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What is a Brand Voice?
Do you think you could recognize a Tim Burton movie without having seen it or knowing he directed it? How about Wes Anderson? Could you tell me that a song was by Pink Floyd or Imagine Dragons before you even heard the singer’s voice? How about Fleetwood Mac?
Chances are, if you have any familiarity with these artists, you could pick out their work with minimal effort – it would probably even be automatic. The same could be said of the writing of Hunter S. Thompson, a show on Fox News, and a commercial from an American car company.
There’s a reason for this, and it might be important to you and your business: all of the above examples have a cohesive voice, making them instantly recognizable, familiar, and, if they’ve done their job, likable and engaging.
Everything up for sale has a brand voice of some kind. Tim Burton is dark and whimsical, Hunter S. Thompson is rebellious and makes us believe he’s always on the verge of crashing and burning, and American car companies offer us a sense of pride and tradition, but also comfort by reassuring us that they are on the cutting edge of technology: we’ve been here for a long time, and we aren’t going anywhere.
Your brand’s voice is more than how you advertise or your mission statement. It has to do with the words you use, the attitude behind those words, and how they relate to the people you are talking to (very important) – this all speaks to the overall feeling and tone of who your business is.
Quick tip: Don’t think your brand has a voice? It does, it just may not be one that people want to listen to or trust. Crafting yours with intention is very important. We can help you.
Your brand voice embodies everything about who your brand is and what it offers, and you need to create yours, and you want to do this with intention so that you can use it effectively and make sure it embodies your message. Your brand voice is how you draw loyal customers who have a deep sense of connection to your business and your product.
But Why Though?
Here’s the thing: there is a lot of competition out there these days. The internet and a globalized economy have expanded people’s options in a big way, so it’s your job to help people understand why they should do business with you.
Quick tip: do a quick Google search for the service you offer. How many other people are offering the same thing or something similar? What makes you stand out?
Here’s another thing: humans are nowhere near as rational as we like to think we are. As Jill Bolte Taylor says, “Most of us think of ourselves as thinking creatures that feel, but we are actually feeling creatures that think.”
Our instinct might be to present people with the facts about why our product is better, why our service is better, and why we are superior to our competitors and then let them make the best, most well-informed choice, but this won’t work.
People tend to make purchasing decisions emotionally rather than logically, and this is why so many major brands are more intent on telling who they are and how they work than just throwing out numbers and statistics.
And, here’s one final thing: because of this emotional decision-making, your customers need to trust you to buy into what you’re selling. The facts and the figures and the application of authority may not bring you what you’re looking for.
This is why your brand needs a cohesive voice – people need to understand who they are doing business with, and it needs to be someone they can trust and someone who will be there for them. They need to feel comfortable making an emotional decision to invest their time and energy into what you are offering.
A brand voice allows your business to be that someone. It helps create a relationship in their mind, and this will only help you (and by extension them, because you are offering them something they need).
A brand voice also allows people to hear and engage with your message across platforms and products. You know a Chevy commercial, whether it’s for a truck, a car, or an SUV, and how you feel about the company is present no matter the make or the model. This is why we sometimes struggle when a brand we like shifts its messaging or voice – we feel attached to the familiar.
Now comes the big question: how do you find your brand voice?
There’s a super simple answer here, but I’ll wait to share it with you. Let’s look at the mechanics of it first.
Let’s be clear about one thing from the get-go: your brand voice needs to emerge from who your brand is – it needs to be genuine and authentic and real, or your potential customers will flee from you. As a species, we have some pretty serious BS detectors wired into our DNA – trying to be something you’re not will backfire (many of us are experiencing this currently as companies try to pivot to being our best buddy during the pandemic – it feels false and icky).
Quick tip: Don’t try to use memes if you don’t actually love memes. It shows. The youngsters notice when you use a meme that’s been dead for two years.
So, you’re going to be authentic and real, but what does that sound like for your brand voice?
There are some simple questions you can ask yourself:
- What does your brand stand for/believe in/want to share with the world? Take this deeper than “I want to sell you a water softener.” Tell me why I should choose you to buy it from by offering me a larger picture of who you want to be in business.
- What are your brand’s values? What is important to you? What is the larger purpose of this amazing thing you’re building?
- If your company was a person who would they be? How would they dress, what would they do for fun, what kind of friend group would they have?
In short, if your company were a person, how would they express their unique personality? What would their dating profile look like? (think eHarmony, not Tinder).
Quick Tip: If your company isn’t someone you’d want to hang out with, you may need to adjust your mission and values before establishing a brand voice. Untrustworthy/shady/needs to bathe doesn’t sell very well.
There are tools and resources for doing this online, but here’ that super simple answer I promised you: let us do it for you. We think about and write about and work on this stuff a lot – we even watch videos and take courses on it for fun. Not only can we help you establish your brand voice, but we can also tell you how to use it to talk to the buyers who are most likely to become your best customers (more on them in another blog) by creating a customized Rulebook for your business.
No matter what you choose to do, a brand voice is important. What’s yours? How can we help you define/refine/utilize it?