The importance of your Brand’s voice

Creating a website is one thing, but populating it with content is a whole other story and can be quite daunting, especially if you are a small organisation.

It has been well proven that the look and feel and UX flow of your website are absolutely crucial to conversions. What happens though after the beautiful website has been built, has been launched, and analytics implemented? It is the daily business as usual tasks which can creep up on people and cause many to panic. How do you populate the site with engaging, interesting content? And how to you make the site itself a friendly, and appealing entity which encourages you to spend time on it and helps your customers along the way?

Content rules the web-o-sphere that we live in today, there is no doubt about that. Consumers these days have very little patience for brands who merely brag about themselves and showcase thir products online. More and more, people are looking for and are gravitating towards brands that echo human sentiments, and have conversations around something that they can relate to or that they are interested in. Dave Kerpen, CEO of Likeable Media, famously said:

At a cocktail party, you wouldn’t walk up to someone and say, ‘Hey, I’m Dave. My stuff is 20 percent off.’ What you do is ask questions, tell stories, listen and relate to people.

As well as being a service or product provider, many companies are now striving to be thought-leaders or experts in their areas. And this is working. An article by someone who has been say, in the fashion or makeup industry for 20 years can hold a lot more weight for someone looking to learn than an article by a reporter on the subject, who has been doing research for say, a week.

Like anything though, this must start with baby steps, a good blog (or vlog) with a significant following does not just happen overnight. You have to start small and start cultivating your audience though your website, and the tone of voice you use there, through your social media and the kinds of articles or photos that you share and comment on. When you start to think about the people you are targeting, how they would like to see content, and what kind of voice they would like to hear, then you are halfway there.

Right of the box before you can start creating any content whatsoever (this includes the smallest sentence), you first need to nail down your website and brand tone-of-voice if you do not have one already. Your brand voice must echo who you are as a company. Many brands try to be something they are very clearly not, and trying too hard comes off as cringeworthy. If you are not targeting younger people with your products, then don’t speak as if you are addressing them. Don’t try to be ‘down with the kids’ please, just don’t. Always keep it simple and true to your company values.

What is a ‘Brand Voice?’

A brand’s voice is your brand personality described in an adjective. For instance, brands can be lively, positive, cynical, or professional. A brands voice is made up of the components below.

Character / persona — Who does your brand sound like? If you picture your brand as a person (a character), here is where you can flesh out this identity with specific attributes that fit who you want to sound like online.

Tone — What is the general vibe of your brand? A subset of your brand’s voice. Tone adds specific flavor to your voice based on factors like audience, situation, and channel.

Language — What kind of words do you use in your online/print conversations?

Purpose — Why are you online/ on social media in the first place?

6 Steps to help you with your brand tone and voice:

1. Define who you are.

What is your usp? What do you pride yourselves on? If nothing is coming to mind then gather some documents or barnd documents and read over these. How are you describing your business? What kind of an ethos is discernable there? — Listening can reveal how your community speaks and can help you speak easier with them and to them. You can use their language and meet them on their terms.Your goal is to shave down your examples to a small group of pieces unique to your brand. The following categories or crucial to deciding your brand persona:

2. Describe your brand voice in three words

For deciding on these words, work with your key content creators and owners of the brand identity. Review all the selected content as the best examples of the brand voice you want to embody. If your brand was a person, how would you describe its personality to someone? In the same room as a whiteboard, work with your key content creators and owners of the brand identity. Review all the selected content as the best examples of the brand voice you want to embody. Discuss common themes across all of those pieces. Group the examples into three related buckets, and from these buckets, distill it down to one word that represents each.

3. Set up Do’s and Don’ts

Brand voice is just as much about what you don’t say as what you do say. If your company wants to steer clear of certain words or phrases, go for it! These little edits of likes and dislikes help to define who you are. So, make a no-go list. These can be words with negative connotations, or simply words that don’t fit with your image.

4. How do you get everyone onboard with using it?

You’ve defined your voice and tone, but how do you get everyone onboard with using it? Meet with the team and anyone who creates content or communications, and walk them through the new brand voice and the steps it took to get there. Go through some examples of content that hits the mark, and show how you would revise some existing company content that isn’t reflective of the defined voice to realign to it. If possible, provide the team with a laminated or card-stock copy of your brand voice chart to keep at their desk for reference. Ensure an electronic version also is available.

5. Implement and Ensure Consistency

Run through every piece of writing and change it according to your brand voice. Start with your most important channels and work your way downwards.

6. Revise and revisit

This is crucial in finding out if any voice attributes haven’t been working well or are more aspirational than possible for whatever reason. Regularly check and re-check the material being produced by your company to make sure that it is in line with your new brand voice.