Why brand voice is just as important as visual brand.
When we talk to organisations about brand, I’d say about 90% are almost solely focused on the visual elements. When they’re looking to refresh their brand, or overhaul it entirely, they’re thinking about a new logo, colour palate, maybe some new fonts and imagery. These are all obviously important elements of brand but solely focusing on the visual aspects of your brand overlooks such a huge part of your brand identity – your voice.
Your brand voice should be the personality and emotion of your organisation captured in your written communications. It should be distinct and unique to your business. And, most importantly, it should be consistent and recognisable across all channels. When done properly, any time someone reads something written by your organisation they should experience a level of familiarity, it should invoke feelings they associate with your brand and it should further the relationship they have with you.
Voice vs Tone
A popular misconception is organisations need different voices for different audiences. The way they want to speak on their social channels needs to be different to a report they might do for their shareholders. This is where the distinction between voice and tone comes in.
Whilst your voice should be the consistent expression of your personality, tone is the way you apply that voice to match specific situations. This allows you to maintain the core personality and emotion that makes your organisation who you are but manipulate it to suit your needs.
Finding your voice
Your brand voice should come directly from your core brand identity. It should reflect your values and purpose and be tailored to your key target audience. If you haven’t established what identity your brand is trying to put across then this needs to be your first port of call.
- Explore the role you are trying to play in your clients/supporters/members lives. What problems are you solving for them? Why do they need you?
- Consider who these people are – create customer/supporter/member avatars and explore the things that drive them, the challenges they face and where they do their big shop
- Establish what you want your brand personality to be – are you bold and daring? Are you knowledgeable? Are you friendly and approachable? Are you a bit of a mix of the above or something completely different?
Get some style
With your brand identity established, it’s time to outline how that translates into your brand voice. How does you reflect that personality in your communications? Most importantly, how do you ensure this remains consistent across all communication channels?
Much like with your visual brand, you should look to capture your brand voice in a style guide. A document that can be circulated throughout your organisation and outlines how to capture your brand voice. This should include some narrative about what your people should be looking to achieve with their writing as well as some guidance on how this can be done.
This might include:
- Example copy
- Yes/No words & phrases
- Stock phrases
It’s also important to share the process you’ve been through to get where you are – how your brand identity was developed and what it means to you as an organisation. This will help them buy into it and feel more inclined to ensure that they’re doing what they can to incorporate it into their work. This is also an opportunity to open the process up to them and get their feedback – does the voice you’ve defined reflect their feelings and impressions of your organisations? Their input could provide a different perspective you go on to include in your final version. Their involvement will also provide a sense of ownership – ensuring that it’s fully adopted.
Without a clear and distinct voice, your brand essentially becomes muzzled in your attempts to communicate with your audience, build a relationship and influence decisions. As with other elements of your brand, you have an opportunity to build deeper, stronger, long-lasting connections with a little time & thought. Find your voice and start making some noise in the right way.
If you’re looking for support in establishing and defining your brand voice, we’re here to help – find out more and get in touch here.