The brand voice describes how a brand communicates with its target audience. The exact style of communication is based on the brand persona or the collection of personality traits and values that a brand embodies regularly, and it needs to communicate the brand’s essence to the desired target audience.
Understanding brand voice
A core component of brand voice is the personification of a brand. A surf shop adopts the vocabulary and care-free attitude of surfers in their advertising campaigns. A clothing company selling blue-collar workwear embodies the tough, rugged exterior of deep-voiced construction workers.
Importantly, brand voice must be consistent wherever a brand “speaks” to its target audience -whether that be radio, television, social media or email newsletter. Consistency ensures that a brand does not give mixed messages to consumers, who may have difficulty determining whether the values of a brand align with their own.
Developing a brand voice
While methods vary, this five-step process will help businesses establish, create, and then maintain a consistent brand voice for future success.
1. Assess a representative sample of content
A business should first critically assess the content it has released thus far. Does the content accurately reflect what the business wants to communicate? Or conversely, is the content more closely aligned with the brand of a competitor?
The business should set aside content it feels is an accurate representation of its brand, grouping them according to the emotions or feelings they conjure.
2. Describe brand voice in three words
Here, the business should review the set-aside content and have a group discussion on the common themes or values present in each. Then, it is important to link these themes and values to personality traits. To get a better idea of the personality traits a brand embodies, it may be helpful to assign personality traits to competitors also.
For example, one brand may be authentic if a competitor tends to imitate others. Another may be passionate and joyful if the competitor is calm and austere.
3. Create a brand voice chart
With the personality traits identified in the previous step, briefly describe each and then list actions that do and don’t support these traits in marketing initiatives. Visually represented in the form of a table, this chart will be an invaluable reference tool in ensuring that content is consistently aligned with brand voice.
4. Liaise with content and marketing teams
Arguably the most important step involves obtaining buy-in from any employee who will be involved in brand messaging. To achieve this goal, personality traits and examples of on-point content should be made available as these employees create future marketing content.
5. Revisit and revise
While the core traits of brand voice should never change over time, elements of brand messaging will need to be tweaked in response to a new competitor or other fluctuating market conditions. For example, the current pandemic has forced most brands to incorporate empathic, understanding, and community-minded messaging.
In any case, it is a good idea to evaluate strategies quarterly to ensure that brand voice is sensitive to wider societal and organizational contexts.
- Brand voice is the communication of particular personality traits and values to a target audience that represents a specific brand.
- Brand voice must be consistent across all marketing channels. Otherwise, a consumer may become confused as to the alignment of brand values and their own values.
- Brand voice can be developed in an iterative, five-step process. Among other things, the process ensures that a business does not adopt the voice of a competitor.
Visual Marketing Glossary