Branding is an accumulation of many different marketing and design elements, yet one is sometimes missed out. Zoe explains how defining your brand’s voice really can make all the difference.
What is a brand voice?
I started right at the top and researched the word ‘voice’. No matter where I looked, the term ‘expression’ was always close by. In relation to branding, ‘expression’ is key for brands to communicate their unique voice to their audience. They need to be expressive through words.
Whether it’s ‘tone of voice’, ‘brand language’ or ‘brand voice’, it’s the expression to communicate through words, the expression to reflect a brand’s unique personality.
I came across two useful statements that help describe a ‘voice’ in branding:
“Brand voice is the purposeful, consistent expression of a brand through words and prose styles that engage and motivate. The personality of your brand is determined, in large measure, by the words you use and the sentences you write.”
“A tone of voice is not what you say, but how you say it. This encompasses not only the words you choose, but their order, rhythm and pace.” (via larsen.com)
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It becomes clear that whether it’s ‘brand voice’, ‘brand language’ or ‘tone of voice’, their descriptives overlap; they all use a voice to engage and express a brand’s personality, not with what you say, but how you say it. When used right, a brand’s voice is an extremely powerful tool as it shapes thoughts, perceptions and behaviours.
It’s everywhere: social, emails and general conversations. It touches each and every brand touchpoint and must be consistent to the values and personality of the brand.
“How crazy would it be if every time you saw a particular brand they changed their logo, or colour. Why is it acceptable with language?”
– Al Hussain, Senior Strategist at Verbal Identity, speaking at Transform Conference Europe.
Why is a brand’s voice important?
Let’s face it, when it comes to branding, logos, fonts and colours are seen as the key visual elements. They give an instant impression of the brand, which is reinforced and made more familiar each time we see them.
Sadly, it’s the brand voice that accompany those visuals that are often forgotten. Whether it’s beautiful visuals let down by poorly-written copy, or crafted websites ladened with too much waffle, opportunities to add the all important personality are being missed.
There needs to be an understanding that a brand voice isn’t just about communication, but the manner in which the words are spoken. After all, how you converse with customers says a lot about your brand’s attitudes and beliefs.
Say it right
When honing a brand’s voice it is key to think about the building blocks of a brand’s personality – is it playful, cheeky or fun? Maybe it’s personal, inspiring, or straightforward? Then there is vocabulary. Is it plain and simple, or rich and poetic? What about the rhythm and pace of the wording? Short, quippy sentences can make for a humorous tone, whereas long, intricate ones can make for a more serious tone.
I believe every brand should have their own speech pattern, a way for consumers to consciously (or subconsciously) ‘hear’ the brand.
Making a difference
During research, I came across an interesting study by Wunderman. The study suggested that 1 in 3 consumers feel it is important for brands to show they care as it makes them feel more connected to the brand. With language being such a powerful tool, it is no surprise that a quarter of consumers said it helps them to justify their purchase.
In addition, it is key for brands to take on cultural nuances, social mentions and research to further develop their understanding of their audience, allowing brands to express themselves seamlessly through language.
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