Building a business means building a brand, and building a brand means finding your brand voice. Businesses that are not built into brands will inevitably become commodities, and commodities only win customers by virtue of being the lowest priced goods or services in their respective categories. Most business owners do not want their livelihood sold off or marketed as a commodity, but many are at a loss when it comes to preventing that from happening.
The key lies in knowing your business and industry inside and out and developing a strong, cohesive brand voice that shows your customers what you know while engaging them in a way that is authentic, unique and above all honest.
But building a brand voice isn’t a straightforward process. It’s about analyzing your company’s identity and implementing an ongoing conversation with your customers. It’s everything: the way your website copy is written, how your marketing emails sound, even the way your logo comes across, and so much more.
To build a strong, appealing brand voice you must first tackle the all important mission of determining how you want your business and brand to sound.
Meaning, you must determine your brand’s tone of voice.
Your Brand is Alive
There’s no two ways about it: your brand is alive. At least, it should be. The best brands have voices that aren’t set in stone. Circumstances change, products come and go, trends skyrocket and subsequently level off – smart companies learn how to use this to their advantage by developing a brand voice that isn’t concrete, but evolves with the shifting dynamics.
Determining your brand’s tone of voice means breathing life into it. People want to be wowed; they don’t want to be put to sleep by your marketing. They want to connect.
And the way you connect with your customers through your brand is to express your brand’s voice as if it were a living, breathing person. Almost as if it were an extension of you.
Why else does tone of voice matter?
- It gives your brand personality and a set of values, which help to engage readers.
- It helps you stand out from the rest of the industry – which increases brand recognition and keeps your brand from becoming a commodity.
- It builds trust and conveys honesty, both of which are crucial when developing customer relationships. People feel at ease with what they know, so a familiar tone comes in handy.
- It’s the best way to persuade. People remember the way things are said more than anything.
Harriet Cummings from Distilled put it best when she said, “By and large, a successful tone of voice should go without notice. The aim is not for your audience to remark on your great writing but, instead, to remark on your great business.”
Strengthen Brand Voice Through Content
If you are this far along in the journey of building your brand, you should already know that great content is a must have for any successful business. Without high quality content, there’s almost no point in developing your brand voice, because all that hard work put in won’t get you anywhere if there isn’t a worthwhile storyline to go with it.
Think of it this way: you wouldn’t read a bad novel just because you like the style of the writer. You might try to, but you’d likely get frustrated in the first couple of chapters and give up, thinking that to keep reading would be a waste of time. And you’d be right: bad content (or no content) is worse than lacking a brand voice. It’s a waste of your customers’ time.
Once you’ve established your brand’s tone of voice, work on strengthening brand voice through content. Use content as a way to show your potential customers your unique style, and encourage your employees to express themselves through the brand, as long as they adhere to the brand’s identified tone and set of values.
A brand voice is only as good as the content that speaks for it. Well-written, well-designed content will not only help you develop your brand voice into something even more significant, but it will showcase the very brand voice that you’ve worked so hard to figure out in the first place.
Don’t be afraid to experiment and make use of trial and error. You won’t know what works and what doesn’t unless you try something new and check the data behind it to see how it performed. What one person thinks is great, someone else may find appalling. That’s just the way the world works.
You’ve got to discover exactly who your ideal customer and reader is, and the only way to do that, other than paying for a great deal of market research, is to try something and analyze the data after.
Understanding your target market is one thing. It’s another thing completely to develop a voice through content that speaks so well to your target market that people remember you for years to come.
That’s building a strong brand voice.