Before you can find your brand voice, you first need to understand what a brand voice actually is. You may have heard marketers tossing this term around and are a little curious, or you already know that you need to pay attention to it, but don’t know where to start.
A brand voice is the way a business communicates with its audience. It’s a component of a business’ personality crafted from a strong understanding of the collective values, unique selling proposition, and ideal client avatar. A brand voice is the words you choose. The emotions you convey through your tone. The phrases that are off limits and used commonly within your company culture. It’s everything down to the nitty gritty of your spelling and punctuation. All of these details shape the perception people have of your business as a whole.
Developing a consistent brand voice sets the stage for meaningful connections—trusting relationships with your target clients.
When you start to think of your business as a entity separate from yourself (this is especially important for solopreneurs and personal brands!), then you can give your business it’s own brand personality. This personality is what people will recognize as your business. It’s this personality that allows for connections, should be memorable, and attracts dream clients that are drawn to the messaging and vibe carefully constructed to bring them in.
Over years of working with small and large businesses, solopreneurs, freelancers, and personal brands, I’ve developed a framework to create an engaging and attractive brand personality. My ultimate goal is to help private clients and students make more sales online, and grow their businesses. To do that, we need to be super strategic when developing a brand personality so their ideal client avatar absolutely loves the vibe. When done incorrectly, the brand personality and brand voice might actually turn off the people you want to connect with.
I can’t give away all my secrets (that’s why you work with me or enroll in my courses!), but the framework combines a few key components of an overall brand strategy. These are pieces often included in a brand voice and style guide. Here’s a few to give you an idea:
Core values: I always begin with the core values when developing a brand personality and voice. These are a great starting point because they show what the business is all about at it’s core. A business that states “innovation” as one of it’s core values will likely speak differently than one that notes something like “traditions.” Think of your own core values as an individual compared to those of a partner, close friend, or family member. Your values impact your personality traits and the same is true in branding.
Ideal client avatar: Of course the brand personality is a reflection of the business, but the ideal client avatar needs to be considered as well. Are there specific traits they will feel particularly drawn to and should be highlighted? For example, if the dream client has tried to get help for their specific challenge in the past, but was let down, they might be looking for a business that appears professional and reliable, so they can start to trust with little friction.
Owner’s personality: Even though I suggest to all clients and students that they think of their businesses as separate from themselves, there’s typically still bits of the owner woven throughout the brand personality. What good sides of them should be highlighted? What traits should the business run with and what boundaries can be drawn?
Communication standards: Each business follows a different set of communication standards and these should be considered when creating a brand voice and personality. Where and how you speak with prospects and clients. The type of language you use, formatting rules, and the topics you publicly discuss.
There are plenty of other factors to consider when developing a brand voice, but these are some of the most important to begin with. I walk private clients and students through a series of exercises to find their unique brand voice.
A quick note: I prefer thinking of brand voice as something you create, rather than find. Sure, elements of it might already be floating in your head waiting for you to notice them, but create is much more active and strategic. You need to carefully select each component of your brand voice.
To get started creating your brand voice, ask yourself the following questions:
What are the core values of your business? As mentioned about, your brand personality should be rooted in your values, mission, and vision.
How do you want customers to perceive your business? If you’re already operating, ask your audience how they describe your brand, so you can learn what’s translating and what’s missing the mark.
If your business were a person, what would they act like? What would they talk like? What would they do?
Write down all the descriptors that come to mind when considering the above questions. These are the beginnings of your goals for your brand voice. Is your voice funny and quick? Or thoughtful and creative-minded? Do you use slang or industry jargon? Or stick to conversational, colloquial language?
Another aspect to consider: tone. Tone is the emotional inflection of your voice. Your brand needs to empathize with your audience in order to authentically connect. In what instances are specific emotions appropriate? For example, you don’t want to crack a joke at your audience’s expense unless they find that kind of humour funny.
These are just the basics to consider when crafting your brand voice. I walk my clients and students through these questions plus a whole lot more to make sure we really nail a personality that resonates with their audience before writing any copy. Brand voice and style guidelines are typically a prerequisite to any other type of copywriting project.
Own your weirdness! This is something that I teach. If you want to be memorable or stand out from the crowd, you need to position yourself as that personality. What makes you unique? What weird things about you could be used in your marketing strategy? Which of your personality traits do your clients and customers feel most connected to?
After you’ve determined what your brand voice will sound like, you need to document it in a brand voice and style guide! I mentioned this briefly above, but why is it so important?
A brand voice and style guide is important because it…
Ensures consistency as your business grows. New team members will know how to replicate your brand voice in their work.
Ensures completeness of your brand strategy. Are there any areas that need further attention?
Improves efficiency: streamline employee onboarding, community management best practices, and project management processes with the help of a brand voice guide.
Is considered when developing marketing plans, storytelling campaigns, etc.
By building strong foundations through drafting and documenting guidelines, it ensures we’re on track creating content moving forward into a project. It sounds like an overwhelming task to tackle, so many new business owners skip this step, but it’s absolutely crucial to hit that next level growing your business online.
Do you have any questions? It’s a conceptual process and can be a lot to take in. Leave your questions or comments below! I’m always happy to help. And if you want to dive in even deeper, enroll in my free 4-day course: 4 Steps to Profit.
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