“Engaging people makes loyal audiences. Loyal audiences make people think about your brand. People who think about your brand in a time of need are going to look to you for answers. That’s the connection and flow.”—David Ebner
You’re not alone if you think that a brand identity is just a logo and a color palette slapped onto a website. If you suspect there’s more to branding than that—you’re right. Brand voice, tone, messaging, marketing language, point of view—your brand needs to have the entire package. The verbal identity—what a customer hears, reads, and feels as a result of your brand—is essential to create a strong connection between your brand and your audience.
Think: “We Can Do It!” or “Snap! Crackle! Pop!” These taglines are on different ends of the emotional spectrum, but each has a voice so strong that they immediately cause connection—whether you emotionally travel to the political urgency of WWII or nostalgic days of breakfast cereal, you’re undoubtedly on a journey. This is the power of storytelling. It takes you places.
And connecting with your audience isn’t just about feeling good, it’s about money. “When customers feel connected to brands, more than half of consumers (57%) will increase their spending with that brand and 76% will buy from them over a competitor.” (source)
A strong brand voice is vital. How do you build a brand voice that emotionally resonates with your audience? This is where storytelling comes in. To create connections, share emotional experiences and make your audience the hero of your brand’s story—this is key for a strong brand voice. “Good brand storytelling turns boring into brave.”
Understand Your Brand Voice
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” —Maya Angelou
Most brands would be the first to admit that they would rather have the emotional connection of a customer over logo loyalty any day. To develop your brand voice is to invest in that very connection.
A brand’s voice is its personality and can be defined by certain traits. Use these traits when creating content, communications, and marketing materials for your brand. Create definitive assets like a tagline, mission, vision, values, differentiators, and more to use as a roadmap every step of the way. Not only will this ensure brand consistency and encourage brand recognition, but it will also save valuable time when you create advertising, merchandise, press releases, sales materials, and any internal or external communications.
How to Craft a Bold Brand Voice
Out of 547 business people surveyed, each who spends about 25.5 hours per week reading for work, 81% agree that poor writing wastes time. (source)
Your brand voice is an extension of your brand identity, where your brand values, aspirations, headlines, and forward-facing communications come together. It tells your brand story.
It can be helpful to think of your brand as a character. Give your brand character traits that your brand holds dear. If one of your brand values is transparency, your brand voice is 100% honest. If one of your brand values is to be customer service oriented, your brand voice speaks in a friendly, welcoming tone of voice. You build a clear brand voice into your brand guidelines. These rules can be followed across all platforms, externally and internally.
- First, analyze the needs, pain points, and insights of your target personas. These are the different audiences you serve. Do you sell to other companies and also individuals? You’ll probably want to alter your tone of voice slightly for each one of those personas.
- Audit your current brand for impact and consistency. Are you telling the same story? What reasons are you telling that story? Do these stories align with your company’s values? Are they getting you closer to your vision?
- How will you set yourself apart from your competitors? What are your differentiators or value propositions? Look at your competitors and determine exactly how you are different from them. Are you women-founded? Do you operate a carbon-neutral company? Have you been an expert for two decades longer?
- Build a message map. This can be a simple spreadsheet. It clearly states how exactly your message will change for each target persona in each instance. Then, you can copy and paste the language when needed.
- Define, Refine, Iterate. As your brand evolves, so should your brand voice. Don’t be afraid to develop it time and time again. This keeps you bold and relevant.
- Is all of this sending your head spinning? Understood. More people than not are overwhelmed at the idea of writing for their own companies. Try hiring a content marketing agency or content writer. It will save you time and money in the long run.
Good Storytelling Gets Attention: It Can Even Keep Us Up at Night
There’s a lot of noise out there. As a brand, it’s your goal to cut through that noise and make real connections. It’s not easy, but it’s possible.
As humans, we’ve evolved faster than even we can keep up with. This means that our brains, already complex, are still works in progress. One way in which we’re behind on evolution is the frequency in which we feel that our lives are in danger. Although most of us aren’t hunting for survival or sleeping near predators, our brains are ready to save us.
This area of the brain that helps us survive can be activated by a jump scare in a horror movie. Let’s consider The Shining. That’s right, the 1980 horror movie, starring Jack Nicholson and co-starring those terrifying twins. (Shiver.) Even though we’re 100% certain that Jack is not going to get us in the cold Colorado hedge maze, we actively feel what Wendy Torrance might feel. It’s not good, is it? “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” As a phrase by itself—this is not scary! It’s downright silly! But once our survival switch is flipped, it creates a permanent mental connection to fear and it keeps our attention. It still has our attention 45 years later!
In these life-or-death moments—even just ones we see on screen that have nothing to do with our physical selves—the area in our brain that forms connections between our own self and another is activated. This is the foundation for connections. This is the power of voice.
Now, it’s not necessary to terrify your audience—unless you’re that sort of brand —but it is necessary to capture your audience’s attention and, to do that, you need a strong voice.
Looking for help with your brand voice? Partner with Content Workshop today.