Finding Your VoiceMar 25, 2022
3 Tips For Establishing Your Identity Through The Written Word
Whether you’re a solopreneur or the owner of a multinational corporation, making a conscious effort to establish your voice as part of your branding strategy is critical.
When it comes to branding, people tend to focus on logos, colour schemes, and fonts, while overlooking the importance of their voice.
While the visual factors mentioned above undoubtedly play a significant role in the way people perceive and interact with your brand, it’s your voice that defines the overarching personality of your company and sets the tone for your customer relationships.
What is your brand voice?
To put it simply, your brand voice is the personality and emotion that you inject into the written communication between you and your customers. It encompasses everything from the vocabulary and grammar that you use to the tone and style that you address your readers in.
For example, a travel blog aimed at digital nomads might opt to write in a light-hearted and quirky voice when creating their content, frequently using slang and resorting to humour every once in a while.
On the other hand, it would be strange if the company that you got your medical information from created their content with a dry sense of humour and an insincere tone. Let’s face it; nobody wants to find out they have a yeast infection from a doctor who gives out his diagnosis with a hint of sarcasm followed by a “dad joke.” The chances are that the company would lose trust and credibility pretty quickly. (Or who knows, maybe there’s a gap in the market for that sort of thing?)
With that said, it’s ultimately up to you how you craft your brand voice, and there really isn’t any right or wrong way of doing it. After all, we each have a different understanding of what would be deemed humorous and quirky, or formal and informal.
What you should always bear in mind though is that what some people consider to be a light-hearted joke might be taken as an outrageous offence to others. So as they say, you’d better know your audience.
Why is your voice important?
Does the writing style you use REALLY make that big of a difference when it comes down to it? Does your brand voice actually play a role in your company’s success, or can you just go about your day and write in any old style you want and see how it lands? Here are a few reasons why it really does matter:
It builds trust
Studies have shown that consumers are more likely to buy from companies with a unique voice as they are deemed to be more trustworthy. After all, people tend to do business with people they know, like, and trust.
So coming up with a writing style that resonates with your readers is a great way to build a closer relationship with potential buyers and establish credibility.
Consistency is key
Customers like consistency. They want to know who you are, what you stand for, and what to expect when purchasing your product or service. It’s for this reason that keeping your brand voice consistent across all channels is absolutely vital.
If your blog is serious, formal, and professional, but your social channels are filled with humorous memes and witty banter, customers will have a hard time making sense of your company identity.
If you keep your voice consistent across all your channels and in line with your other branding efforts, then your customers will feel as if they know you. The messages within your words will carry more weight.
A cheap and easy way to stand out from the crowd
Did you know there are around 600 million blogs in the world today? If you handed out one to every single person in North America, you’d still have 21 million left over - pretty crazy stuff.
Anyway, the point being that no matter what industry your business is in, you’re going to have competition - and a lot of it. One of the best ways to separate yourself from the pack is to develop a unique and easily recognisable voice that captures your readers’ attention.
Think of brands like Old Spice, Adult Swim, and MTV (back in the day). Their absurd and wild branding played a huge role in their success, so why not try and emulate this with your written content?
Three tips to keep in mind when establishing your voice
Now that you’re pumped up and ready to get to work designing your new brand voice, here are three tips to keep in mind when deciding on what route to take:
1 - Research within your niche
As you likely know, your niche is the specific part of the market that your company is situated in. When it comes to establishing an appropriate brand voice, the more clearly you can define your niche and the types of customers that fall within it, the better.
The primary reason for this is so that you can craft your brand voice with your audience in mind, considering what styles will resonate best and help you establish credibility within your industry. If you haven’t already, you should take the time to gather quantitative data on your customer base so you can assess their demographics and subsequently tailor your branding and marketing approach accordingly.
While you’re researching, it never hurts to conduct research on your competitors to see what type of branding strategy works for them. Check out some of the biggest names in your industry and see what kind of language they use to interact and engage with their customers. This isn’t to say that you should copy their exact style, but it should give you a benchmark for what works and what doesn’t.
2 - Be specific
As we mentioned earlier, consistency is key when it comes to branding. And while that may sound all well and good, actually putting this into practice can be quite tricky.
Unless you are a solopreneur, you probably have a bunch of different people handling the interactions between your company and its customers. Maybe you have one person working on a blog, another on Twitter, one on Instagram, and so forth. This can create inconsistencies within your branding unless you are very specific about your voice and how you want your employees to present themselves on those platforms.
To get around this, you must be precise about your voice. Ideally, you should be able to describe it in only a few words. It can be surprisingly powerful to write a brand voice chart with do’s and don’ts and a full description of each characteristic of their brand. For example:
DO: Speak authoritatively, act as leaders, use strong verbs, take active roles in discussions
DO NOT: Express uncertainty, use a passive voice.
DO: Be different and don’t be afraid to express yourself, introduce new concepts or different ideas, be more open to adopting contrary opinions.
DO NOT: Take it too far and cause offence, use too much slang or obscure references, be unprofessional.
DO: Come across as light-hearted and playful, have genuine interactions with customers,
DO NOT: Be too casual in serious situations, make fun of customers or insult anybody.
3 - Conduct a content audit
If you already have content out there on your blog or social channels, you should take some time to conduct an audit and inspect what has been working and what hasn’t.
Even if you haven’t put any actual thought into purposefully crafting your voice before, every piece of content you created will still have its own style and tone that you can analyse.
The best way to go about an audit is to pull up your analytics and highlight your best-performing pieces of content. These will be the ones with the highest numbers of views, shares, interactions and engagements. You may also want to find the pages or posts that bring you the highest ROI or the highest conversion rates.
Once you have your best performing content, look at the writing style and pay close attention to the language used and the personality of the text. If you notice the same things shining through on your best-performing pages, then that’s a pretty clear indication of what works with your audience.
Finding your voice is difficult, but the good news is that you don’t need to figure it out right away. Your voice and tone should evolve as your company grows, so don’t be afraid to make minor adjustments as you go along and try out new things with different audiences.