7 Steps to Defining Your Brand Voice

Brian Nuckols

Written by:
Brian Nuckols

Illustration of a man on a ladder adding a "My Brand" sticker to a cassette tape

Taking the time to define your brand voice is a great way to take your content to the next level. In this post, I’ve gathered seven of the best tips for defining your brand’s voice that you can implement today. 

In this post, we'll cover:

Let’s get started! 

 

What is Brand Voice?

The personality and emotion that go into your marketing and public facing communication is the essence of your brand voice.

Sometimes known as brand image or brand personality, examples of your brand voice include everything from the words to images. The brand voice plays a crucial role in helping your messages break through to your audience. 

Your brand voice represents how your brand will communicate with both future and existing customers. It’s a major contributing factor when it comes to how your messages are perceived. 

Additionally, your brand voice helps you express your company's values, brand story and unique personality. It both helps you select the proper words while also guiding your social media posts, email newsletters and website content. 

While it’s critical to define a unified brand voice, there are context-specific examples to consider.  

  • Your audience may have multiple customer archetypes or personas
  • There may be marketing channels that have specific messaging requirements or tactics.
  • The ultimate goal of each content piece can have different requirements. For example, an email to a busy journalist for PR purposes will look different than a long-form content marketing piece. 

However, your overall brand voice should be consistent and visible in all the content you create

You can easily document your brand voice and guidelines by using a template like the one below.

A blue and green, outer space-themed brand guidelines template available in Visme.
Customize this template and make it your own!Edit and Download

Let’s give another example to make the concept of a brand voice even more clear. 

Fundamentally, your brand voice is the unique personality characteristic evident in your  communications. 

Imagine a gathering with a group of friends. One friend is known for their gift of telling jokes. They have a unique style and way of talking that creates fun and memorable experiences for the people around them. 

When you reflect back on your memory of the time you spent together, it’s easy to have vivid memories of the stories they told. 

This is a good way to think about a successful brand voice. If your brand was a memorable person at a get together, what would it be like? What would be the interesting personality traits your brand takes on? 

Also, what are the consistent style choices you want to make with your content? Determine the phrases and language choices you can use to express that style. 

The above elements add up to the totality of your brand voice. Once you properly define it, you can apply the voice directly to everything from social media to internal communications using a brand guidelines template like the one below. 

A black and yellow brand guidelines template available in Visme.
Customize this template and make it your own!Edit and Download

Why is Brand Voice So Important? 

One of the primary benefits of a well executed brand voice is recognition. A strong brand voice means you don’t have to rely solely on logos and visuals to make an impact – you can also use your content to support your brand. 

This is why you should pay attention to your brand voice, and take a more intentional approach to the content and style you’re producing for your company. 

Frankly, the digital ecosystem we’re working in is crowded. Everyday both individuals and brands create content that’s vying for the attention of your audience. 

This makes it absolutely crucial to give your written content the same level of consistency that your visuals receive. 

One thing that long lasting companies have in common is their varying unique personalities. 

When you can deliver in a consistent style, you’ll establish a presence in your audience's memory as a recognizable brand.

Cultivating this recognition is a process that includes both repetition and consistency. It’s important to establish a strategy and stick with it, because each time you start over in a new direction, you’ll lose that recognition from your audience. 

A green, nature-themed brand guidelines template available in Visme.
Customize this template and make it your own!Edit and Download

There’s also research that supports the importance of creating a recognizable brand.

First, a dependable brand voice builds a connection with your audience. One survey showed that 60% of customers that followed a company on social media felt emotionally connected to the brand vs. 23% of customers that didn’t.

This is an important finding because it shows that an emotional connection with your audience can increase the likelihood that your audience will interact with you.

Trust is another huge benefit of establishing a brand voice. One study showed that 64% of customers referenced shared values as a primary reason to trust a company. 

For this reason, it’s a great strategy to build trust with your audience. Spending time building a reliable brand voice is a great first step towards this goal.

There’s also a number of practical reasons to create a noticeable brand voice. For one, it’s a great way to increase your revenue.

Researchers recently found that brands that invested in consistency increased their revenue by 23%.  Because of the link between consistency and increased revenue, it’s important to stay consistent across all the channels you’re using.

If the research we’ve reviewed has convinced you that it’s time to develop your own voice and you’re ready to take the next steps, Visme can help! Next, we’ll explore 7 tips on how you can get started defining your own brand voice today. 

In the meantime, if you’re curious about the basic steps you take to translate these ideas into your own brand voice, check out our short video on building beautiful documents – like brand guidelines – with Visme. 

 

7 Steps to Defining Your Brand Voice

Now that we’ve explored the what and why of brand voice, let’s dive into 7 practical ways you can define your own brand voice. 

Step 1: Understand Your Overarching Mission 

The first step to defining your brand voice is understanding your brand's overall mission for existing. The brand voice should fundamentally connect to your company's values. 

The best place to start when exploring your values or mission is to take a look at the company mission statement. If you have one, it’s important to make sure your brand voice is properly reflecting this mission to the world. 

If you haven’t had a chance to draft a mission statement yet, get started with this template below.

A Venn diagram-like template created in Visme with a purple background and three circles showcasing mission, values and vision of a company.
Customize this template and make it your own!Edit and Download

Step 2: Do an Audit to Determine Your Current Voice

Our next step for creating a brand voice involves auditing your existing content. Looking at what you’re currently creating is a great approach to discovering more information about the type of content that works for your audience. 

When you’re auditing your existing content, make sure to look at examples from across your organization from public facing content to internal documents. 

Oftentimes, the brand voice may seem inconsistent due to having many different writers and a lack of a unified plan. 

However, if you can pay attention to how your audience is interacting with posts, you can discover the seeds of a more intentional brand voice. 

When it comes to your highest performing pieces, what do they have in common? Are there any topics, word choices or other traits that they share? If so, you can hone in on these elements and make them central components of your brand’s voice. 

You can easily add a list of these personality traits into your brand guidelines using a template like the one below.

A purple brand guidelines template available in Visme.
Customize this template and make it your own!Edit and Download

Step 3: Survey Your Audience 

Another step you can take to define your brand voice is to seek an outside perspective. Specifically, surveying your audience is a great way to understand how your existing content is resonating. 

To do this, create a short survey that asks your audience about how they experience your content. You can ask simple questions like the following: 

  1. If you had to describe our brand in 3 words, what would they be? 
  2. When you think of our company’s content, what traits or characteristics come to mind?
  3. How would you describe the tone of voice we use in our content? 

To create a poll, use a service like Google Forms or Survey Monkey. Then, you can utilize your email list and social media to share the survey with your followers. Incentives like gift cards or discounts are a great way to increase participation.

Additionally, you can use the same survey with a smaller sample of your oldest or best customers to understand how your brand voice is perceived. 

Take advantage of one of our survey results report templates like the one below to help you visualize your results and analyze what they mean for your brand voice.

A black, blue and pink template created in Visme to help businesses use data widgets to visualize survey results.
Customize this template and make it your own!Edit and Download

Step 4: Create a Brand Style Guide 

Whether you’re a single party creating content, working with a small team or part of a larger organization, creating a style guide is a great way to establish a unified brand voice. 

Providing a clear set of guidelines that you and your teammates can refer to is a helpful step towards staying consistent with your content. 

There are many benefits to having this consistent and clear brand style guide.  

First, it helps make sure that all of your public facing content assets are sharing a singular strategy. Also, it helps you maintain the content standards you want to reach in each piece of content that you publish.

For smaller organizations, simplicity can be the right approach when it comes to a brand style guide. Sometimes a one-page document with some overarching principles is enough. 

However, as your organization grows in scope, it’s helpful to create a more expansive guide that lives as a digital file or presentation. 

When you take the time to invest in your brand style guide, everyone from the marketing team to executives will understand how to create content that’s aligned with your brand’s digital identity.

Ultimately, your style guide should include the most important information about your brand. You can add everything from the preferred fonts, the logo, the mission statement and other digital assets. 

Brand style guides are also helpful as part of the new employee onboarding process. A style guide is a fantastic way to initiate your new employee into the culture of your company. 

When a new employee comes on board to join your company, the first thing they should see is your guide.

You can use the brand style guide to highlight your company’s most important values and mission statement. By doing so you set the tone for your company’s content and help to establish a consistent brand voice. 

If you’re ready to create a brand style guide, Visme can help. Check out our guide to creating your own brand style guide.

A red and orange brand guidelines presentation template available in Visme.
Customize this template and make it your own!Edit and Download

Step 5: Understand Your Audience’s Preferences 

The next step to establishing a brand voice is to understand your audience's preferences. It’s important to determine their favorite media channels and how they prefer to communicate.

Ultimately, this research process will help align your values and mission with a tone of voice that makes sense on a channel to channel basis

For example, a business to business software vendor may make specific choices about their content to find success on LinkedIn. Conversely, a nonprofit that shares updates on Facebook about the success of a recent initiative may make different choices. 

To understand what your audience prefers, it’s a good idea to check out the types of conversations they’re having online. For example, you can explore the resources and brands your best customers follow online.

If possible, try to discover the most successful and authoritative content your audience discusses and shares on social media. 

Step 6: Study How Your Audience Talks Online

Now that we’ve explored the types of content your audience is reading online, it’s time to take it to the next level in step 6. 

What we’re hoping to understand here is how this content impacts your audience online. What kind of conversations are they having about the content that sparks their interest? 

While you’re doing this, try to pay attention in a detailed way about how they’re talking about this content. What do they seem to like and dislike about the content they’re sharing? How does this relate to your unique values and brand traits? 

Becoming involved in the discussions your audience cares about is a great way to create a sense of belonging, community and an increased recognition for your brand voice. 

If your audience feels that your content authentically mirrors their concerns, it will become far more relatable. Ultimately, this will lead to more engagement and revenue. 

On the most fundamental level, it’s important to develop a sense of empathy in this step. By understanding your audience's unique voice, you can align your content with the conversations that matter to them the most. 

Step 7:  Identify Your Brand's Unique Tone 

In the 7th – and final – step for cultivating a unique brand voice we’re exploring the concept of tone, or how you communicate messages to your audience via content. 

While as a whole, a brand voice is fundamentally a consistent strategy that’s maintained throughout your content, tone can have more flexibility. 

For example, if you’re launching a new product or announcing a new team member, a more excited tone is more likely. However, a customer service interaction on social media might be more straightforward and clear. 

While there can be some variance on tone, it’s still important to document the options and how they relate to your unified brand voice. 

For example, you can add guidelines for how to approach media statements, announce new offerings and welcome new team members. 

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Start Defining Your Brand Voice Today 

Your brand voice is an essential part of your overall branding and can’t be ignored. While your visual brand helps increase immediate brand recognition, a consistent voice helps you to create more genuine connections with your audience. 

If you’re ready to take your content to new heights and start making more authentic connections with your audience, get started with Visme today.

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About the Author

Brian Nuckols is a writer working in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He enjoys communicating visionary ideas in clear, action oriented language. When he’s not working on content for a transformative company you can find him analyzing dreams, creating music, and writing poetry.

4 responses to “7 Steps to Defining Your Brand Voice”

  1. Dani says:

    Thanks for this post! We have included your article in our weekly roundups over on our blog. Take a look as we have featured your piece this week!

    http://librisblog.photoshelter.com/visual-storytelling-roundup-content-marketing-statistics-snapchat-more/

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