriters will be writing the words your brand speaks, and graphic designers, who will be creating visuals that reflect that voice. You want your voice to be consistent across all of the marketing materials you send out. You don’t want to sound professional on your website, then try to be a cool hipster on social media. Don’t let your brand have multiple personalities. It confuses the customers as to who you are and what your intent is. Create a brand style guide. This will help you document what the voice is and keep everyone on the same page. It’s also helpful to have for new hires so they can quickly ramp up.
Once you have your brand voice down, you might find it easier to strategize the rest of your marketing communications. You now have an exciting new persona to take you where you want to go!