You’ve worked hard to build your brand and grow your customer base. So how do you keep all of your fans happy while ever-expanding your brand’s reach? A key element to success for any business is to stand out from the crowd. There’s no better way to do that than to establish a strong brand voice – and then to be consistent with it.
A brand voice isn’t that different from your voice as a human. Everyone in the world has a different tone, timbre, and style of communication. In the same way, your brand’s voice should be unique when you’re speaking to your customers. Your goal is to create an emotional connection with them that fosters loyalty. You can achieve this by creating a distinct and memorable identity that differentiates you from competitors, builds trust, and evokes brand recognition. An authentic and consistent voice that accurately conveys your brand’s values can drive sales and conversions by attracting customers and resonating with your target audience.
Again, consistency is key here. Brands that master maintaining a consistent voice across channels, platforms, and other touchpoints create a sense of familiarity and reliability for their audience. Your logo, for instance, should be one that speaks to your customers, and is memorable to them – but it doesn’t stop there. By delivering consistent messages in a distinct voice, you can establish a strong presence in the minds of consumers, which in turn results in brand recall and recognition. More importantly, a consistent voice builds on itself in terms of trust and loyalty. Your customers will come to rely on your brand’s dependable delivery of quality, values, and promises.
“Think about your best relationships,” says Eric Berrios, a brand strategist in Atlanta. “Those are likely the ones where you can count on a person to show up on time, or maybe split the bill with you. It’s a consistent relationship that you can start to build expectations on. Your brand’s relationship with your customers is the same. It’s so much stronger when they know you will deliver on their expectations.”
Finding Your Voice
A strong and consistent brand voice tells a relatable story. Customers are more likely to engage with a brand that can speak their language, understands their needs, and addresses their pain points. Your story is what differentiates you from other brands, even if you are offering similar products.
“Developing your brand’s voice allows you to converge on common themes that allows everyone within the organization to be focused on delivering the same message,” says Berrios. “Basically, you’re amplifying and leveraging the hard work you did in the beginning of developing the brand. If you don’t maintain a consistent brand voice, you’re letting your fields go fallow.”
So how do you most effectively maintain consistency of brand voice and tell a story that will resonate with your customers? First of all, you want to aim for clarity and coherence. A muffled message, no matter its intentions, will result in confusion for your potential customers. If they can’t understand what your brand is about, they will likely look elsewhere.
Making the Connection
Once you have the audience’s attention, you should work to make an emotional connection with them. Ideally, you want your brand to evoke specific feelings that align with your customers’ values and aspirations. An emotional connection is priceless in cultivating a sense of loyalty and affinity toward your brand. This, in turn, can make your customers into brand advocates and ambassadors. They’ll share their positive experiences with others and may even become word-of-mouth marketers for you!
Accomplishing all of this is easier than done, of course. But there are certain things you can do to make sure you establish a compelling and consistent brand voice. The first and perhaps most important is to “know thyself.” You should have clearly established core values and a mission for your brand. Once you have a good sense of who you are, you’ll want to define and hear from your target audience. You can achieve this a number of ways, but you probably don’t want to underestimate the power of market and audience research, and creating buyer personas that truly give you a sense of your best opportunities to connect with customers.
When you’ve nailed that down, it’s time to look inward. You’ve figured out what your story is – now you need to make sure it’s being shared correctly and consistently. One thing that can be a tremendous help is developing voice guidelines. This can cover things like tone, language, vocabulary, and style. These things can then be applied to all of your communications across all channels.
“As the number of people speaking on behalf of your brand grows, the tendency is that your voice and message gets skewed,” Berrios says. “It’s not totally preventable, but it does help to have rails in place.”
It can be super-helpful to create a content style guide that codifies your brand’s voice. This can provide guidance to your team – especially those in customer-facing roles – so that they can keep the brand’s voice consistent. It can also be useful to centralize your communications so that there’s oversight in creating and approving content, ensuring that your voice is consistent across all channels and platforms.
Telling Your Story
Once you have those basics down, it’s time to tell your story. Storytelling is a way of weaving narratives around your brand’s history, mission, and values to create a unique identity for your brand that is memorable and resonates with your target audience. It can forge a sense of connection with your audience that strengthens brand loyalty and sets you apart in a competitive environment. Customers will associate your story with your brand, which builds trust and enhances brand recall and recognition.
“Storytelling is endemic to humans going back to fireside chats, it goes back to tribal lore,” says Berrios. “Stories offer protagonists and antagonists and challenges that people can remember. And while people might get foggy on the details of your story, they’ll always remember how they felt about it.”
As Joseph Campbell points out in The Power of Myth, lore helps provide a framework for understanding society. In the same way, your brand’s story helps your audience contextualize and understand your product or service.
So what are some potential pitfalls you may encounter in establishing your brand’s voice and telling your story? The primary one is not being able to clearly define your brand’s values and mission. This can easily lead to confusion and inconsistencies in your messaging. Another issue is misjudging your target audience. It’s critical to listen to and incorporate customer feedback, then refine and improve your voice strategy as necessary and appropriate. And, of course, you’ll want to make sure you are consistent across all of your touchpoints with customers, including marketing materials, social media and customer service. Any misstep here can create confusion and negatively impact your mission.
Finally, it is critical that, as a brand, you are willing and able to evolve and adapt. While consistency is key, you have to keep in mind that audiences and their preferences will change over time. No brand wants to be thought of as stale and outdated. By being willing to continuously assess and refine your brand voice, you can ensure that you remain relevant, engaging, and desirable to your customers.