Have you ever come across a Tweet from a brand that made you cringe because it seemed totally out of character from them? This is usually what I picture when that happens:
Whether your company is established, or just launching, finding the right brand voice and maintaining it is an important building block for your communications strategy. Just as your logo and company colours can become synonymous with your brand, the ‘voice’ you choose can quickly become associated with it as well.
Before you can establish your voice, you need to perform an audit of the messaging you’ve already put out. Review the content/messaging you shared, the comments on your posts (if any), how sales were during this time period, etc. Was it effective? How did your stakeholders respond? If you notice that a certain type of messaging or voice is working for your brand and creating good dialogue with your customers, use this as a starting point for creating your brand voice. If your messaging is not delivering the response you’re looking for, it may be time to shake things up.
Determining a brand’s voice can help convey the personality that you have identified for your brand. Is your brand formal? Informal? Playful? Sincere? Positive? The choice of your brand voice can also be obvious sometimes depending on your industry or audience. For example, a multinational bank may choose to use a formal voice in all of their communications, while a children’s clothing brand can be more playful. However, choosing an uncommon voice for your brand is not necessarily a bad thing. When done right, it could be a good differentiator against your competitors.
To make sure your company stands out, you need to establish your differentiator. What sets your company apart? What do you do differently? You also need to consider what the purpose of your messaging is and how you want your stakeholders to respond. Collaborate with your client-facing and front-facing staff to learn more about what people like about your company. Remember to maintain authenticity throughout this process, as it is often easy to pick out brands that are trying too hard with their messaging. Also, resist the urge to copy whatever your competitor is doing. This is a reactive strategy that almost always falls flat with customers.
Having a consistent voice can also help establish the authenticity of your brand. In the age of social media and content marketing, brands are expected to have a presence on multiple online platforms. While each platform may need a specific tone of voice (that is, the tone for a post that has been written for Twitter may not work for LinkedIn or an entire white paper), care must be taken to make sure that the voice and key message are consistent throughout these audience touchpoints. This can be tricky if you have multiple people writing content for multiple platforms. Ensure your content creators know the tone your brand should be using and are editing each others’ work.
One example of a brand that is consistent with their brand voice is ATB, right here in our home province of Alberta. Although ATB is a financial institution that has the same offerings as other banks, its brand voice is down-to-earth, approachable, and helpful. Other banks try to have the same approach, especially with their consumer offerings, but ATB has maintained this same brand voice throughout both their consumer and business offerings. On all of their marketing communications, ATB has used this same approach to attract new customers as well as reach out to their existing customers. Because they only operate in Alberta, ATB has leveraged their company identity to create a brand voice that is more personal than that of their competitors. This is really evident in their commercials which feature Chief Transformation Officer Wellington Holbrook himself speaking on behalf of the institution directly to Albertans. Their choice of language is also consistent, and always along the lines of “We are here to help you” and “We support Albertans.”
Mailchimp is another example of a company with a great brand voice. Their messaging is always quirky, friendly, and most importantly, consistent. They’ve incorporated their logo, the beloved chimp, into much of their content,which they have to establish a voice that is memorable and They are a communications tool that emanates a friendly and approachable voice and brand. Regardless if they are working with small companies or large organizations, their approach stays the same but because their brand is authentic, it is welcomed by their clients.
At The Agency, we’ve established our differentiator to be the fact that we “speak geek”. We pride ourselves on our ability to understand and translate technical terms for use in communication programs. We also allow our “geeky” personality to shine through in our messaging because it aligns with our brand.
Just remember that establishing your brand voice can take time and continuous auditing. Pay attention to how your stakeholders are responding and adapt as needed. And always keep in mind what you are trying to accomplish with your voice, regardless of which platform you convey it on.
Do you have any other tips for establishing your brand’s voice? Share them with us in the comments below, or Tweet them to us @PRTheAgency.