We often think of a brand logo, color scheme, and typography when we think of branding. And the brand voice often gets overlooked. The brand voice is an essential part of branding since it is how you communicate with your target audience. Effective branding knows who their ideal customer is and can speak their language.
59% of shoppers say they want to buy from brands they trust. (Designzillas) Making your brand’s voice distinctive and memorable will create a lasting impression on your customers (and potential customers) – so they can like, know, and trust your brand.
Let’s first begin by identifying what the brand voice is:
Your brand’s tone of voice is how you can communicate your brand with your target audience and how it influences customers to perceive your company and its brand messaging. Essentially it is how we share with our customers rather than what.
Places where you would use the tone of voice would be – social media, email campaigns, your website, email communication, etc. It is essential to ensure that your tone of voice stays consistent throughout all platforms. Sure, it may vary a little from time to time, but overall, your brand messaging should stay the same when delivering content.
While the two terms have similarities, they are also very different.
Brand Tone of Voice: How your brand communicates with your customers, including the words you use, the communication style, and your emotional tone.
Brand Voice: Is your brand’s overall personality. It showcases your brand’s unique perspective and the values that you stand for.
For example, let’s think of your brand as a person. We each have a unique personality and perspective on life. We will remain the same throughout our day-to-day. However, situations and the people we interact with will be different.
For instance, the tone of voice to talk with your romantic partner will differ slightly from how you speak with a client. The same will go for your brand voice. Your brand voice will need to be adjusted to suit specific situations or pieces of content, but overall the voice (personality) will stay the same.
Having a brand voice and tone can guide your target audience toward understanding your brand’s unique qualities and culture. It can also encourage ongoing conversations with customers by building relationships and connections. 65% of customers said they feel an emotional connection to a brand where they care about them (Customer Thermometer).
It also builds trust with your customers; 46% of customers said they would pay more for brands they trusted (Oberlo). By understanding your customer, you will see what is important to them. For instance, are they against fast fashion and would rather spend more money on quality products that are ethically made? Or have they had bad experiences with trendy skincare products in the past and know they only buy clean and effective products for their skin?
Building trust is knowing who your customer is and articulating that you have the solutions to their problem. We all want to be seen and heard, and your customers are no exception.
To find your business’s tone of voice, you will need an in-depth knowledge of your brand culture and values and a thorough understanding of your customers and competitive landscape.
To find your tone of voice, you will need to:
▪ Understand your ideal customer
▪ Understand which language your customers will respond best to – what tone of voice will they engage most with?
▪ Understand who your brand is and how it will connect with your ideal customer
Next, I’ll go step-by-step to show you how to identify your brand’s tone of voice:
Is your customer laid back or professional? Are they artistic or analytic? By understanding who they are on a deeper level, you will be able to communicate with them effectively.
When thinking about your target audience, it’s essential to think about what generation they are. For example, is your target audience GenZ, Millenials, or Baby Boomers? Based on their age group will determine the best way to communicate with them.
Once you’ve gathered the demographics and psychographics of your ideal customer, you’ll be able to create a customer persona. Your audience will include loyal customers as well as potential customers.
Find Their Communication Channels
When your customer persona is complete, now you’ll want to find out what channels they are using for communication. For instance, millennials value social media platforms (Twitter, Instagram, Tik Tok, etc.) and email. In contrast, Gen Z loves quality and brand experiences. Gen Z tends to gravitate towards mobile apps over social media platforms and email communication.
By looking at the social media profiles of your existing customers, you will determine what resources and brands they follow. You will want to identify the resources and social media platforms with the most authority, and that align with the topics related to your industry.
Each social media platform will be different, so it is essential to tailor your marketing content to that platform’s audience’s needs to get the best results.
See How They Are Communicating With One Another
Once you’ve determined the best social media platforms, it is time to research them to see how your target audience talks and interacts with their peers. What do they like and not like? What language do people use that generates the most content?
Mirroring the communication patterns, body language, and tone will allow your target audience to feel a sense of belonging. Doing this allows your target audience to think of your brand as an old friend, someone they feel comfortable and safe around.
Ask For Their Input
There is no better way to get information than from the source (aka: your target audience). If you can do market research, it can do wonders for your business!
Here are some questions you could ask your customers:
▪ How would you describe our brand?
▪ If our brand were a person… How would they act? What would they look like? And what would they sound like?
▪ What pieces of content best represent us? (i.e., email, tweet, post, etc.)
First, it is essential to determine your core purpose of communication, your brand’s why. Identifying your core values will help you find the language to communicate your message the most effectively. It will also allow you to create a community around your brand of like-minded individuals. And will ensure that you will be able to resonate with your customers (and potential customers.)
Identify Your Core Values
66% of consumers say transparency is one of the most attractive qualities in a brand (Oberlo). Being transparent and authentic is how you can build trust within a brand. But first, to build trust, you will want to define your core values to understand what your brand stands for.
Here are a few questions you can ask yourself to understand your core values:
▪ Why did I start my business?
▪ What makes my business different?
▪ How do I want my audience to feel when interacting with my brand?
▪ What values do I like to share with your audience?
▪ What are my brand’s 1, 3, and 5-year goals?
▪ What does my brand stand for?
Be honest when answering these questions and know that there is no correct answer. Your brand’s core values will be part of the foundation for determining your brand’s tone of voice.
Write a Mission Statement
Your mission statement will show your customers who you are, what and who you care about, and how your business can help. The mission statement should align with your customers as well as your organization.
Audits are a powerful tool to see what is currently working and not working. Often you don’t have to start from square one.
Here are a few questions to ask yourself:
▪ Does it fit the brand values I want to communicate?
▪ Does my mission statement align with my current tone of voice?
▪ Does my marketing content align with my tone of voice?
Next, audit each piece and determine what your brand sounds like. I like to use the Four Dimensions of Tone of Voice; click here to view the article. Once you’ve written down what you think it sounds like, cross-reference to the survey of answers your customers described your brand.
Do they align? If not, where are the gaps?
A tone of voice should include what you sound like and what you want to sound like.
With the research that you have gathered this far, you will be able to use it to strategically craft your brand’s perfect tone of voice.
Determine Your Voice Dimension
The Four Dimensions of Tone of Voice are:
▪ Formal vs. Casual
▪ Respectful vs. Irreverent
▪ Funny vs. Serious
▪ Enthusiastic vs. Matter of Fact
The Nielsson Norman Group and Maestro do a fantastic job explaining each of the voice dimensions in great detail; they even include examples. It’s no surprise that casual, conversational, and moderately enthusiastic do the best!
List Your Tone Characteristics
Once you’ve determined the dimension, next, you can choose the specific tone characteristics. Such as formal, funny, or quirky. Norman Nielsen Group put together a list of 37 tone of voice words that you can use.
Create a Chart
A chart will allow you and your team to view information regarding your brand’s tone of voice. The chart can include the: voice characteristic, description, and do’s/don’ts.
Now it’s time to use your new brand’s tone of voice!
Just like with anything, consistency is key. Here are a few guidelines your tone of voice should include:
▪ You’re speaking to your target audience – use their tone of voice
▪ Your brands core values
▪ Your brand messaging, how do you want to sound? (like a best friend, mentor, teacher, mother, etc.)
▪ Your mission statement
▪ List of vocabulary or jargon you’d like to use
▪ Your brand’s tone-of-voice chart
▪ List what tone of voice you want to have on each social media platform since they are each unique
A large part of having your own business is pivoting to see what works and what does not. Following these five steps should give you a solid foundation to speak to your target audience with ease! You may find that some parts of your tone of voice need to be adjusted, which is ok.
By establishing clear guidelines and defining your brand’s tone of voice, you can develop genuine relationships with your customers and target audience. And it all starts with a clear idea of who your target audience is, where they hang out online, and what kind of content they want to consume. From there, you can determine the correct language for an effective tone of voice.
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