how to create a brand voice
Your brand voice is the collective result of the words, values, attitude and tone conveyed to customers. The brand voice helps the audience grasp a company's personality and what it offers. Try implementing the following six tips to create a strong brand voice.
1. Know the Proper Tone for Your Audience
The tone you use for your brand voice differs depending on what you sell, the people in your target audience and what those individuals expect you to offer. Trader Joe's is a specialty grocer that emphasizes helping people have lighthearted experiences when they stock up on essentials. For example, team members wear Hawaiian shirts, and the store has one of the most liberal return policies in the business.
Trader Joe's follows a customer-focused business model meaning they try all the products in their store before deciding to give their seal of approval and sell the items. If you later aren't happy with your purchase, you can return it to a store for a full refund.
So, it's not surprising that the brand's voice is similarly lighthearted. It comes across as if the store is a long-time friend talking to you.
Check out the language the brand uses when discussing a relatively common snack — banana chips. The copy uses phrases like "It's your lucky day" and "We don't monkey around with value." It even references the pop song "Hollaback Girl" by Gwen Stefani.
But, Trader Joe's doesn't let the casual tone overshadow the need-to-know specifics. The product description reveals the snack's origin and the preparation method, plus gives tips for how to enjoy them.
You can emulate this approach by doing careful and in-depth research about the tone that will most resonate with your audience. This one works for Trader Joe's, but it would likely cause confusion and perhaps even mistrust if the grocery brand's target audience were business executives.
2. Make a Brand Voice Chart
When it comes to successfully branding your startup, you have to tackle designing a logo, choosing a method, determining what sets your brand apart from others and more. It's also useful to develop a style guide so your content creators or anyone else involved in promoting your brand voice will have a framework to follow.
Additionally, consider solidifying the characteristics of your brand voice by drawing up a brand voice chart. Start by choosing three brand voice characteristics. Then, use the chart to dig deeper into each one and clarify the things you should or should not do to make your brand voice apparent to the audience.
For example, if authenticity is one of your brand voice aims, you don't want to over promise things. And, if you're going to have a fun brand voice, you might pledge to take product quality seriously but not come across in an extremely uptight way. That way, there's no imbalance between the ideals of your brand voice and what the audience notices through any outward displays of a brand voice.
3. Figure Out What Your Audience Wants
Your brand voice should appeal to the audience by speaking to what it wants. Those things differ depending on the type of products you sell. If your primary focus is dog food, people probably want something high-quality and affordable, plus available in different formulations that support a canine as it progresses through life.
Keep in mind that once you know what your audience wants, you can further the brand voice online as well as offline. One way to get your offline audience interested is to spread the word about your brand voice through a vehicle wrap. For example, a vehicle wrap for a cleaning service might mention that the provider offers accessible, detail-oriented service throughout the state or country.
Merry Maids is a well-known cleaning provider that clearly understands the needs of its audience and conveys that knowledge on the company website. It says that the services are "thorough, consistent and customized" — which arguably meets almost all the needs of most users. Plus, the brand voice goes into more detail by asserting that the company is "happy to fulfill every request in order to exceed your expectations."
If a person wants to hire a house cleaner, knowing that the person will take stated needs into account matters because it helps a person have peace of mind. Then, going back to the vehicle wrap example, it's one that Merry Maids uses for the automobiles in its fleet. Some of them feature the "Relax. It's done." tagline you may have noticed in the website header.
Take inspiration from Merry Maids and ensure that your brand voice reflects the hopes of your audience and makes them feel they can trust you.
4. Ask Outsiders How They Feel About Your Brand
One of the issues with only getting internal opinions about your brand voice is that you could get trapped into a kind of echo chamber and don't get the opportunity to hear contrasting or contradictory views. You probably noticed this first-hand outside of the scope of your business. Have you ever brought a friend along to help you buy an outfit for an important occasion? If so, it's because you recognize the value of external feedback.
Analysts say even though marketers have countless innovative ways to gather data from the marketplace they still depend on focus groups. You could hold a focus group and encourage participants to chime in to say the words that come to mind when they think about your brand.
Then, if discrepancies exist between what you think your brand voice says and their interpretations, use what they say as a springboard for figuring out how to make improvements.
5. Speak to the Audience's Ideals
As mentioned earlier, an excellent brand voice takes a person's needs into account and highlights how a company can meet or exceed them. That's undoubtedly crucial, but it's sometimes necessary to take a broader approach by bringing ideals into the equation. Even the people who view themselves as doing well in life usually have things they're still working to achieve.
You can weave that reality into your brand voice. Sometimes, it's possible to do so with a sentence or two.
Look at the brand voice of Flying Tiger Copenhagen. It's a company that offers everything from measuring spoons for cooking to deodorant wipes to toss into your gym bag. And, the beauty is that everything is extremely reasonably priced. So, when the brand says "A richer life doesn't cost a fortune," that statement matches the enterprise's pledge to offer a rotating variety of products that suit shoppers' tight budgets.
And, "a richer life" is an ideal that's flexible enough to address most shoppers. After all, people define richness in many ways, not just concerning money, but experiences, relationships and satisfying achievements among many other descriptions.
When you develop or tweak a brand voice, think about the audience's hopes and dreams and how your brand voice could align with those things. But, do so in ways that won't attract unexpected criticism. If Flying Tiger only had ultra-expensive, upscale merchandise on its shelves, it couldn't keep the "doesn't cost a fortune" part of its message without causing scorn.
6. Show a Consistent Brand Voice to All Audience Segments
It's also essential to maintain consistency in your brand voice whether addressing customers, potential employees or any other group. Otherwise, any mismatch could cause unease and doubt.
JetBlue, the budget airline, does that particularly well when speaking to customers and job seekers. Notice how the language urges to inspire people about their future trips and think about the possibilities — even to the point of connecting the JetBlue credit card as something that could bring a person closer to their next excursion.
When the airline adjusts its content to people looking for work, it still capitalizes on the inspiration theme, and that element runs throughout its brand voice. Make sure you do the same and choose at least one characteristic — preferably more — which is undeniably visible to all audience groups.
A Brand Voice Pays Off
You can't formulate your brand voice overnight, but taking the time to create one equips you to reap the benefits. A strong voice sets audience expectations and should help your brand thrive in challenging and ever-changing landscapes.
Lexie is a graphic designer and UX strategist. She loves taking her goldendoodle on long runs and checking out local flea markets.
Visit her blog, Design Roastand follow her on Twitter @lexieludesigner
Back to Top