One of the hallmarks of a widely-recognised, successful brand is a distinctive voice. Take Innocent Drinks, for example. On the bottom of one batch of Innocent smoothie cartons, the copy reads “You should probably try opening this carton at the other end. Not that we’re telling you how to run your life or anything, but it seems to work much easier when the drink comes out of the spout on the top”. The bottom of another carton says “Stop looking at my bottom”. While of course, this cheeky, witty tone won’t be appropriate for all brands, it does provide a shining example of how companies can adapt an appropriate and consistent tone of voice to stand our from their competitors. Today, our content marketing expert outlines how to create a voice for your brand…
Creating a unique voice for your brand
The importance of creating a unique ‘voice’ for your brand should not be overlooked. Without a cohesive voice, you may soon find that your business struggles to resonate with its target demographic and that blogs, newsletters and social media communications seem uneven, unclear or uncertain.
Customers need consistency from brands to feel comfortable placing their trust with given businesses. Without a unified brand voice, it may appear that the right hand does not really know what the left hand is doing – or that the right hand is unaware that another hand exists at all.
It is important to understand that your brand’s personality is not your own. You may want nothing more than to sit down for a chat over a nice cup of tea with every single customer that comes your way, but if your clients are predominantly busy, corporate individuals, then you may need to keep your communications brief and to the point. If that is the case, pop round to mine instead, and I will get the kettle on.
The persona you create needs to be as appealing as possible to your intended audience, which is why even the most fun-loving of lawyers will want their firm to be represented by an authoritative, informed and professional voice (rather than a voice that is coming from a mouth that struggles to talk with so much of its tongue tucked into its cheek). Likewise, if your target audience is comprised of those individuals distracted by the slightest hint of a cute animal video (like so many of us are), then you will want to adjust your approach accordingly to ensure you can appeal to their pervading sense of whimsy and fun.
Finding your voice
If you are still not sure what your voice should be, take the time to think about how you want your company to be perceived. Brainstorm/mind map the things that make your business unique, focussing on how your company feels and how you want your customers to see you. From here, consider brands or even people that embody that persona and try to understand how they communicate. For example, if your best friend is the guy constantly surrounded by young mums, it may be his voice you want to use when you promote your line of baby products.
Whether it is a waggish writer’s highly-personal style that appeals or whether your tech firm wants to revel in its geekery, the key to finding your voice will always be to understand your audience and what attracts it the most.
What to say
What you say will still be as important as how you say it. If your demographic consists predominantly of experts in a given field then you will not want to insult their intelligence by including detailed information about simple concepts, no matter how open and friendly you are hoping to come across. Understanding what your customers want from you will be crucial when it comes to choosing the words and phrases that will be most appropriate.
Don’t try too hard
Once you have found the right voice, be sure not to let it turn into a monster. If your voice is one that is cheeky or impish, be sure not to let this become offensive or overly irreverent. It can also be a very short step from ‘authoritative and knowledgeable’ to ‘stuffy and boring,’ so whilst experimentation may help your voice to successfully evolve, be sure you know where to draw the line. The good news is that your voice will develop and improve over time as you see which communications get the most positive response.
Once you know what to say and how to say it, draw up a few guidelines to ensure consistency, and to help you make sure that the principles you establish can be easily followed by all employees engaged in communicative, marketing roles. There will be a thousand different ways to be ‘quirky and approachable,’ and without clear guidelines your content is likely to end up wildly inconsistent.
Finally, once all this is done, you can put your feet up for a while and have that nice cup of tea.