7 questions to ask when developing your brand voice

August 29th, 2019

Author: Emily Rodgers, Copywriter, Builtvisible

How do brand voice and content fit together?

If you think about it, defining your brand voice can steer your content strategy.

Using the old ‘your brand is a person’ metaphor, pinning down the personality type your brand invariably reveals the type of content that person would share. Thus, voice and content are subtly but inextricably linked.

If you’re currently working on your brand voice, or you’ve just finished locking it down, asking yourself these questions will make sure it’s as definitive as it can be to then inform a large portion of your brand’s output ­– especially when it comes to content.

1. Can you commit?

When it comes to brand voice, consistency is key. Consistency creates a clear brand voice, builds trust in consumers’ minds and should be on par in terms of priority with the rest of your branding. You wouldn’t have different logos and typefaces across every page on your site. The same applies for brand voice. If you’re the only person in your company, then keeping your voice consistent is easy, but the likelihood of this happening is slim. The best practice in your commitment to consistency quest is a content style guide. With this rationale and application doc in hand, employees writing both internal and external communication should feel confident writing in the brand voice no matter what the context or occasion.

2. Is your voice documentation detailed enough?

The best practise when defining your brand in your content style guide is to come up with three personality traits. Not only do you need a description of what each personality trait means in relation to your brand, but the dos and don’ts when executing each one.

If your brand voice is going to be consistent, you need a content style guide that is acutely comprehensive. This means going as far as outlining:

– Company information
– Audience
– Competitors
– Differentiators
– Boilerplate
– Voice and tone (Inspiration, Execution and Samples)
– Formatting
– Acronyms
– Sentence length
– Pronouns
– Buzzwords
– Jargon
– Contractions
– Nouns

Example:

We’re currently working on the organic content approach for The Office Group, helping to promote their new website via digital content marketing, SEO and digital PR. They have a clear brand position that ensures a strong tone of voice, which is used to differentiate them from other office providers. Cornering the market for scale-ups rather than start-ups, the concept of quality over quantity informs their site and their spaces. Wellness is also deeply engrained in their values and this element comes out in their copy (and their spaces) where possible.

3. Will it work across all channels?

This question takes your tone of voice into consideration. The difference between this and brand voice? Your voice is the overarching personality, whereas tone can deviate depending on the type of mood and situation.

Let’s say your content plan involves a video series, a whitepaper and social posts – all very different types of content. You’re going to need various tones to reflect this, as well as the type of audience that might be reading them. If your brand’s personality traits (which ultimately inform your voice) aren’t broad enough for the tone to change, it might be worth rethinking them.

Example:

We worked with Bimuno, the industry-leading range of daily fibre supplements, on an animation that was used on-site, on social and even a TV ad. The tone for the script was able to translate across channels, creating a brand-building campaign that drove a 329% increase in organic revenue.

4. How do you want your audience to think and talk about you?

Much of the sales, growth and loyalty hinges on how you communicate with customers. If you don’t execute this well, as well as in the voice of your brand (as opposed to 20 individuals all delivering different messaging), your consistency can crumble, as will your brand credibility.

Think about how you want to be perceived by your audience. Write down a few sentences of the ultimate compliment a customer could give you, the type of social post you’d want someone to write about your brand or an ideal review someone could leave on your site about your service. Be specific. Work backwards from this aspirational feedback, map out how you can achieve these dream responses and use this to inform your voice.

5. Does everyone in the business like it?

We see it time and time again. An MD has developed a voice without taking into consideration the voice of the people who work for the brand as a whole. Ask employees to take a survey describing how they perceive the brand, how they think it should be coming across and why they like the brand. This should shed a light on how aligned your vision is with the majority of people who are going to be executing it.

6. What’s the difference between your voice and your competitors?

This will make you question what sets you apart from those who could be nicking your sales as well as pinpointing your USPs. Take a deep dive into your competitors’ content or have a look at their content style guide if they have one. Is there enough of a differentiation that you’ll stand out?

7. How often are you going to assess your brand voice?

As your brand grows and your brand vision develops off the back of successes and failures, your brand voice will inevitably change as a result. Instead of allowing your brand voice to ebb and flow as and when your values shift, set yourself the task of auditing your brand voice bi-annually or every quarter. Look at the style documentation you have, pick examples of where your voice has had the most impact and list the key changes you’ve made over the last six months and see if there are any improvements you can make to your style guide.


 

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