9 – Brand Voice

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Welcome to re-discover your brand podcast episode #9 brought to you by artversion interactive.   I’m your host Kip Russell and today we are discussing brand voice, what is it and why it’s important to your overall bran strategy. Which is better for finding new business and why.

I’ve been thinking a lot about brand voice lately. I’m not just talking about how a brand sounds to the ear, though that is important for products that communicate with broadcast media: think Tom Bodette and Motel 6 (“will leave the ligtht on”) or possibly if your create podcast often such as our company.

There are lots of examples of companies that consistently use identity design to reinforce their brands, but far fewer brands seem to give as much thought to the voice of their communications. The Economist & apple do it exceptionally well, across all mediums. Harley Davidson does a pretty good job (there are exceptions). Saturn used to have unique voice—before it was assimilated.

But what’s the brand voice of Marriott? Cascade? Pepsi? Dell? Citi? Buick? Is there anything unique about the way Kroger, Budget, Hershey’s, or Delta speaks to their customers? None of these are bad, but none of them speak in a special way to their customers.

Try googling “Brand Standards.” There are dozens of examples of identity guidelines showing how to use official logos, fonts, and colors. But very little attention is paid to brand voice—the words, phrases, and characteristics that set a brand apart take a back seat to the more “important” visual aspects of the brand.

A good way to address brand voice is to think of your organization as a person. When that person talks, how does he or she sound? Like Sean Connery or Rodney Dangerfield there voice were unique to their characters and feel even an Actor like Vin diesel his voice articulates rough, tough macho action hero.

Let’s put it another way: When people encounter your organization either face-to-face or through communications what kind of language and tone are they hit with?

The words, attitude and overall feel of your communication are your brand voice.  It’s like if you walked into a rap concert and the rapper came out and started singing opera it just wouldn’t feel right.

Brand voice is a filter you should apply to every piece of your communication. Yet sadly, it is one of the most overlooked areas of brand development. Many organizations publish style manuals to govern capitalization, punctuation and other essentials. But few develop brand voice guidelines to make communication sound consistent with the brand personality.

Let’s give an example of where this could impact your business.  Let’s say you are Starbucks a customer walks in and asks what a Carmel macchiato is and they say with a bored I don’t care attitude “um I think its coffee with milk, its pretty good.” I don’t think Starbucks would be where they are today if employees were trained to act like that instead if you go to a Starbucks everyone is positive and having fun and when you ask what a carmel macchiato is they say “Freshly steamed milk with vanilla-flavored syrup, marked with espresso and finished with caramel sauce.” The demographic for starbucks values that type of sophistication and vibe or what we call brand voice. This is important to and business small or large.

How to figure out what your brand voice is or how to begin the process?

If you have the budget you can pay a branding agency to work with you to create your brand voice. The most important step would be to find out what your customers already think of you by asking questions, search your brand on social media and gathering data. Based on that research and the direction you want to take your brand voice you can put together a style unique and purpose driven.