how to find your brand voice
Branding

How to find your brand voice

Your brand voice is how you’re going to convey your brand personality online.

It helps to shape the way your customers feel and what they remember about your company.

As things continue to shift and grow in different directions, it’s becoming clear that online marketing channels have gone from nice to have to need to have.

In terms of branding, this means that developing strategies to support this change needs to be top priority.

If you’ve dipped your toes in marketing online, then you may have already found your footings in building your brand voice. If not, it’s time to get going.

The most enduring brands have a strong and memorable personality paired with a clear sense of purpose.

Their message is consistent everywhere they have a distinct presence. As you set out to strengthen your brand voice, you need to remember that it should be uniform and unchanging.

Sounds, er, good? What do I need to do?

You probably already know this, but you need to set up a website and fill in the basics for your brand’s social media accounts. Once all of that is ready, then it’s time to start using social to connect with new people, nurture existing clients, and convey value to your audience.

Unless you’re an e-commerce site, it’s not likely that you’ll be making sales.

If I’m not making sales, then what’s the point?!

You want your brand to be visible so that when people need a business like yours, you’ll already be top of mind.

Right now, we don’t have the opportunity to connect in person. We still gotta hustle if we want to grow. When you set out to create strategies to market your business, you need to connect with your customers in a way that ads value.

“Marketing is the art of creating genuine customer value. It is the art of helping your customer become better off. The marketer’s watchwords are quality, service, and value.”

Phil Kotler, Professor at the Kellogg School of Management

How brand voice will help you make sales

If you’ve already made a few posts, then your brand voice has begun taking shape. To give it more power, you need to define the words you want to use (or avoid), the topics you want to cover, how you want to make people feel, and how you want people to remember you.

I’m sure every single person on the planet can think of a brand on social media who they will remember forever. Here are some examples:

While all these brands are selling different products to very different groups, they’ve connected with audiences by using their distinct voice. They jump into people’s lives in an unexpected way with humour and creativity.

This connection is what will help you make sales.

I don’t have a budget like Apple or McDonald’s–Is this still something I can do on my own?

Absolutely. I’ll show you how.

Four exercises to find your brand voice

Exercise 1) Brain teaser

Here’s a brain teaser to help you wrap your head around how to build your brand voice: If your brand was a person, what would their relationship be with the brand’s customers?

For example:

  • Is the brand someone people can rely on?
  • If the brand were the person answering the phone, how would they greet people?
  • If the brand was in trouble, who would they call for help?
  • Is the brand someone that makes people feel inspired?
  • If your brand was a proud mom, how would they show the world?
  • Is the brand someone who people think of as creative?

I know it’s a bit cheesy to try and personify an inanimate object. Trust your gut and do your best to give it life.

Exercise 2) Your brand in one line

Here’s another: Write out one or two lines that will give a glimpse into who your brand is. Let’s walk through an example from a personal brand statement.

What comes to mind when you read the following:

I’m a caffeine-fueled solopreneur on a mission to change fast-food.

In real life, this person probably isn’t chugging coffee and sitting by themselves typing madly. However, based on the words they chose to use, we’ve started to create a picture of who they might be.

They want us to know that they’re high energy, they work alone, and they’re not afraid to tackle big goals.

Here are the results we got when we gave this exercise a try:

“250Marketing provides the guidance and support you need to build a marketing plan that works. By using proven methodology, we can show you how to deliver a message with impact and make a plan that will scale.”

Exercise 3) Who your brand isn’t

Write out ten adjectives that the brand is not. Depending on your mad-libs skills, this could take anywhere from two minutes to half an hour.

Here’s what we came up with:

  • Sarcastic
  • Unapproachable
  • Tryhards
  • Unexperienced
  • Impatient
  • Revolutionary
  • Boring
  • Pioneering
  • Epic
  • Polarizing

Pro Tips 🤔

Tip 1: You want to avoid clichés whenever possible. Same for buzzwords. They’re overused and won’t help you stand out from your competitors. These can be added to the list of words you want to avoid.

Tip 2: It’s okay if you can’t think of ten adjectives. Jot a couple down and move on to the next part if needed. You’ll be fine.

Exercise 4) Yes or no?

Answer the ten yes or no questions about your brand as quickly as you can. Got the timer set? Okay, go:

  1. Do you swear?
  2. Are you witty?
  3. Do you use jargon?
  4. Do you share stories?
  5. Do you use analogies?
  6. Do you have clearly defined values?
  7. Are you funny?
  8. Are you direct?
  9. Are you bold with your language?
  10. Do you know which brand personality you are?

Here are the results from 250Marketing:

  1. Do you swear? No.
  2. Are you witty? We try.
  3. Do you use jargon? Not if we can help it.
  4. Do you share stories? Yes, it’s a big part of marketing.
  5. Do you use analogies? For sure, it helps people connect the dots.
  6. Do you have clearly defined values? 💯
  7. Are you funny? It depends on who you ask…
  8. Are you direct? Yes, we pride ourselves on it.
  9. Are you bold with your language? You have to be.
  10. Do you know which brand personality you are? Yup, 250Marketing’s brand shows competence through thought leadershipexperience, and our core beliefs.

Pro tips 🤔

Tip 1: Try to tell a story instead of just answering yes/no.

Tip 2: See if you can slip some brand values in there…you know you wanna.

How to define your brand voice in 3 steps

1) Step one

Defining your brand voice starts with who your audience is and who you are as a company.

Spend 30 mins checking the social profiles of real customers and find out what brands they follow. Think about the terms they’re using and how you can use this to build rapport.

If you don’t have customers yet, check out profiles of people who you think would be ideal customers to have.

2) Step two

Next, pick 30-50 adjectives that you want to use when defining your brand. For me, that’s way too many to think of on my own, so you can cheat and work from this list (there are other goodies there too).

Write down the top three that resonate with you the most.

3) Step three

Define your core values. Here’s an example of a company who’s got it down.

Recap:

  1. Research your audience
  2. Find adjectives that align with your brand
  3. Define your core values

If you’ve worked through the first 4 exercises above, done a bit of soul-searching for brand adjectives, and spent time researching what jives with your customer base, then you should have a rough vision of what you’re going for.

Next, it’s time to give your brand voice shape by defining how you want to sound.

Define how you want your brand to sound

The message you want to deliver will have a different tone for different circumstances, but the voice you use should stay steady and distinct.

When defining your brand voice, ask yourself these four questions:

  • As a brand, are you funny or serious?
  • Do you want people to think of your brand as enthusiastic or more matter-of-fact?
  • Is your brand respectful/reserved or maybe a bit cheeky? 🙊
  • Do you write in a way that’s formal or casual?

Top performing brands tend to err on the side of being both casual and enthusiastic. Realistically, we know that not everyone is funny.

While it’s risky to be cheeky, this has paid off in surprising ways for large companies (judging by Wendy’s twitter account).

There’s no wrong choice here, but you need to pick a direction to steer the ship. Use these answers as your compass.

Who are brands that you admire?

If there’s a brand (or celebrity) that you admire, what is it about them that you like? Again, this question will help you to personify what you’re trying to achieve.

You might not have the marketing budget to be them, but you can still pay attention to what’s working for them and try to replicate it in a way that works for you.

Who needs to understand your brand voice?

If you’re a one-man operation then it’s okay if all of this information lives in a scribbled notebook.

But, if you’re building a team or are looking to hire creatives to help grow your business, then you need a way to share this info. Type it out and start building guidelines.

You’ll thank yourself later.

Summary

By keeping consistent branding throughout all of your marketing, your audience will get a better sense of who you are and will be more likely to remember how you can help them. Your brand voice is what will help you achieve this.

Remember, tou’re building something bigger than you might realize. 😉

Hi, I'm Christine. I'm a public speaker & marketing professional with a specialization in digital strategy. I live and breathe all things content & marketing. In my previous positions, I've done everything from rebranding companies, launching new SaaS products, writing sales copy, and developing long-term SEO & social strategies. I believe that quality communication and measurable results are the key to every digital marketing strategy.

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