Confession: I am not a huge fan of the word "brand" or "branding" because it can mean different things to whoever is referring to it. You could mean color schemes, logos, brand values, etc. But one thing I've really noticed is that most businesses completely ignore their brand voice. Or they get it completely wrong because they don't understand it.
So let's talk about your brand voice and why you absolutely need one and why you can't just copy what everyone else is doing. [It doesn't work - TRUST ME]
A brand voice is exactly what it sounds like: its the voice of your brand, specifically online. It's your tone, your attitude, the way your brand comes across online through social media, content and in emails.
Your brand voice is hard to nail. But it's crucial to pay attention to because it's the best way to start standing out online and being seen among the competition. The marketplace is crowded. There are thousands of businesses, starts ups, brands and entrepreneurs trying to make a name for themselves. Many are selling similar products or services. We are sharing the same types of content. It is noisy online. And guess what? You can't just yell louder. You have to instead, find a way to be heard by your people.
That's why a brand voice is so essential because it's how you are heard and how you create space for yourself in the minds of your clients. Back in the day, we used to go to networking events. We would shake hands and people able to look people in the eyes. Or we were able to pick up a product, touch it, feel it, get a good idea of the quality. Whether we realized it or not, this was how we were forming opinions on a brand or business and whether or not we wanted to do business with them. We learned to trust our gut feelings by how a person or product looked, felt, sounded, listened or made us feel. We lost that ability when we started buying, selling and marketing more online. It means we created a marketplace with almost no barrier to entry but where we had fewer ways to get those "feelings" or connections to a brand.
Content, including blogs, videos, social media posts gives us to have a way to connect to our customers once again and make those powerful connections. This all makes developing your brand voice non-negotiable.
Now let's get down to the nitty gritty of your brand voice and how to come up with yours.
First let's look at these two very different companies from very different industries.
Chipotle, on the left, might be best known for their burritos but in the marketing world, they are known for their amazing branding and social media skills. They focus on humor. They sometimes push the boundaries. They are entertaining.
On the right side you have Hey, Sweet Pea, a boutique branding and coaching firm for creatives. I love Hey, Sweet Pea because they have their brand voice down. They focus more on inspiration, on acceptance. They teach and inspire and motivate.
These are very defined brand voices and they can't just switch. Hey, Sweet Pea can't start cracking jokes one day and Chipotle can't just start spouting inspirational messages. It wouldn't make sense. They took the time to mold and shape their brand voices. It has helped them to amass thousands of followers and loyal fans.
If you want to start focusing on crafting your brand voice, here are some things to keep in mind:
1. Your Audience
Who exactly are you talking to? Is it a younger audience? Or are they all working professionals? You're going to talk to teens differently than adults. Entrepreneurs have different mindsets than stay at home parents. Your audience is not everyone and you need to know who they are. Once you know who is in your audience, whether it's college students or CEOs of Fortune 500s, you need to know what is is important to them? And what are they looking for from you?
2. Your Brand Values
What is important to your brand? What are the values? MHM's are creativity, fun, curiosity, hard work, determination and honesty. Our goal is to make online marketing easy to understand and fun to implement for our clients. So our content is frequently educational (feeding our curiosity), straight to the point (because it's easier to be real and honest than nice and fake) and it has a healthy dose of jokes, popular topics and sarcasm, because I'm not a robot and if you have a conversation with me, you'll end up enjoying that level of fun, as well. What's important to your brand? Is it humor? Is it innovation? Is it being relatable? Get clear on your brand values and they will help translate into your brand and your branding.
3. Your Online Goals
I bring this all the time because IT MATTERS! Be picky about what you're doing online. Be clear about the bigger picture. Do you want to be a brand leader? Do you want to create community? Do you want to see leads improve? Do you want to see followers improve? Why are you online? What is the bigger strategy behind it? This helps shape your brand voice because it saves you from wasting time on things that don't matter for your brand. It helps give you a guide as to what type of content you should be sharing and how you should be connecting with your audience.
4. How Do You Want Your Audience To Feel?
Remember, the audience is the hero of this story, not you. So how do you want them to feel after interacting with your brand? Inspired? Supported? Amused? Energized? Base this around your brand values to help you figure this out! If you are having trouble, I suggest taking a brand archetype quiz to help your business determine the overarching archetype of your brand. This can help you see if you're more of a rebel, a jester or the everyman. Think of how a conversation with a teacher would go so much differently than that of a beloved coach or a best friend. The same goes for the different archetypes and brand voices.
Hopefully these questions will start to give you a better feel of your brand voice. This might take some time to get right but it's worth the effort! In the mean time, do an audit of your messages to see if you can find any themes. And remember, it's all about consistency so once you do feel like you have found a brand voice that's perfectly you, keep up with it and post often.
Want to master your brand message? Grab my free guide 3 Quick Tips for a Brand Message That Stands Out