Finding your brand’s Voice
For the past two days, I have stumbled into a rather hard barrier as I work on finding new ideas to voice a brand, talk about the writer’s block!
I decided to do some intense research that will provide a clearer way of going about this project and hopefully a silver lining will soon be found.
Brand voice refers to the personality and emotion infused into a company’s communications. Where there is a company, there is usually a voice.
You can create a voice chart to be able to help in the process of finding your brand’s voice, below are some pointers;
Gather a representative sample of your content
You want to cast a wide net — gather everything from videos to web pages, e-books to your social media calendar. Now, cast a critical eye on the content. Which of these examples could have come from any of your competitors? Set those aside. Your goal is to whittle down your examples to a small group of pieces unique to your brand – examples of the brand voice you want to embody. Print these examples and put up on a whiteboard, grouping together pieces with a similar feel.
Describe your brand voice in three words
In the same room as the whiteboard (or with the board visible to all in a virtual environment) work with your key content creators and owners of the brand identity. Review all the selected content as the best examples of the brand voice you want to embody. Discuss common themes across all of those pieces. Group the examples into three related buckets.
If your brand was a person, how would you describe its personality to someone? At this point, also talk about how you would describe your competitors as people, too.
Let’s create an example using these three broad traits:
Define each one further. How do these characteristics show up in audience communication? How do they come across in the kind of content you’re creating? How to they appear in your focused topics? Let’s continue this example:
- Passionate – expressive, enthusiastic, heartfelt, action-oriented
- Quirky – irreverent, unexpected, contrarian
- Authentic – genuine, trustworthy, engaging, direct
Create a brand voice chart
With your brand’s voice defined, illustrate how it turns up more concretely in your content with a brand voice chart. It will be an essential reference tool to ensure your content (text and visuals) is consistently using the same voice.
Include three rows for each of the primary characteristics accompanied by three columns – a brief description, do’s, and don’ts. If necessary, add a row for any secondary characteristic that needs a little extra explanation. In this example, “irreverent” is a related word and should be fleshed out so the team is clear on how it is defined (i.e., Does irreverent mean to challenge the status quo or to be snarky?)
Ensure your writers understand how to put your brand voice into action
You’ve defined your voice and tone, and shown it in an easy-to-understand chart. How do you get everyone onboard with using it? Meet with the team – anyone who creates content or communications – and walk them through the chart.
Go through some examples of content that hits the mark, and show in real time how you would revise some existing content that isn’t reflective of the defined voice to realign to it. If possible, provide the team with a laminated or card-stock copy of the brand voice chart to keep at their desk for reference. Ensure an electronic version also is available.
Revisit and revise the brand voice chart as the company changes over time
A brand voice chart is not meant to be a one-time-set-it-and-forget-it tool. As your brand messaging evolves or new competitors come into your market, it’s good to take a look at the chart and refresh it with new examples.
On a quarterly basis, convene your key content creators and communicators to find out if any voice attributes haven’t been working well or are more aspirational than possible for whatever reason. For instance, many brands initially include “irreverence,” but find that many of their writers are uncomfortable flexing that muscle or that copy is consistently deleted by your key approvers. If that’s the case, it may be time for a voice refresh, or some new do’s and don’ts.