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Before you can launch a business website that will successfully grow a following, it’s important to establish guidelines for your brand, including your brand voice. Your voice is a consistent, unifying element of all your brand messaging. It’s the unique way you express your brand through words across a variety of platforms.
Establishing your brand’s voice especially helps if you have multiple people writing copy for your website or other marketing materials. When it comes to attracting and retaining customers, consistency is key.
The terms “brand tone” and “brand voice” may sound interchangeable, but they’re actually two different things. Your company’s voice reflects your overall personality, whereas brand tone manifests as different attitudes within that personality.
To understand tone, think of your brand as a person. Regardless of personality, different situations will prompt different attitudes and different tones. For example, you don’t use the same speaking tone at a party as you do in your doctor’s office. When it comes to your business, a social media post advertising a promotion might be eager and lighthearted. The same voice might take on a more serious and precise tone during a client sales presentation.
The first step in finding your voice is to consider your audience. You want to speak to both existing and potential customers in a way that feels natural and appeals to them. Next, consider your company’s values and your place in the current marketplace. Finally, look at examples of marketing materials your company has produced in the past — if there are any — and make note of similarities and differences in voice and tone between them.
Once you have an idea of your existing voice, it’s time to define the voice you want to use moving forward. Start by trying to name three overarching traits of your desired voice. For example, “knowledgeable, passionate, and informal.” Sometimes it helps to think of each trait that your voice is, juxtaposed to what it is not. An example might be “smart but not pretentious,” or “friendly but not pushy.”
From here, the Content Marketing Institute recommends developing a brand voice chart. In this chart, you will list each characteristic of your voice, how you define that characteristic, how to apply it, and what to avoid. It might seem like an unnecessary step, but having a clearly defined voice visually mapped out will help you and your company to convey a clear sense of purpose to your fans and followers.
Arby’s opened its first roast beef sandwich restaurant in 1964 and now has more than 3,000 fast food locations internationally. But with such a long history, a refresh was needed. According to CNBC, when Pharrell Williams performed at the Grammy’s wearing a large bucket hat and Arby’s responded on Twitter, they realized that humor and authenticity were their friends. The new voice? Like that of your grandfather on social media.
Similar to Arby’s, Old Spice was an old brand (established 1938) in need of a new voice. According to AdWeek, to compete with Axe body spray, Old Spice decided to make the switch from a brand for serious older men, to a brand for younger men who don’t take themselves too seriously.
Whether you build a website, a blog, or a website with a blog, sticking to an established brand voice is one way for your company to achieve consistency across all marketing touch points. The more consistent you are, the more reliable your customers will perceive you to be.