Your company’s messaging invokes a particular feeling when read or heard by your target audience. Are you making them excited? Curious? Or are you confusing them and creating cynicism? Consistency in a brand voice is important because it defines your organizational culture, speaks directly to your ideal clients, customers, employees and other key stakeholders, and becomes a memorable representation of all your organization has to offer.
A brand is a person’s perception of a product, service, experience, or organization based on an organization’s identifying logo, name and presence, according to HubSpot.
1. Review your mission statement, values, and brand promise
Your brand includes visual elements, and portrays your organization’s mission and values. Your mission statement is how you have organized your company’s core perspective to attract and motivate employees, and your brand promise is how you’ve positioned the face of the company to deliver quality services and goods to your clients, customers and the general public. Although seemingly on opposite sides of the spectrum, these two statements work together to deliver cohesive messaging that motivates all employees to represent the company well and feed its positive reputation.
Look for correlations across these perspectives and identify their measurable qualities. For example, FedEx started with a very simple, direct, and easily measurable brand promise: “We will get your package to you by 10:30AM the next day.” There is no room for error in understanding their promise and their mission statement also reflects their inherent goal of serving customer requirements in the “highest quality manner” along with developing “mutually rewarding relationships with its team members, partners and suppliers.”
2. Audit all your content
From your website copy to your newsletters and printed materials, gather all your marketing content to review your existing branding. Audit the content with your team and welcome any positive feedback. Could any of the content be mistaken for other organizations? What material of your stands out, representing the mission, promise, and standards of your unique value proposition?
Save those pieces and make them the core examples for rewriting all other content and for any future content that is to be shared across your networks and in your advertising materials.
3. Conduct market research
When directing content to your target audience, you use a specific voice. Review and update your market research — who are you selling to and what are their pesky pain points? How old are they and what kind of language do they use? For instance, Generation Z is known to seek out social media prior to making online purchases, looking at apps like Snapchat and Instagram to help them decide where their spending dollars go.
Dig deeper. What does your audience like to do in their free time? What are their demographics? Develop a profile of your target audience, get into their minds, and refine your brand voice in a way that speaks directly to them.
4. Ask for feedback
Without feedback, you’re only hearing your own echo. This makes for a house of mirrors filled with blind spots. Survey your audience and check in with your employees to be sure what you think your brand messaging matches what they feel is being relayed. If the feedback shows discrepancies, you know where your work is. If the feedback matches up with your intended brand voice, then you have confirmation you’re on the right track.
“Your brand is what other people say about you when you’re not in the room.” – Jeff Bezos, Amazon Founder
5. List your values and define personality
A brand voice is like a person who remains consistent in the way they perceive, behave, and speak. List your values — for example, you may choose values like friendliness, kindness, reliability, timeliness, etc. Next, define the personality that exemplifies your values. Is this person humorous, authoritative, bold, or formal?
Sometimes, looking at the organization’s top salesperson or CEO helps as a starting to define values, personality, and ultimately brand voice.
6. Document guidelines to ensure consistency
As you move through the above phases of developing your brand voice, keep a strong and detailed set of notes to turn to for reference. Next, create brand voice guidelines that outline best practices for elucidating company values and maintaining consistency across digital and printed content. This is particularly important if you’re working with a content writing service like mine who has writers that aren’t as familiar with your brand’s materials as much as an in house writer will be.
Setting up clear standards allows you and your team to have a verified style guide to measure new content up against. Make this information available to all employees, especially those involved in marketing and creative projects to ignite your messaging and keep it moving like wildfire throughout every aspect of your organization.
When enough effort is focused on cementing the guidelines created, your brand voice becomes an integral part of your company’s culture, like a personality that gets injected into the consciousness of the entire organization.