What Brand Voice is and why it matters
In the age and era of Instagram and Pinterest, many are concerned about how a business looks visually, from fonts and colors to designs and marketing materials. At the same time, they tend to overlook the notion of Brand Voice: even though social media has been included in marketing efforts for years, even content managers underestimate the importance of brand voice, even if it’s becoming increasingly important as a way to stand apart from the crowd of digital noise.
You may not be familiar with the term, but you have certainly experienced it. The company that sells surfing gear adopts the vocabulary and attitude of surfers. Brands often embrace jargon and attitudes typical of specific demographics to better communicate with that target group. You can get away without having an identifiable brand voice, but it will limit your marketing potential.
What is a Brand Voice?
Consumers will invest more in brands when their emotional connection to the brand is more vital than their emotional connection to the brands whose content lacks inspiration, even if the latter has better financial performance. Ultimately, what matters is not what you think but how you feel about it. You can express your brand voice through various avenues such as email, websites, press releases and packaging design, ads, etc.
What exactly is the difference between voice and tone of voice?
Understanding how to convey your message in a way your audience will hear is also essential.
Voice: This describes how your company presents itself. It’s consistent and unchangeable.
Emotional tone: The emotional inflection used in your voice. It adapts to what’s suitable for the particular piece or message.
Your voice will remain consistent, but your tone may change depending on the context of your message. For example, a Facebook post about a fun sale will be more light-hearted than one about a company crisis.
Brand Voice Examples
You will see consistently funny, edgier, direct, and concise messaging used to develop Spotify’s branding voice.
For instance, take note of this video, which is an ad for Spotify from 2019, “Let the Song Play”:
You can see that Spotify doesn’t take itself seriously. The ad mocks people who get so emotionally invested in a song that they don’t resume their plans until the end of the song.
You’ll see a similarly branded voice on Spotify’s social channels. For example, on its Twitter account, the brand often posts about new music in a casual and friendly manner, like this tweet:
If I were to characterize Spotify’s brand voice as an individual, I would say she is witty, sarcastic, and current on today’s pop culture. You’ll see that the personality of Spotify’s communication channels plays out across all of its communication channels.
We can use Mailchimp’s Content style guide to derive meaningful information related to Mailchimp’s brand tone.
We want to educate our readers without patronizing or confusing our readers. “Using offbeat humor and a casual voice, we play with words to bring joy to their day-to-day lives… We don’t take ourselves too seriously.”
You can even hear Mailchimp’s brand voice shine through in the Style Guide. The brand consistently achieves an informal, conversational, direct, and playful voice in all its communications.
In this blog post, the company talks about various “highly unscience personas,” including the fainting goats, which links to a hilarious video. When startled, its muscles stiffen up, and it falls right down.
You can see from this example that you can evoke brand voice subtly yet effectively. If the goat were to become nervous, it would be frightened. The animal’s muscles constrict, and it faints; the writer would’ve evocated a voice more aligned with an academic journal than Mailchimp.
Skittles often publish hilarious social media posts that remove any promotional language from their positions, leaving you with a more straightforward message.
In the example above, the author made fun of his employer by using the hashtag (#) to make it appear like he was talking about something else.
The clever and original brand voice does excellent job-making prospects and customers believe they are talking to a naughty employee behind the scenes. Oh my gosh, I can’t think that they just posted. That fact keeps the content fresh and exciting.
In addition, the brand does a great job referencing popular culture references, like this “Mean Girls” reference, to highlight its youthful nature.
In this section, we’ll explore how to create your brand voice, which will help you communicate effectively with your audience.
What makes a brand voice so important?
Why should you care for your brand voice? You can indeed write whatever you want whenever you want, but it’s not always the best idea.
The digital landscape is competitive. It’s filled with content from brands and individuals, including bloggers, influencers, and even celebrities. Your visual content, logos, and product features alone will not be enough to make you stand out from the crowd. Your written content needs the same attention and consistency you would give to any other element of your brand presence.
You can stand out from the crowd by using a brand voice. In the Sprout social index™, the consumers surveyed gave reasons why some brands stood above others. Thirty-five percent said unique content, thirty-three percent said distinct personality, and thirty-two percent said compelling storytelling. Brand voice plays a vital role in all three of these aspects. Content is not just about photos and videos. It’s about the words you write, the images you create, and the videos you make. It includes words and graphics. It is essential to present yourself well to consumers. To understand why consumers unfollow brands, we need first to know how they follow brands. Forty-five percent (45%) of consumers cited irrelevant content as their primary reason. Posting content that does not match your brand’s perceived image can be one way of getting your followers to unfollow you.
Lastly, brand voice is essential because you want your brand name to be consistent and recognizable among your target audience. Brand awareness is successful when you can identify a company only by its content before seeing who posted it.
How do you build a succesfull Brand Voice?
There are several approaches to defining a brand voice, and they all rely on building a personification of the brand and then declining a voice. For example, creating a character from:
1) Brand Roots + Brand Target: when you need the Brand Voice to make your brand credible and relevant to your consumers and customers.
2) Brand Personality: when the Brand Voice needs to support the personality trait and establish the brand equity attributes.
3) Brand Promise: when the Brand Voice must focus on building a unique and relevant equity
The second – and final – step should convert those choices into a character, with examples of dos and donts. In particular, decline the character in terms of usage of:
- sub-cultural references
Finally, consistency drives Brand Salience, so a consistent tone of voice – not one that changes every six months – is essential.
What else would you add?
Each example is gold because these brands stood out based on achieving a genuine voice. I am a huge Skittles fan for the past 35 years. The candy tastes divine to me but the brand voice really makes the message hit home. From packaging, to commercials, to everything.
Hi Ryan, thanks for your comment. I am a big fan of Skitties’s brand work, a bit less of the product 😉