Brand voice is the personality your customers encounter when they are consuming your content. And while you can begin creating a brand voice based on your own personality or choose any type of brand voice you want (friendly, inspiring, or professional), there are many best practices that help guide your choices.
Memorable content often starts with a unique perspective or a compelling story. In fact, Sprout Social’s annual index found that customer testimonials and posts highlighting the brand’s personality are some of the top content types consumer audiences prefer. Most consumers, in fact, prefer authentic representations of your brand over highly-produced content, contests and promotions, and even celebrity or influencer collaborations.
Your customers don’t speak to your products and services. They don’t have a conversation with your competitive differentiators – they connect with the human elements of your content, and that’s why brand voice is so important.
Let’s walk through the step-by-step process of creating a brand voice your customers will love.
Step 1: Start with Your Mission and Values
Your business is built on a set of unique principles and values, so your brand voice should be built on those things as well.
Your company mission will often give you a great place to start when it comes time to conceptualize your brand persona. For example, a nonprofit business that was created to help keep stray animals from being euthanized will have a strong and defined mission and brand voice that would (and should) be incompatible with the mission and brand voice of a top CPA’s office or a cabin rental business.
Your company’s mission and values create the foundation for your business’s products and services, and your brand voice tells people about it.
Step 2: Research Your Target Audience
Your brand voice is what connects your business to your audience. And because of that, you’ll need to do some in-depth research about your target audience. A buyer persona can really help with this step in the “creating a brand voice” process.
What does your buyer persona look like? Is it a mom in her 30s-40s who is looking for quick solutions to everyday problems and loves watching cute pet videos online? Is it a retired banker who enjoys traveling the world and settling in for the evening with a nice cigar and a biography?
This may seem silly, but the way your brand content will “speak” to each of these personas is very different. They also will likely consume their content in different forms of media: the mom will enjoy more relatable Instagram or Twitter posts, whereas the banker may prefer long-form written content like NYT articles.
Your market research and sales history can give you a clue into the buyer persona that fits your brand best. Once you have created your buyer persona, you can start researching the top content types these demographics prefer to consume.
Because so many people enjoy giving their feedback, you can also ask your audiences. Take a poll and ask things like “How would you describe our brand?” or “What kind of person does our company sound like?” You will be surprised how many people are willing to throw in their two cents, and the answers they share may help you refine your brand voice and address inconsistencies.
Step 3: Review Your Top-Performing Content
Speaking of content: what do your top performers look like? Do you get a lot of traction on a specific social media platform, or are your blog article pages the ones your prospects like to spend time on?
When creating a brand voice, reviewing your top-performing content is a great way to get to know your audience through their habits and feedback. Here are some things to think about as you review your best content:
- Is your content: informational, opinion-based, entertaining? If your top post on social media is a long and well-researched industry piece, a more professional and educational style brand voice may be perfect for your brand. But if your best engagement comes from your short videos commenting on pop culture trends, your brand voice will be more effective if it’s casual and humorous.
- Is there a specific type of content that is viewed more consistently (organic social media posts, print collateral, video, website landing pages, paid Instagram ads, blog posts, etc.)?
Step 4: Choose 3-5 Core Characteristics to Describe Your Brand Voice (& Include Examples)
What characteristics describe your brand? When creating a brand voice, you should be able to distill the core components of that voice into a few (typically 3-5) words or phrases that capture the essence of your brand.
For example, if I tell you to think of a brand that is humorous, passionate, and whimsical, could you do it? And if you can’t, can you at least imagine what their logo, colors, or website photos and graphics might look like? What about if I said to think of a brand that is sophisticated, informative, and traditional?
Three core characteristics are a great succinct way to keep your content and graphics on track with your brand goals and voice.
Step 5: Create a Brand Voice Style Guide
Now that you’ve chosen your core characteristics, you need to tell your staff and marketing partners about them. The place to do that is in your brand voice style guide.
The brand voice style guide is the go-to resource for your brand voice best practices. You can include a list of examples, dos and don’ts, and other helpful instructions. Sharing this as a resource with your staff and any other marketing collaborators can help align all your messaging.
The goal of this style guide is to create a frame of reference from which everyone can work and create content that seamlessly fits into your brand persona, whether it’s a short video introducing your team or a website landing page describing your products and services.
Optional: Ask a Third Party for Help
Creating a brand voice is a simple phrase for a very multifaceted process. And sometimes when you’re in the weeds and trying to work out every detail, it can be hard to focus on the bigger picture.
When you get stuck, in work and in life, it often helps to have an outside perspective. Using a third party, especially one with experience in marketing, can help you define your brand voice and create an authentic persona that captures your audience’s attention and creates lasting customer relationships.
Struggling with Brand Voice? SharedTEAMS Can Help
Because we are your on-demand marketing department, SharedTEAMS can help with your brand voice struggles and all your marketing content needs.
When you partner with us on a Brand Positioning and Messaging project, we can help you revamp your brand’s current voice and messaging or create the perfect brand voice from scratch. Collaborate with us as much or as little as your schedule allows, assign and approve projects based on your business goals and timelines, and rely on SharedTEAMS to be a true and collaborative extension of your current marketing department or program.
Questions about our membership options? Here’s how it works.