Finding Your Brand's Voice: A Guide That Goes Beyond the Visuals
Ever wonder why some brands just seem to click with you? Why Sephora's Instagram account feels like your brand BFF and you can't get those Old Spice commercials out of your head?
That's the brand voice at work–and believe it or not, it takes real effort and skill to hone in on your brand's unique voice and deploy it effectively. Yes, even Taco Bell's infamous "tacos" tweet followed brand voice guidelines (and got 17.2K likes!).
What Is A Brand Voice?
Think of your brand as a person. Now, imagine your brand walking into a room. What vibe does that person give off? What kind of conversations do they strike up? What are their strongest traits? That is your brand's voice. It’s the personality behind everything and a key part of your brand's identity.
You might ask, "Isn't my brand identity just my logo, fonts, and colors?" Well…yes and no.
Your brand identity is the whole package. It’s part visual elements like logos, fonts, colors, imagery, etc. and also your brand's unique voice, how it expresses its personality and engages with your audience.
So, if your brand were a person, what kind of person would it be? Is it a laid-back friend with memes for every occasion or a wise mentor dropping knowledge in your Instagram stories? Is it the adventurous hero making inspiring speeches or the witty sidekick bringing the comic relief? Understanding your brand's voice is like figuring out your brand's unique language – the secret code that resonates best with your audience and gets them to believe what you’re saying is authentically true.
Why Is Brand Voice Important?
Recognition and Consistency:
Your brand voice is like a song. It's a melody that you want playing in the minds of your audience, making your brand instantly recognizable in a sea of noise. Consistency is the key here – when your voice stays true across all platforms, it's like giving your audience a familiar feeling of hearing a song they love pop up on their playlist whenever they encounter your brand.
Trust-Building with Customers:
Trust is the currency of business. Your brand voice is the handshake, the eye contact, and the warm smile that says, "You can trust us!" When your audience can rely on a consistent voice, it builds trust, and trust is what turns a one-time interaction into a lifetime of loyalty.
Visuals Can Only Take You So Far:
Sure, a stunning logo and killer visuals grab attention, but what keeps it? A well-developed brand voice. It's the storytelling that weaves through your visuals, turning a momentary glance into a lasting connection. Think of it as the difference between a flashy movie trailer and a film with a captivating script – visuals hook, but the voice and the story keep them watching.
Standing Out in a Crowded Space:
Everyone out there is vying for attention (even our artificial intelligence pals). A unique brand voice and messaging is your neon sign in a busy landscape, making you stand out. It's not just about being different for the sake of it; it's about being authentically you and attracting the people that resonate with your vibe.
How to Develop Your Brand Voice
Alignment with Brand Identity & Strategy:
Your brand voice isn't an island; it's part of your brand identity, which is part of your even larger brand strategy. Before you can even begin cultivating a brand voice, you have to have a solid brand strategy in place. This means you've identified your company's core values and mission, done market research to identify competition and target customers, and understand your brand's positioning in the market.
Once you have a foundational strategy, you can move on to identity–things like logo, typography, colors, and imagery. Your voice should echo these elements, so when your audience hears it, they go, "Ah, this is totally them!"
Understanding Your Audience:
Your audience is your fan club, so your brand voice should be tailored to resonate with them. What language do they speak? What resonates with them emotionally? The better you understand your audience, the more effective your brand voice will be. This is another reason why spending time on strategy is crucial to the branding process. If your brand strategy is in place, your brand's visual identity and voice will come through more naturally and consistently.
Create a Comprehensive Brand Guide:
Every brand should have a Brand Guide. This isn't just a rulebook for how to use your logo (although it's that, too); it's a roadmap that shows you how to apply your brand's personality across many different mediums.
When you work with a creative branding agency like Quill, you'll get much more than just visual elements in your Brand Guide. If you work with us on branding or rebranding your organization, you'll get a Brand Guide that will set you up for success across every aspect of your brand. We like to think of our Brand Guides as detailed blueprints. You'll find comprehensive rules about how to use visual elements, messaging, typography, imagery, etc., as well as guidelines on how to use your brand voice across different channels and mediums. The branding experts at Quill will also always include real-world examples of how your branding might be used in different deliverables.
Tips for Using Your Brand Voice Effectively
Use It Everywhere:
Let your brand voice shine! From social media banter to formal emails, your voice should be a consistent thread weaving through every touchpoint. Just be sure to tailor it to the medium. For example, social media tends to be more like a playground for your brand's personality, allowing you to have a little more fun and get creative. But in, say an employee onboarding scenario, it should still be the same personality, just a bit more refined. Adapt your voice to the context while keeping the essence intact.
Clarity is King:
Yes, you want your brand voice to be distinctive, but don't let it get lost in a fog of complexity. Clarity through intentional articulation, above all else, ensures your message hits home. The goal is to be an expert communicator of your brand, not just an expert. Boil down your message without losing its effectiveness, and your brand voice will hit all the right notes. Remember, if your audience can't understand the message, the magic of your voice is lost.
Internal Consistency Matters Too:
Your employees are often your brand's first fans. Ensure they also feel the rhythm of your brand voice internally. Consistency isn't just for the external world; it's the heartbeat that keeps your brand alive within your organization. When your team feels the vibe, they'll naturally amplify your brand's voice.
Consistency, Consistency, Consistency:
Yes, we know we're repeating ourselves, but that's because it's crucial. Consistency isn't just a suggestion; it's the secret sauce that makes your brand memorable. It's good practice to audit your content each quarter, identify where your voice is hitting the sweet spot, and use those insights to fine-tune where more consistency may be needed.
How Quill Can Help
Now that you're all pumped up about unleashing the power of your brand voice, we can help! Our team of creative brand experts specializes in creating brand identities that resonate. We take the time to understand your brand's DNA, ensuring that every word aligns seamlessly with your mission and personality. When you partner with Quill, we'll help your brand voice come to life and evolve with you as you grow.
Interested in learning more? Let's chat!