Finding your brand voice

Honest Communications, a specialist garden and home PR agency, social media management, content creation and communications agency

Brand voice often takes a backseat when it comes to business branding. Visuals are usually prioritised, and words and language aren’t given much thought.

You might wonder why you need a brand voice – is it really necessary? You might think it’s just something for huge brands. You might think it’s something for the marketing department to keep to themselves as it’s not relevant for the rest of the company.

Human connection

Does any part of what your business does involve communicating with other human beings? If the answer is yes, read on, because finding your brand voice can impact your bottom line (in a good way).

Your brand voice should help to communicate your business’s values to the world. A distinctive brand voice adds personality, colour and nuance to your brand, warming people to it. Using a consistent tone across all your comms builds trust and familiarity with your audience, which is vital as people increasingly buy from brands they trust and feel some alignment with.

What is a brand voice?

Different brands need different voices. The voice should feel natural and be appropriate to your product or service. There should be a synergy with the way your audience speaks, so they will find it relatable. A funeral director might have a formal and respectful tone, whereas a children’s cereal brand might have a fun, enthusiastic voice. Brand voice informs the language and level of formality that you use.

Brand voice can be distilled into guidelines that help you produce clear, effective communications with personality, that are consistent with your brand. This guideline should be shared by anyone who works with you, so that everybody is on the same page and has a point of reference for writing on-brand. Having brand voice guidelines will help to protect and strengthen your brand identity, even if you have multiple copywriters or agencies contributing to your comms.

A brand with a distinctive voice

Oatly, stands out from its competitors on the shelf because of its distinctive brand voice. Its copywriting is knockout, its visual identity is strong and uniquely styled, and a distinctive and ever-consistent brand voice underpins it all.

Oatly didn’t always have this distinctive personality though – it rebranded and transformed the business from an unknown Swedish company to worldwide success. The tone of voice was a pivotal part of the rebrand. You can read more about their story here.

oatlyy.PNG

Oatly’s voice is unexpected, with lots of quirky, sarcastic humour. People buy into the Oatly brand, its values and its ethos – it’s an alternative milk that appeals to a cynical, environmentally conscious millennial audience. A strong voice and personality created a powerful sense of alignment between the brand and its customers, which is perhaps why they felt so let down when Oatly recently sold shares to Blackstone – a company connected to Trump. This is an example of how brand personality, communicated through voice, makes consumers trust and feel like a business is on their level. The decision for Oatly to sell a stake to an unethical company was so jarring, because it went against the values and voice of the brand.

Differentiate with voice

Most markets are saturated with products, services, businesses and brands. Developing and using a unique tone of voice is something you can do to differentiate yourself from competitors. It gives your brand presence and personality and makes it memorable.

The go-to example of brand voice in blog posts like this one is Innocent. Their tone is well-documented as being consistently cheeky, warm and direct and people really connect with it. Innocent’s brand is famous for its voice before anything else. Both Oatly and Innocent have carved out more market share because they communicate so well, which is surely something worth doing for your own business?

innocent.PNG

innocent2.PNG

Consistency is key

It’s essential that your brand voice is consistent across all marketing channels to develop a cohesive brand personality in line with your values. Think about every social media post, blog, or article you write – is it in your brand’s tone of voice? Does it align with your values?

Oatly has a huge following on social media, and the brand is known for long-form captions that entertain and engage followers. The captions may be wordy, but the brand voice is bang-on throughout each one, and across all their channels. The tone is so consistent that it sounds like one person has written everything, when in fact there is a team of copywriters.

Being consistent with your brand voice means people can get to know your brand and what you stand for. This, in turn, creates trust, which eventually leads to sales!

Creating your brand voice

First things first, who are your audience? What do they think of your business or brand? Creating a customer typology or audience persona really helps you home in on who it is you’re speaking (and hopefully eventually selling) to. Doing this takes time and research. You can make a start by using this handy tool.

Your brand values come into play here too – what does your business or brand stand for? What is your point of view? A solid brand should have central values that shine through its comms.

Once you’ve defined your audience and values, the next step is to think about how your audience want to be spoken to and what they will respond best to. Your tone of voice should reflect the way they speak.

Glossier knows exactly who its audience is and writes in a way that resonates with them. It allows them to connect with, and sell to, its young audience effectively. They have their guiding principles on the wall in their conference room, fittingly scrawled in red lipstick: Inclusive, Innovative, Clever, Fun, Thoughtful.

glossier.PNG

Using your voice

For many businesses, brand voice is something that lives only in a dusty folder with the other brand guidelines. But your voice is what differentiates your brand from your competitors, and it should be a living breathing thing that everyone in your business uses every day.

Your brand voice should be woven through all the touchpoints of your brand, from email signoffs, to presentations, to social media captions – anywhere there’s words! Every word is an opportunity to share your brand personality so make it count.

If this all sounds great but you need a little assistance, we can help! We’ve created a brand voice development service to help companies define and refine a voice that will resonate with the audience they are trying to reach.

This starts with research, then an interactive workshop, followed by the creation of your brand voice strategy. It’s a good thing to do with your team – ideally someone from each area of your business so you can make sure you’re all on the same page and that your voice aligns with your values and culture.

Get in touch and we can chat about how to make it work for your business.