How to create a brand voice that works
19 January 2023
Many companies have carefully considered design standards and guidelines. Do's-and-don'ts for design language, colour codes, logos, and positioning are clear on paper. But what about your brand voice: does your way of speaking fit your brand? All too often, this turns out to be a mismatch when it’s just as important. Do you want to know how to make a success of your brand voice? Following our seven tips will help you on your way.
1. Start with your brand values
Brand values are the basis of a strong brand. After all, they resonate throughout your organisation. It's these values that form the basis of the visual identity of your brand on the one hand, and for all other forms of communication on the other. You need a strong voice of your own on all your channels, and that's why you convert the brand values into brand voice values: which values fit the voice you want to create?
2. Develop your brand voice with copywriters
Using a brand voice is different from developing one. Therefore, make sure that you work with copywriters when developing a brand voice. Creatives with knowledge of strategy and branding, people with deep knowledge of language, who know exactly how to transform static words into sentences with feeling. Once that language base is in place, marketers, designers, or product managers can also use it — as long as the creativity started with copywriters.
The voice of Tony's Chocolonely remained consistent even during the corona crisis: that's how it should be.
"Tony's werkt voorlopig ook thuis, dus onze super stores zijn tijdelijk dicht. De chocofoon is gelukkig bereikbaar en ook onze repen zijn nog te vinden in onze online chocoshop! Of in de supermarkt natuurlijk. #hanginthere"
3. Make it practical
Translating your brand values into your brand voice values is one thing. But translating those brand voice values into clearly defined writing guidelines is the next step. You want your brand voice to be practical, so that your internal colleagues know how to play with that voice, and ultimately so that your users also have a pleasant experience with your brand, right?
Let's say "simple" is one of your brand values. How do you define that in a directive? By writing actively, using B1 language, and making texts scannable, for example. Make your guidelines as clear as you can and explain them with numerous examples of how it should — and shouldn’t — be done. This is how to demonstrate that with a consistent brand voice you can still be flexible and creative.
4. Choose nuances in your voice and tone
Your brand voice is a consistent way of communicating that you define and that everyone adheres to. What does this achieve for your brand? One supremely important thing: that all your content and communication sounds the same. So you can say that your brand voice always sounds the same. But sometimes you may choose to add a little nuance to the tone: if you send someone a reminder, you sound just a little different than if you’re sending a message of congratulations, but you're still using your own unique voice. It's actually no different than in real life: you adapt your voice to the context and the situation you're in. Remember: write texts on a human scale.
5. Create a writing style guide
Is your brand voice clearly defined? Excellent! An essential addition to your brand voice is a writing style guide. You can use the guide to set out your preferences about the use of numbers, punctuation, special characters, etc. Your writing style guide is a practical guide on how to communicate while maintaining your brand voice. Where your brand voice seeks to distinguish itself from your competition, the writing style guide helps you and your colleagues to adopt a consistent way of writing.
6. Monitor your brand and voice
Especially in the early stages, it’s important to make one or more people responsible for safeguarding the brand voice. Someone who checks everything before it reaches the public. This is the best way for your organisation to be sure that you are brand and tone-stable on all your channels. Actually, it is not much different from how many companies deal with their visual identity: a brand manager or design director checks each design for the correct colour codes, design language and fonts so that your brand has the same unique look everywhere. For your copy keeping to the right brand voice is just as important.
7. Make sure your brand voice is alive within your organisation
Developing a strong brand voice doesn't stop when you've set the guidelines. The internal presentation and implementation of your brand voice — and your brand in general — are just as important. How do you bring your brand voice to life in your organisation? You can give brand voice training, hold coffee sessions, and/or visit different departments with a roadshow. Communicating like this, in a variety of ways, gives your product managers useful tips when they’re writing product texts in a stimulating and interesting way and your customer service representatives have a better understanding of your brand voice when they’re emailing customers. This kind of engagement often even leads to the development of internal brand ambassadors and that's exactly what you need.
Prefer to develop your brand voice with professionals? The content specialists at iO are happy to help you express the unique character of your organisation in your brand voice. Contact us for a no obligation demo, our brand voice experts are here to help you.
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