In order to survive in the increasingly competitive modern marketplace, any business, no matter the size or industry, needs to establish a strong and powerful brand voice. That’s because today, not only can consumers choose from a plethora of businesses similar to yours, but the quality of products and services is also normative. That makes it next to impossible to stand out in any way without a defined brand identity.
- Your brand voice will set you apart from competitors
- Help you establish a connection with your target audience
- Will be a vital component of your marketing strategy, helping connect all your efforts into a cohesive whole.
If you’re wondering where to start, you’re in the right place. Follow these 5 simple steps to ensure you establish a powerful brand voice and maintain it consistently.
1. Define your core values
Your brand voice, which you’ll be expressing on your website, copy, social media, and any other interaction with your audience, is actually a reflection of the values you represent as a business. In other words, defining your brand identity (and consequently the tone of voice you exhibit) starts with defining and reinforcing your beliefs.
How do you want your target audience to perceive you? How do you perceive yourself?
You can’t be just a business selling products X, Y, and Z.
Are you a fun-loving company? Is there an enticing story behind how and why your business was established? What do you believe in as a brand – is it maybe honesty, beauty, perseverance? What kind of a life and business philosophy suits you best? Which cause do you think is worth fighting for? Are you going to contribute to it as a company?
These are just a couple of example questions to get you thinking at the whiteboard.
The very first step is undoubtedly challenging, but asking the difficult questions is worth all the effort. Because when you find the answers to the key questions regarding your identity through a bit of “brand introspection”, you’ll have caught all the intangible aspects which form the distinct personality of your business. And with that, you can proceed to exhibit your brand voice with certainty and confidence.
2. Get to know your target audience
It’s important to understand that although your story and your philosophy are unique to you, you need to create a brand voice that can reflect your personality in a way that resonates well with your audience. Otherwise, your messaging won’t have the impact you’re going after, and your audience will be unintrigued, perhaps confused, and at worst, annoyed by the way you communicate with them.
A sound marketing strategy is based upon knowing your audience, and branding is a part of that. Define your buyer personas and get to know things such as:
- How does your target market communicate on social media? Are they very casual, do they voice their opinions strongly, which kinds of social media communities do they participate in?
- What are the major challenges of that particular demographic (for example, is your target market comprised of Millennials who are most likely dealing with student debt?)
- What are their most common interests and how does the majority spend their free time?
- Which brands and products are most popular among your target audience? etc.
This, however, is not meant to compromise your personality – on the contrary. It’s meant to help you communicate your personality more effectively. In order to be able to communicate your ideas to your audience, you need to know and understand them first. Plus, it means a lot to be relatable.
3. Create a style guide and stick to it
Once you’ve gone through the previous two steps and done some brainstorming, you’re all set to define a style guide. This guide will serve:
- social media managers
- customer service reps
- and practically anyone else within the company who will represent your brand in some way or shape.
A style guide is essentially a set of guidelines to help employees maintain a consistent and clear brand voice across all channels.
It includes everything from defining your brand logo and colors, the spelling in your content, your tone of voice (is it snarky, clever, kind?) to the type of language you use (will you be using industry jargon or causal language?).
In this step, you can look for inspiration on platforms such as DesignRush, which lets you filter-search branding companies and examine their profiles and portfolios. You can have a glimpse at how the pros integrate the visual aspects of a brand such as:
- logo design with its web copy
- social media
- other means of communication
– the point being that there’s a distinct personality and tone of voice that are consistent. And if you’re not up for the demanding task of creating a precise style guide, you can find a branding agency that suits your needs and budget to do the job for you.
4. Interact with your audience
- Replying to comments on social media
- Posting content
- Updating your status
- Participating in a niche community on social
- Replying to messages from your followers
- Addressing customer inquiries and reviews on any given channel
- Replying to comments underneath your blog posts
– these are all powerful and effective ways to push your brand voice.
This is something you need to be doing all the time. After all, a brand voice is maintained and cultivated persistently. It’s not something that’s meant to get you an instant boost in followers, click-through rates, or customers heading straight to your door. But by continuously interacting with your audience in a consistent manner – think of your company as one single person – you’re building recognition and credibility. The more you interact, the better. Make sure you monitor your social media accounts and track mentions of your brand so that you stay on top of everything. Don’t miss out on opportunities to interact with your audience and address their needs.
5. Find your stronghold
As we’ve mentioned, your brand identity and established brand voice will provide you with the much-needed consistency you need to integrate all your marketing efforts into an appealing whole. It’s only logical that some channels or strategies will give you a better chance to exhibit your voice than others.
For example, that could be your blog, where you have all the freedom and space to express your unique brand voice. But maybe you’ll find that Instagram Stories or the captions underneath your posts prove to be the places where your brand voice is highlighted the most. Or maybe, you feel the most authentic and expressive when you’re interacting with your audience in comments or replying to online reviews.
With a well-defined brand voice, you’ll soon settle into a channel that you find helps you best to push it and express it. Of course, you’ll still maintain consistency across all other channels, but this will be your stronghold – so use it to your best advantage. If responding to reviews is your thing, wow your customers with your personality and dedication in your replies. If you’re about the captions, channel all your effort to them. Find your stronghold and make yourself memorable on it.
Don’t forget one of the most important aspects of maintaining a powerful brand voice: express pride for your brand through it. After all, a brand is built on authentic beliefs and values. Once you establish which ones you represent, you surely don’t want to look uncertain and back down. Show confidence and show real authenticity – it makes for a convincing case on your part, and it helps audiences believe in you too.
Guest Blog written by Angelina Harper