Much attention is given to the visual aspects of creating a brand, and rightly so.
But what’s often overlooked yet equally as important, is how your company sounds to the world. Companies may spend a considerable amount of time determining how it looks in the world, but not much time on the words it uses, the way it communicates, and how its audience perceives the company.
In the next few paragraphs, we’ll ask “What does brand voice even mean?”, along with 6 characteristics that are imperative to building a strong, credible voice for your company.
What is brand voice? Does it matter for me?
Don’t make the mistake of thinking your brand doesn’t need a voice, or that this topic is somehow irrelevant to your industry. Like it or not, if you market your company or communicate at all with the outside world, your brand has a voice.
Establishing a brand voice requires nuance, but it also takes a little work on the front end. You must take the time to know who you are and know your audience*.
A very important rule in comedy is to “know your audience”, and I’d argue that the same could be said for marketing. To write and speak words that matter to people, you need to understand who they are and why you matter to them.
*If you'd like to take a deeper dive into personas for your B2B brand, check out our B2B Buyer Persona Template.
The tone of your brand voice can be serious and professional, or smart and quirky. You can sound sophisticated or simple - the personality of your brand is totally up to you. The fun part of branding is determining how you want the world to perceive your brand.
However, there are a handful of characteristics that your company must unwaveringly commit to in order to build a trustworthy reputation in the marketplace.
Let’s go further on these vital characteristics!
1. Be Honest
The first (and most important) component of a successful brand voice is honesty.
No snake oil. Never over-promise and under-deliver.
This seems like an intuitive thing to say because none of us ever start with the intention of being dishonest in our messaging.
Padding numbers to look better, corporate greenwashing, under-delivering on promises.
These things can creep in over time, and if they do, watch out - customers will sniff it out faster than greased lightning. And with the wildfire-like nature of social media, you can’t afford to mislead your customers and build a reputation of dishonesty.
Make a promise to yourself, your company, and the world, to commit to honesty and integrity. Besides, when you have a really great product or service, there’s no need to fabricate. You’re actually doing people a favor by selling to them!
2. Be Useful
Most brands talk on and on about their founders, why the company is so great, and jargon-y nonsense that is irrelevant to the actual end user.
We call that noise.
It simply isn’t enough to be the best anymore, you must be useful to your audience. If you want to build a trustworthy brand, what you say needs to prove immensely valuable to your clients and to your audience.
A successful brand maintains the goal of making its clients’ lives better and easier.
The more useful that your company is perceived to be, the more you will be looked to as the leader in your space.
If you own your space and lead it well, you will create an army of raving fans. And that’s the goal of marketing, isn't it?
To create a brand voice that is valuable to your audience, you must understand them on a deeper level.
Who does your audience want to become? What are their goals? What would they like to know? What kind of information can you uniquely provide to them in those regards? How can you help them win?
Use our Buyer Persona Template to dive deeper into understanding your target audience.
3. Be Human
We work with many complex companies, often with complicated offerings and very technical products, so we run across websites all the time that are full of jargon and bland corporate language.
None of it resonates with the real people on the other end of the line. It’s just noise.
The truth is, in trying to sound smart, sometimes we don’t sound very human. And this is a fatal mistake that many companies struggle to change.
The humanization of brands and leadership is becoming incredibly vital to success in the marketplace.
Why? Because people identify with other people, not corporations.
People don’t want to be sold to, they want to be known and understood.
After all, we are humans running companies that are trying to grab the attention of other humans running other companies.
You can maintain a professional, confident voice while still projecting human elements like empathy and authority. But if you don’t spend time understanding your audience, you’ll wind up talking at them instead of talking to them.
4. Be Unique
It’s quite likely that you already know what makes your company or product/service unique. A unique selling proposition is a great way to clearly set yourself apart from the competition, but also an opportunity to showcase why you matter to the world.
The uniqueness of the way you communicate matters just as much as the uniqueness of your product or service. If every brand in your industry sounds stiff and boring, be different. Be loose and interesting. If your competitors are talking about themselves, spend more time talking about your customers (you should do this anyway).
The goal is to stand out in a noisy marketplace and win more customers, right?
So, sound different. It isn’t as radical as it may seem.
I’m not saying that you have to be flashy and attention-grabbing. What I am saying is to simply notice how your competition communicates in their messaging, and speak differently.
5. Be Compelling
People buy when they read or hear words that compel them into action.
Marketing messaging that is compelling begins with understanding your customer. When you know what makes them tick, you will know how to compel them. Companies that compel their customers with strong, powerful words are the ones that win in the marketplace.
Every company in existence solves a problem.
People are not always motivated to buy the best products or services, we are motivated to buy things that solve a problem for us.
Most companies don’t understand this, and they never tap into it.
As a copywriter and messaging specialist, helping companies determine what problem they solve and how to communicate that to the world is what I do. If the problem you solve is unclear, let’s chat. We’d be happy to help you get your messaging dialed in.
6. Be Consistent
There are two aspects of consistency that are key to establishing trust in your messaging:
- showing up consistently, and
- consistently saying the same things.
What I mean by showing up consistently is, don’t come around only when you want a sale. Stay in touch, share valuable information via email, or share valuable content on social media. The point is, just show up regularly.
We see over 4,000 advertisements a day, so if you aren’t showing up regularly in inboxes, social feeds, etc, you are going to get washed out to sea.
Consistently saying the same things is like taking people through an exercise in memorization. Politicians win elections by taking people through exercises in memorization; saying the same things over and over again.
It isn’t redundancy, it’s consistency.
If what you do and why you matter is unclear to the customer, they will not choose you over another. Period.
Maybe your company’s messaging is something you are already thinking about. If so, we strongly recommend you start with Building A StoryBrand by Donald Miller. In his book, Miller lays out a proven messaging framework that helps you position your company in an effective, yet simple way to win more customers.
Don’t have a copy of Building A StoryBrand? Reach out and we’ll send you one.
As a StoryBrand Certified Guide, I use this messaging framework to help people establish clear, effective, and trustworthy brand messaging for their company. At Knowmad, we can help you get a clear, effective voice, and then implement that messaging across all aspects of your marketing.
Jeff is a StoryBrand Certified Guide, so he understands how to attract the right attention to your products and services using clear and effective communication. Jeff’s futuristic thinking makes him a strong visionary; he finds and is excited by the potential for growth in every brand.