Reflect on those brands that have made an impression on you with their unique voices. It could be a surfing equipment retailer exuding a carefree surfer vibe, or a youth-oriented fashion label using colloquial language to engage its audience. You might be thinking of a confectionery manufacturer that charms consumers of all age groups with its witty humour.
When it comes to branding, most people tend to focus on the things that they can see and touch. Things like typography, colour schemes, and design styles. However, when it comes to finding your brand voice and standing out in your market – it’s so much more than a logo or colour scheme for your website. It cuts into the core of the business identity, what it stands for, and the branding and development strategy that should be set out in conjunction with professionals who can provide guidance.
In this feature, we will delve into how your brand’s voice and tone can strengthen its identity, provide guidance on shaping your voice, and showcase three prime examples of effective brand voices to inspire you.
So, what exactly is a brand voice?
Essentially, a brand voice is a unique personality developed by a business to communicate with its intended audience across various platforms. It is a harmonious approach towards style, tone, and messaging aimed at fostering brand recognition and building a rapport with the audience.
Imagine attending a social gathering where you’re conversing with multiple guests. There’s one person who captivates your attention with their extraordinary storytelling skills — their choice of words, language, and charisma all contributing to a memorable encounter.
In a similar way, your brand’s voice can be that fascinating individual. Contemplate the persona your brand presents online. If your brand were a person, what characteristics would they display and avoid? What terminologies and stylistic options would your brand prefer?
All these aspects contribute to your brand’s voice, but there are numerous facets involved in crafting one. Take, for example, Sprout Social’s brand manual, Seeds, which demarcates various principles and categories to illustrate our brand personality and messaging.
Ensure your brand voice is present across all platforms where your brand communicates, such as ads, newsletters, social media posts, customer service responses, and internal communications like company updates.
Why is a brand voice crucial?
Having a consistent and distinguishable brand voice is vital. With the digital environment being densely populated, your written content and video scripts require the same level of focus and consistency as the rest of your brand elements.
Your visual content, logo, or product features alone can only help you stand out to a certain extent. The 2022 Sprout Social Index™ suggests that 34% of consumers prefer posts that highlight the brand’s personality. A well-defined voice plays a critical role in amplifying your brand’s presence in the social media sphere.
All forms of popular content, be it testimonials or video, are driven by the brand voice.
According to the latest data from 2023, some of the most sought-after content types include corporate training videos, posts emphasizing their product or service, customer testimonials or real customer demonstrations, and posts underlining the brand’s personality.
In today’s world, where social media is increasingly swamped with AI-generated content, a strong brand voice carries more weight than ever.
Though AI can facilitate numerous marketing initiatives, it lacks a personal touch. With the surge in AI-created content, it’s up to human marketers to infuse the brand’s distinctive voice to stand out from the crowd. Marketers, who are intimately familiar with their brand voice, should spearhead the efforts to fine-tune the organization’s voice. Successful brand awareness is when a brand can be recognized by its content even before identifying who posted it.
5 strategies to shape your brand voice
Having understood the significance of giving your brand a unique personality, here are five strategies to hone your brand voice:
Define your audience and personas
Your brand voice should be in sync with the company’s values and objectives, but it’s also important to consider who you’re communicating with and why.
Begin by formulating your brand voice with a focus on your target audience and marketing personas. As you dive deeper into understanding your audience and personas, identify personality traits, adjectives, and commonly used language that you wish to adopt as a brand.
Take, for instance, a brand based in Los Angeles targeting a young Californian demographic. They might use regional terms like “SoCal” or “NoCal” that resonate with their target audience.
However, it’s crucial to validate your assumptions by researching your target audience to ensure you’re genuinely speaking their language. Use tools like Sprout Social Listening to monitor conversations about your brand. Investigate customer sentiments and viewpoints on particular products, topics, and competitors to enhance your messaging and positioning.
Listening dashboard featuring incoming messages.
Given the intangible nature of brand personality, Sprout’s brand voice uses archetypes and personas to personify the brand and breathe life into it. Our brand archetype is the Visionary (also known as the Creator or Builder), characterized by our goal, marketing niche, and traits. For instance, the Visionary’s aim is to displace obsolete systems and notions to foster innovation and progress. Some of its traits are creativity, vibrancy, forward-thinking, imagination, and curiosity.
Our brand persona, the Luminary, is derived from our brand archetype. The development of content and writing with a brand persona dictates our decisions regarding voice, tone, and language. The Luminary, with traits like intelligence, confidence, and innovation, has a bold, inspiring, and genuine sound, leading us to our next stage: auditing your existing voice.
Evaluate your existing tone and voice
Assess your current brand voice by examining examples from all your communication channels. This will provide you a holistic view of your current voice.
Watch out for inconsistencies, like changes in voice across different authors and selection of words. Notice how your target audience engages with you and their choice of language.
Identify your best-performing content and jot down the voice/tone used. What made the post or video strike a chord with the audience? Was it the humorous tone, inclusion of trends, or internet folklore relevant to your audience? Did it deliver valuable information in an easy-to-digest format? What common traits do your top content share in terms of voice and tone?
With Sprout, you can easily spot your top and bottom-performing content by viewing the Post Performance report.
Our listening tool uncovers current topics your audience discusses online. It offers insights into the language and terminologies your audience uses, helping you optimize your voice and copy to resonate better with them.
Remember: Refine your voice instead of diverging too far from your brand’s current practices. Aim for authenticity and avoid sounding mechanical or as if you’re simply chasing trends and hot topics.
Once you complete your audit, you’ll get a clear picture of your brand’s current personality, initiating the process of brainstorming additional traits you wish to mimic.
Customize your tone for different content and channels
While your brand voice dictates what you say, your brand tone determines how you say it. Your tone will fluctuate based on the type of content and platform, requiring adjustments accordingly.
For example, an organic social post warrants a different tone than addressing a customer complaint or query. A playful tone is suitable for organic posts, whereas a professional and empathetic tone is apt for customer care responses. In the noisy digital landscape of 2023, brand voice is no longer just an advantage—it’s a necessity. Just as a surfer-spirited retailer or a teen brand that knows its slang stand out from the crowd, a well-defined brand voice makes you memorable to your audience. It’s akin to being that one engaging conversationalist at a dinner party who captivates everyone with their storytelling skills. This article will guide you on establishing your own unique brand voice, complete with practical tips, brand voice analyses, and a look at why it matters now more than ever.
A brand voice isn’t simply words on a page—it’s a carefully crafted personality that the business uses to connect with its target audience across various platforms. It’s not just about the tone or style, but also the messaging that nurtures a meaningful relationship with the audience. So, if your brand were a person, what character traits would they exhibit? What language would they use, and what would they definitely not say? These answers help shape your brand voice.
Indeed, creating a brand voice isn’t a one-time exercise. It requires a thoughtful approach guided by pillars like the ones Sprout Social’s brand guide, Seeds, provides. This personality should shine through all your communications, from adverts and newsletters to social media posts and customer care interactions.
Why is brand voice pivotal?
Because in the crowded world of digital media, consistency and recognition are key. Visual elements alone won’t do the trick. The 2022 Sprout Social Index™ reveals that 34% of consumers are interested in posts that highlight a brand’s personality. Moreover, the increasing saturation of AI-generated content on social media platforms makes the human touch of a unique brand voice even more significant.
Consequently, crafting a potent brand voice can turn your brand’s whisper into a mighty roar in the social media space. All kinds of content—ranging from testimonials to video—are driven by the brand voice. A robust brand voice enables consumers to recognize a brand just by the content, without seeing the brand’s name.
But how do you develop your unique brand voice?
Start by understanding your audience and personas. Your voice should resonate with your target audience, reflect your company’s values and goals, and use language that resonates with them. For instance, a brand based in Los Angeles targeting a young Californian audience might use regional slang like “SoCal” or “NoCal”. However, it’s crucial to verify your assumptions with research and tools like Sprout Social Listening.
Next, examine your current tone and voice. Review content across all your channels, note the inconsistencies, and identify what makes your top-performing content stand out. Use this information to tweak your voice so it’s authentic, and not just mimicking trends.
A brand’s tone may differ based on the channel or type of content. For instance, an organic social post might have a different tone than a response to a customer complaint. Hence, categorize the different scenarios and tailor your tone accordingly.
Keeping all this information documented ensures consistency, so create a comprehensive brand style guide. This guide should include do’s and don’ts, brand phrases, common vocabulary, and lots of examples. This will serve as a helpful reference for everyone involved in content creation for your brand.
Finally, remember that a brand voice isn’t static. Language evolves, trends come and go, so your brand voice needs regular reviews and adjustments. Tools like Sprout’s reporting and analytics can help monitor how your brand voice is performing over time, allowing you to make necessary tweaks and stay in tune with your audience.
So there you have it. A simple, actionable guide for finding your brand voice, standing out in your marketplace and setting your business apart from competitors in 2023.