When you’re creating the brand blocks of your small business, your brand voice, or tone of voice as it’s also known, can be confusing. How important is it really? And why isn’t the way you would naturally write good enough? Well, let’s start with the basics…
I prefer to talk about ‘brand voice’ because we’re talking about the voice of your brand. As part of your voice, you have different tones that you would tap into, according to the situation. For example, if you’re sharing a serious email about a shift in business operations or, conversely, celebrating your first major business win with a few clinks of champagne emojis on social media.
To understand this idea better, just think of your relationship with someone close to you. Consider a time when they were excited and then a time, perhaps when they were feeling disappointed. How did they talk about it? The person is the same and you would probably still be able to recognise their ‘brand voice’ even if you weren’t looking at them. It’s only their tone that is different, according to what’s going on in their life.
In business, your tone will change depending on whether you’re sharing formal communications, connecting with your community casually on social media or sharing your products and services on your website BUT your brand voice will remain the same.
Why it's important.
In order to drive your sales, you need to create emotional connections with your ideal customers. Your brand voice is the first real opportunity you have to create this emotional connection. That’s because, HOW we say things is usually more important and influential than what we say. So, if you’re speaking to your ideal customers in a way that reflects the way they speak and makes them feel like you’re the business that meets all of their worrying needs, then they’re more likely to engage with your brand and ultimately make that purchase.
A strong and consistent brand voice will help you carve out your own space in the crowded market and stand out from your competitors. And as people become more familiar with the way you sound, your brand recognition will also grow in a way that will drive trust in your business.
How to create a memorable brand voice.
So, how do you create a strong brand voice that emotionally connects with your ideal customer?
All strong brand voices are informed by your brand foundations and specifically, three main brand elements: your brand persona, your values and an understanding of your ideal customer. As your business grows, these three elements should always remain the same. Even if you release new products and services to appeal to a new type of customer, these customer profiles should be in addition to the ideal customer profiles you create for your core business. As a result, your brand voice also does not change.
I’ve explained the three brand elements in more detail below:
01/ Your brand persona
The personification of your business. When you consider your persona, think about the way a person walks, talks, behaves, the values they hold, their energy and choose the personality that most accurately reflects your brand. Having a brand persona helps to better understand what brand voice would fit your business.
02/ Your values
Your guiding principles. These are the principles that are key to how you do business and will hugely impact your voice. For example, if one of your values surrounds education, one tonal aspect of your brand voice might be ‘empathetic,’ since people learn better when things are made more relatable for them.
03/ An understanding of your ideal customer
When I carry out my Brand Voice workshop with clients, one of the exercises I do with them is to encourage them to understand how customers feel after they have visited, and found everything they are looking for, on their website. Often words like, ‘excited,’ ‘relieved’ and ‘reassured’ come up. So, naturally, the next question is:
"HOW are you going to write in order to make them feel this way?"
When you understand the needs and, importantly, the feelings of your ideal customer, then you will know exactly how you can communicate with them to create an emotional connection that unlock hearts and drive your sales.
Why using your personal voice isn’t a good idea.
Many people leave the task of creating their brand voice off the to-do list, citing their own personal voice as good enough for their business. While you may think it’s a great idea and will connect with your customers because it’s ‘authentic,’ there are a few reasons why your personal voice isn’t up to the job.
01/ Because your mood will change.
You won’t always have a great day. And sometimes you’ll have such a great day that you will hardly be able to contain yourself. If you use your personal voice, your writing will always reflect these changes in mood. One will be full of exclamations and long sentences, while the other will likely be short and abrupt. This can really impact the strength of your connection with your ideal customers. Changes in your voice creates inconsistency and inconsistency is the enemy of a strong brand. When your voice becomes unpredictable, it creates mistrust, not only in what you’re saying but also the credibility of your business as a whole, discouraging people from investing in what you’ve got to offer.
02/ There’s no one quite like you.
This is usually a positive. But when you’re writing for your ideal customers, it’s a big thumbs down. Have more than one person on your team? If you’re both writing content in your individual voices then again, your brand will be marked by inconsistency. Sometimes, especially, on a blog, it can be a nice personal touch to have team members share their own voice, but this only works when their core channels i.e. the rest of their website and offline/ online marketing collateral is written in a single, unified brand voice. If your brand voice is inconsistent through and through, then your ideal customers will step away because you’ll always feel unfamiliar.
03/ Your voice is not informed by your brand foundations.
Remember those three brand elements that inform every strong brand voice? They’re not considered here. Of course, while you’re unlikely to directly oppose your brand values or speak in a way that repels your ideal customers, the difference in a CRAFTED brand voice that is specifically created to emotionally connect with your ideal customers and your personal voice, which will only catch the hearts of a few, is something that will most clearly be reflected in your bottom line.
So, now you know what a brand voice is all about, what’s yours? Let me know where you are in the process of creating your voice. Is it something you’ve left on the back burner or have you got your nailed? Setting up a business is a thing that’s scary and exciting in equal parts and there’s so much to do that it’s worth speaking to people who can help you with those things that aren’t really your bag.