A clear, well defined brand voice is an essential part of every successful business. When executed well, it creates consistency and recognition across every aspect of a company’s communication, both on and offline.
“iPad Pro. Super. Computer. Now in two sizes.” (Apple)
(Slick, confident, self-assured, no-nonsense)
“hello, we’re innocent …and we’re here to make it easy for people to do themselves some good” (Innocent)
(Friendly, informal, approachable, easy-going)
If you’re new in business, or considering a re-brand, you might be thinking about creating your own brand voice.
But how do you go about defining it? Should it be corporate and formal? Or friendly and chatty? To get the creative ball rolling, have a go at answering these questions…
What size is your company?
If you’re a freelancer like me, you’re likely to be doing most (if not all) of your client communications yourself. Once people have read your website copy, they’ll call up and speak directly to you. For this reason, you may want to adopt a more personal, one-to-one, conversational tone in your writing. If you’re a larger company, your copy will speak on behalf of multiple people so a slightly less personal tone might be appropriate. You’ll probably refer to yourselves as a group i.e. “we” and “our” but that doesn’t mean your voice can’t also be friendly (see example from Innocent above).
How do you want your reader to feel?
If your product is something fun and frivolous you’ll want to reflect that in your tone. For example, a travel agent selling ‘18-30s’ holidays will want to convey a sense of fun and excitement through the words they use. On the other hand, an insurance broker will want their reader to feel reassured and secure. They may use a more sensible, authoritative voice to achieve this. If your business sells something that doesn’t have such an obvious emotional attachment- even better! You have the opportunity to create any brand image you like!
(Price comparison services and Russian meerkats might not seem like an obvious match… but then again…)
What does your brand look like?
A strong brand isn’t just a great logo, website design or tone of voice. It’s the consistent image that’s created when all those elements (and more!) come together. So when you’re deciding how your brand should sound, you also need to consider how it looks. Make sure your graphics, colours and typeface are all fully aligned with one another.
I remember listening to a talk a few years ago, by branding expert Simon Jordan. As an exercise, he asked us:
“If your company was a supermarket, which supermarket would it be?”
Each major supermarket in the UK has a clearly defined brand image and target audience. You could almost arrange them in a line from ‘low-budget’ to ‘high-end’ and note the changes in brand image, from one end to the other.
So if you’re creating your brand from scratch, think about which supermarket you’d align yourself with. It’s just a nice little exercise, to get the cogs moving…