Your company’s messaging creates a particular response in your target audience when they read or hear it. Are you making them excited? Curious? Or are you confusing them? A brand voice is like a person who remains consistent in the way they perceive, behave, and speak. When you develop a successful brand voice for your organization you will find it makes a big difference as shown in several important measures.
The following 7 steps will enable you to understand and implement the essentials for developing a successful brand voice that resonates with the people who are important to your brand.
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 and customers. Although seemingly on opposite sides of the spectrum, these two statements work together to deliver cohesive messaging that motivates all members of the organization 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.
Your brand’s tone of voice is how the character of your business comes through in the words you write and speak. It’s not about what you say, but the way you say it — and the impression it makes on everyone who reads or hears you. This is how high-profile marketing expert, Ann Handley, defines tone of voice. Consistency in a brand voice is important because it defines your company culture, speaks directly to your ideal clients and customers, and becomes a memorable representation of all your organization has to offer.
Here are some of the benefits created from developing an effective tone of voice:
Gather all your marketing content to review your current branding. From your website copy to your newsletters and printed materials, audit the content with your team and welcome any positive critiques. Could any of the content pass as something disseminated by competitors in your industry? Which of the content pieces stand 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. Monitoring competitor brands will help you to develop a successful brand voice.
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? Young adults speak differently than women in the market for pregnancy products, for instance. In fact, Generation Z is known to seek out social media before 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? Develop a profile for your target audience, get into their minds, and refine your brand voice in a way that speaks directly to them.
Don’t forget your employees. They would have deep insights and feelings about your brand. They are customers as well, and you need their input so you can develop a successful brand voice.
Check what your competitors are doing. How do they position themselves? What key messages do they use? What sort of language do they use?
Image, right: William Iven-gcsNOsPESfs-Unsplash.
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 is matches what they feel is being relayed. If the feedback displays discrepancies, you know where you should be focusing. If the feedback matches up with your intended brand voice, then you have confirmation you’re on the right track.
One of the most damaging myths in the business world is the belief that branding is solely a marketing and marketing communication function. All your colleagues—from the assembly line to the C-suite—should be participating in communicating your own brand. But your brand community doesn’t stop there. Your business partners and shareholders, and ultimately your customers, are part of the equation too. When all stakeholders are included in feedback and brand development, they can have a powerful impact on the company’s brand value.
Jeff Bezos is widely quoted as saying, “Your brand is what other people say about you when you’re not in the room,” but the truth is, effective branding means there are no vague “other people” in the process of brand communication – they are all participants. If your branding is rooted in authenticity, and everyone who interacts with your company’s products or services has an experience that reinforces the positive brand message, the rewards of effective branding can be reaped, says branding expert William Arruda in a 2016 Forbes article.
Review your brand values from your inside perspective. Use the five questions below to prompt your answers to gain valuable insights into what to do to develop a successful brand voice.
Image: “Watch your tone.”
Then 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?
Three values is a good number of single-word values to use to reflect your brand voice. Any more or fewer are not as effective.
You can use these guiding thoughts for a writing style capturing your tone of voice:
When writing about your organization, you can use the first person plural (“we”) or the third person plural (“Delta Industrial Equipment”). The first person gives a more immediate positioning with the reader while the third person is more distant.
When writing to potential customers etc, you can use the second person singular (“you”) to make it more personal, or third person plural (“customers” or “shareholders”).
These recommendations below will help you to achieve a clear and positive tone-of-voice in your writing:
Document guidelines to ensure consistency. As you move through the above phases of developing your brand voice and tone, keep a strong and detailed set of notes for reference. Next, create brand voice guidelines that outline best practices for explaining company values and maintaining consistency across digital and printed content. This is particularly important if you’re working with a content writing service which has writers who aren’t as familiar with your brand’s materials as much as an in-house writer. Also, marketing agencies and PR firms can refer to a tone-of-voice guide they can when they write.
Image, right: by Scott Graham-OQMZwNd3ThU-Unsplash.
Suggested sections for a tone-of-voice guide include:
Setting up clear standards allows you and your team to have a robust style guide to measure up against new content. 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. When this is achieved you can look back and say you have developed a successful brand voice.
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