How to Create a Unique Brand Voice in 5 Simple Steps14 min read
What makes a person memorable?
Sometimes, it’s how they look. But most of the time, it’s what they say. Same goes for brands.
Your brand’s personality is shown by everything you “say” online. On your site, social media posts, and through your mission statement. You can have the slickest graphics and branding, but if you don’t have the chat to match – kiss success goodbye.
Here’s how you start by creating a unique brand voice to engage your target audience:
What is brand voice and why is it important?
Your brand voice is what you use to communicate with potential customers. It helps to identify you, no matter what platform you’re on. Basically, it’s representing your business through words.
This is why it’s got to reflect your brand values. Whether that’s through content marketing or customer support. Your brand messaging always has to be consistent. Because consistent branding (across all channels) can increase revenue by 23%.
With the serious amount of competition these days, standing out isn’t just ideal. It’s essential. And your logo and visuals can only take you so far.
It’s why you need to show you’re a quirky, witty, or confident brand through your written content too.
How does brand tone of voice differ?
Your brand tone of voice is how you say what you’re saying. It’s the emotion behind the words. And it’s what’s really going to influence how your customers feel about you.
Take these 3 examples of the same request:
- “Our video could really help you out if you’ve got a spare sec to watch it.”
- “Could you pleaaase watch our video?”
- “Watch our video right now!!!”
Each wants the same outcome, but the response to each will be different. So, you see how it all plays a part in building a unique personality for your brand.
Here are 5 steps to create or hone your own.
1. Research your target audience and create customer templates
Your customers’ core values have to match your brand’s. And 86% of consumers agree that one of the most important factors for brand loyalty is authenticity.
Any successful marketing strategy starts with research. If you’re going to connect with your audience, you have to be on the same wavelength. Creating fictional customer personas (based on real data) is a popular way to get to know your audience.
Here’s a couple of customer personas Skype created:
Once you’ve identified the different demographics in your audience, you can find a common theme that links them. Then you’ll build your own brand voice that can speak to all of them.
They all have a problem, and you need to show you’re able to fix it.
Speak how your audience speaks
If you’re a pre-launch startup, there are still ways to build your brand voice with customer research (Forbes has a handy piece on this!) Find your audience on social media platforms. See how they speak to each other. Examine how your current customers speak to you if you’re already established.
Source: Marketing Examples
No matter what industry you’re in, though, drop the jargon. Your customer knows you know your stuff. It’s why they’re on your site. Don’t confuse them with complex words before they’ve decided to give you a shot. Keep cool.
Another thing. No matter how brainy you are, we all love short sentences and simple language. We’re hit with so much content every day. It’s nice when it’s easy to digest.
Informality always works too. Imagine you’re talking directly to your customer over a coffee. These simple tips will help you stand out from most content creators.
2. Complete some brand voice exercises
Once you know your audience, you can start nailing down how you’ll speak to them. There has to be some kind of emotional connection if you want loyal customers.
These 4 exercises can help link your company values to your voice:
- “We’re not this, we’re that”
- Personify your company
- Pick a celeb
- Read it out
“We’re not this. We’re that”
This one’s easy. Fill in the blanks for the sentence: “We’re not ___. We’re ___.”
- “We’re not rude. We’re funny.”
- “We’re not serious. We’re lighthearted.”
- “We’re not preachy. We’re irreverent.”
Repeat as many times as you can until you have a basis for different tones.
You can also ask your team for adjectives that describe your brand and culture. If there’s any crossover, that’s a great place to start building a brand voice chart.
Personify your company
Think of your brand as a person that’s going to be speaking directly to your consumers. What do they look like? How would you describe them? Are they old and serious? Young and funny?
Choose wisely because you’ll be presenting this personality to the world.
Pick a celeb
It can sometimes be helpful to choose a celebrity to be your fictional spokesperson. Who would best represent your company? Maybe it’s a lighthearted comedian. Or a passionate activist.
Think about why you chose that person. How would they speak about your brand?
Read it out
Read some written content out loud with your current voice. Then try to write the same paragraph in different ways. Read those out loud. Do they sound awkward? Does it sound genuine? Physically speaking will highlight what’s working and what isn’t.
3. Be inspired by strong brand voice examples
When you think of companies with a strong brand voice, you might think of the confident, to-the-point tone of Apple and Mailchimp. Or maybe the sassy remarks from fast-food chain Wendy’s.
When building your own brand voice, it’ll really help to research companies that are doing it well. Compare their brand story to their chosen tone and personality traits.
Here are 3 examples of successful brand voices we love:
- Cards Against Humanity
- Who Gives A Crap
Cards Against Humanity
If you’ve ever played Cards Against Humanity, you won’t have forgotten. It’s a fill-in-the-blank party game with offensive, risqué, and politically-incorrect answers. And as you can imagine, their brand voice represents that.
Their brand strategy is to be blunt and sarcastic and basically prepare you for the game.
Testimonials are usually a brand’s chance to have other people shout about how good they are. But even those Cards Against Humanity choose are usually self-deprecating too.
Even their FAQ section is cheeky. Titled “Your dumb questions” instead:
It’s a bold move from the branding team. But it’s a bold game. If you can’t hack the tone, the game won’t be for you.
On the other side of the brand voice universe is Starface. They sell space-themed pimple patches to help get rid of acne faster.
Every piece of content is upbeat and quirky. With abbreviations dotted in to keep things really informal. It’s aimed at a younger demographic (those most likely to get pimples) and feels like texts you’d send a friend.
It’s flipping the old script of being embarrassed about acne. Everything is super positive and breezy. Rather than ask your age in their “Big Lil Quiz”, they make it fun by asking for a song that was popular when you were in 7th grade.
They know their target audience and how to speak to them. Starface’s brand voice is out of this world!
Who Gives A Crap
There aren’t many startups named after poop. But when you’re a toilet paper brand, it makes sense. Who Gives A Crap began when the founders learned that over 2 billion people don’t have access to a toilet.
They use 50% of their profits to build toilets and improve sanitation for those who need it. Their goal is to make a difference in the world, but they’re not preachy. They have a cheeky (pun intended) sense of humor that’s always lighthearted.
They’re trying to create a global movement of mindful consumers. Not many small businesses can say the same. Or do it in such a fun way.
4. Practice with the content you create and curate
A skill only becomes one when you practice enough. So, your brand voice will become more honed the more you use it. This means putting out a ton of content on different platforms.
Content marketing is the basis of a successful brand strategy. So make sure you practice with all different kinds of written content. Try using your brand voice to write:
- Articles on LinkedIn
- Your “About Us” page
- How-to guides for your blog
- Bite-sized Tweets
- Pay-per-click (PPC) ads
Curating content with your brand voice
Curated content is a little different because you’re sharing content other people have created. But it doesn’t always have to be in the same format in which you found it.
You can turn stats into infographics. Or create curated lists of blog posts you find. Repurposing content gives it a new lease of life. And it gives you a chance to rewrite things using your brand voice. (Just always remember to credit the source!)
If you really want to up your content curation game, you should always be using this one hack: adding unique insight.
Let’s take Twitter, for example. It’s easy to hit that retweet button. We all do it. But where’s the value in that for your followers? By taking the time to write a share text to go alongside it, you’re adding value in your own voice.
Your brand can do the same. Find content that’s going to interest your audience and tell them why. In a way only you know how.
5. Create brand voice guidelines to stay consistent
This last part will help you stay on track. Because it’s easy to stray from your original plan if you don’t have guidelines you can refer back to. Think of it as a style guide for a consistent brand voice.
You’ll probably have multiple media channels for your marketing efforts. Tons of different places and touchpoints for potential customers. If you don’t sound the same across all of them, you can count on that “unsubscribe” button being hit.
Consistency makes you seem trustworthy. This is especially important if you outsource content writers. They need to understand the style they should be writing in. Every employee should be a strategist for your brand.
Examples of brand voice guidelines
For example, here’s the tone of voice section in Skype’s Brand Book:
Uber summarizes its brand voice in 3 terms in theirs:
- With heart
Then goes into more detail with specific editing tips:
Your guidelines could include:
- Dos and don’ts
- Color and typography specifics
- Content before and afters
- Copywriting tips
- Legal reminders
However you choose to do it, make it clear and true to your chosen personality. You might want to change it over time as your company evolves. Of course, this is fine. But make sure you update your guidelines when you do.
Creating a unique brand voice isn’t as hard as you think. Especially because you’ve already got everything you need to do it.
You want your target audience to relate to you. You have to connect with them in a way that others don’t. This can only happen through what you’re saying and how you’re saying it.
But being memorable doesn’t mean being fake. You don’t have to be so far out of the box that you can’t even see the box. Just be genuine, and the connection will be too.
Which brands do you love to follow on social media? Who has a memorable brand voice? Let us know in the comments!