A brand voice is self-explanatory. Brand voice= the voice of your brand. Simple, right?Your brand voice is a great tool in helping viewers understand your business. Words, tones, and punctuation used are all factors that help gives your business an identity.But more than an identity, establishing and maintaining a brand voice creates consistency across various channels. If your blog post is written in the same style as your social media posts, viewers are able to understand it as yours.It’s because of this constant consistency that readers will say “Oh, this is written by (your company)” before they even look at the logo. Doesn’t matter what platform they’re on, because the writing style alone is recognizable. How’s that for efficiency?So if you’re struggling to find the right brand voice, here are a few steps to help you out:
Deciding on a brand voice is serious business, so be prepared to dedicate time. Start by gathering together a variety of content you’ve published. Social media posts, website wordage, video captions, grab it all!Once you’ve gathered a little bit of everything, take a critical look at each piece of content.If there are any pieces where the voice is too outlandish, similar to competitors, or didn’t receive a lot of interaction, toss them out. Keep the pieces that users interacted with and pieces you find interesting.Continue whittling down the pieces until you are left with a unique brand voice. This voice should be completely you. As such, this is the voice that will resonate with your audience.
Take a quick break to grab a whiteboard, chalkboard, notepad, sticky notes, or whatever other medium you prefer to write on.Are you back? Good.Think of your brand as a person, not a business. Based off the unique voice you picked from the previous step, try describing its personality. What characteristics makes your brand’s personality different from competitors? Write down whatever comes to mind. After you’ve written down a list, start to narrow it down to 3-5 major characteristics. Here’s an example. If you’re up-to-date with social media, then you could describe Wendy’s brand voice as:-Sassy-Bold-ImpudentAnd that’s not a bad thing; quite the contrary. Wendy’s followers are primarily teenagers and young adults, making a ‘brass’ voice the right choice for their company.The lesson to learn here is to find characteristics that separate your voice from competitors while still attracting the right audience. It’s best to stick to 3-5 main characteristics to describe your brand, but feel free to add more information.Continuing with the Wendy’s example, under the ‘sassy’ characteristic, you could write: lively, feisty, expressive, and direct. The more you describe your voice’s characteristics, the less confusion there will be from your team.
In order to maintain consistency when you have a team of content producers, you need a brand voice reference. A brand voice reference is commonly referred to as a Style Guide, which will become your business’ best friend.The layout of a Style Guide differs from business to business, but the content is the same. Write down the dos and don’ts for each of your 3-5 listed characteristics, followed by a brief description or definition to minimize confusion and assumptions.Ever heard the phrase ‘the devil is in the details’? It's true.In your Style Guide, it’s critical to include the details of your brand voice. How often will you use exclamation points or semicolons? Will you italicize, bold, or underline words and phrases? How does your business feel about oxford commas and abbreviations?A well-written Style Guide going to take time and should be constantly added to. The more carefully you define the rules, the more likely your employees will understand and follow, thus maintaining brand voice consistency in the content produced.
After you’ve put on the finishing touches on your Style Guide, meet with your team. The meeting’s sole purpose should be to describe each characteristic of the Style Guide. Make sure everyone on your team understands the new voice, especially your writers.It’s best to show the rules through examples. Create example content for a variety of purposes (articles, posts, etc.) to show how each element in the Style Guide is incorporated.Having everyone understand can help your employees check each other’s work to make sure the content matches the Style Guide.