So you have the design aesthetic down. Your brand's got a consistent look and feel that people instantly recognize as you. But, when it comes to choosing the right words for your website, emails, and marketing, you're a little, well, stuck! Sound like you? Then this post is for you.
What is brand voice anyway?
Let's start with a few definitions. Voice refers to the full range of emotional, characteristic aspects of how your brand sounds. In the same way that you could recognize your sister's voice whether she’s talking about something exciting or sad, a brand voice is distinct, yet broad enough to adapt to a range of different situations. Tone, on the other hand, refers to the specific attributes of the brand voice expressed in a particular situation. Some pieces of communication may flex one aspect of your voice a little more prominently than others. For example, a product description may be a little tighter and clearer, while your monthly newsletter is a little more friendly-forward. Whatever the case may be, your tone should feel coherent and within the overall brand voice.
With that in mind, you're ready to start nailing down your brand voice.
Step 1: Find a favorite.
First, look internally. Is there a piece of communication you're particularly proud of? Maybe an email you sent to an investor that really felt like you? A video script that nailed the vibe you embody? Your favorite can be anything—from a product description to an Instagram caption or email.
Step 2: Compare & contrast.
Next, find a competitor in your space. Pull up their website and social media pages. What about their brand sounds like you? What about them is totally different. Jot down the characteristics you want to emulate and those you want to avoid. This exercise will help provide some "guardrails" for your voice definition.
Step 3: Choose a spokesperson.
Here's where you get to put your creative hat on. Think of a handful of people—say two to three—that you think would represent your brand well. These people can be living or dead, fiction or real—anyone who's voice you can call to mind easily. How would you describe the way they speak? If you could combine different aspects of a few people into one, what would that person sound like? For example a Elsa-Jessica Day or Oprah-Hillary Clinton-Leslie Knope.
At the end of this exercise, you should have a list of adjectives that describe your brand and some that do not. Choose the 5 best adjectives and their opposites. Voila! You have a brand voice guideline. This guide serves as a gut-check for anything you write on behalf of your brand. Before publishing your writing, check to ensure that at least two of the rows are reflected in your tone and that none of the descriptors are contradicted in the voice.
Want to chat brand voice and tone? Noteworthy Brand Studio can help. Contact us to set up a discovery call. firstname.lastname@example.org