Effective communication is the foundation of good business, and using the right brand voice is instrumental in connecting meaningfully with customers and clients. Of course, the opposite is also true—a poorly developed or inconsistent brand voice can just as easily breed doubt, even distrust.
Understanding how to create a brand voice will lay the groundwork for successful internal and external communications. Let’s dig a little deeper into why that is and how your brand can make—and maintain—a voice that’s right for your organization.
Why brand voice is important
Brand voice is the bridge between your brand and your audience. It’s how you get to show your audience not just what you do or offer, but who you are as an organization—your personality and values.
When you develop a brand voice, the consistency you maintain will define your brand and set you apart from others in your industry, improving reach and recognition. It builds loyalty—the better your customers feel they know you, the more likely they are to perceive your brand positively. After multiple positive interactions, you’ll be seen as a credible and trustworthy brand. It also improves the overall customer experience by creating a seamless experience from one interaction—and one communications channel—to the next.
Here are some statistics showing the impact of a consistent brand voice:
- For 83% of customers, trust is a mandatory prerequisite to making a purchase.
- And 86% of customers say an authentic voice significantly influences their decision to support one brand versus another.
- A transparent and consistent voice can increase trust by up to 33% and loyalty by up to 19%.
To get an idea of what a clear and consistent brand voice looks like, consider these examples:
- Skittles leans into colorful and playful aspects with advertising drenched in rainbows and a silly, sometimes surreal, tone. Their commercials are notorious for displaying someone in ridiculous situations before their product literally rains down. To this day, Skittles is one of the most recognizable candy companies in the country.
- Tiffany & Co. is an example of success on the opposite end of the branding spectrum. Recognizing that their customers are looking for elegance and class in their products, Tiffany has cultivated a sophisticated voice with just a touch of wit to add intrigue. Their website hosts beautiful aesthetics with short, snappy copy such as, “Not your mother’s Tiffany’s.”
- Slack is known for their clarity and friendly nature. They advertise themselves as “clear, concise, and human.” Even after receiving negative criticism following a rebranding, they maintained their good nature with some friendly humor.
Next, let’s take a look at how to create a brand voice of your own.
How to create a brand voice
Brand voice encompasses everything from specific word choices and unique terminology to tone, visual elements, and emotional impact.
Here’s what you need to do to create a brand voice:
- Clarify your company’s mission and vision. What are you trying to achieve, and what steps will get you there?
- Your mission informs the personality you want your voice to represent.
- Define your values and culture. What do you believe in? What qualities do you want your brand associated with?
- Your values and culture will give you a sense of who your target audience is and how to speak to them.
- Consider your competitive advantage. What does your brand offer that others don’t? What do you do better than your competition?
- Anything that ranks you higher than your competitors should be encompassed in your voice. Let customers know you’re confident that you’re the best choice.
- Identify your target audience. Is this the actual audience you are currently reaching? What expectations will your audience have concerning your tone? Are they interested in your brand? Your core values?
- Consider your existing audience and what they find intriguing about your brand. Expand on that to refine your brand voice and reach your entire target audience.
- Review existing content to see if you can identify an existing voice. How does your brand currently present itself? What would you like to do differently moving forward?
- Evaluate how customers are responding to your current voice. Look at where communications have been successful, and decide if it aligns with what your company stands for.
- Imagine your brand as a person. Is your brand a kindly elementary school teacher, a sassy fashionista, or a rugged adventurer? Imagine the communication style that person would use—and thus, what your brand would use—and how they would come across.
- Look internally—at yourself, your employees, everyone—and use that as inspiration.
- Identify your goals regarding tone. While your voice should be consistent across all channels, your brand tone may differ from one channel and one situation to the next.
- For example, while you may choose to use a silly, playful tone for social media, a more serious, empathetic approach would be better suited to a customer support interaction.
Leave out the noise of competitors and audiences you’re not looking to target. Everyone will make their own assessment of your brand voice and communications style, but what matters is that you’re confident that your brand voice represents everything your company stands for and that you’re successfully communicating with customers.
Once you have a clear idea of your brand voice, the ideal next step is to codify it all into a brand style guide.
How to create a brand voice style guide
Maintaining consistency and quality throughout all communications can be challenging, especially if you produce a high volume of content. When developing your style guide, be sure to include these elements:
- A description of your brand voice
- The tone you are maintaining
- Your brand’s persona
- How it matches your brand values
- The target audience it is directed toward
- Note: This includes separate descriptions specific to each communications channel.
- A dictionary of unique branded terms and/or specific word-choice preferences
- Descriptions of the different brand tones you want to target across various channels and media (e.g., websites, videos, support emails, etc.)
- Rules regarding spelling, grammar, and syntax, including any established style guides you wish to follow (e.g., MLA, Chicago, etc.)
- Other dos and don’ts regarding both internal and external communication, including differences in expectations for one versus the other. For example, internal communications may be more casual, where external communications must be more professional.
- Real-world examples from your company to illustrate and clarify your rules
Your brand style guide will play a key role in not only establishing a clear brand voice but also maintaining consistency across channels, both now and in the future.
Maintaining your brand voice
Merely defining your brand voice is not enough to garner long-term success; you must also ensure your brand voice will be used aptly and consistently. Start by creating a brand guide that includes a written style guide describing your brand’s voice and the tone you want to use on varying channels.
Next, you’ll want to ensure all team members thoroughly understand your brand voice and how to use it. Schedule training sessions to review your style guide and allow employees a chance to ask questions that will deepen their understanding. Here are just some of the different forms of training you can provide:
1 Training calls: Hold a monthly (or weekly) webinar for your employees. Include anyone available that’s an expert on the subject matter and open up the call for questions.
2 Newsletters: A company newsletter specific to brand voice can include current customer reactions and success stories to keep everyone aware of company style guides. This can also be a great way to demonstrate the value of your brand voice to your employees to achieve greater buy-in.
3 Online learning modules: Something that can be done by each employee individually can resonate more than working in a group. Include quizzes and interactive situations to give them a better sense of applying brand voice during daily operations.
4 In-person workshops: If possible, hosting a hands-on workshop can engage employees more and keep them interested in learning your brand voice. Be casual, add visuals, and start an open discussion.
In addition to regular training, conduct regular communication audits to identify areas for improvement that can be addressed in future meetings. Update the style guide as needed [Link to *How to Maintain Brand Consistency Across Multiple Channels*] whenever your brand voice needs to evolve, as it naturally will over time.
Finally, consider implementing tools that will make it easy for team members to keep written communications aligned with your style guide. A multifunctional communications assistant like Grammarly Business offers a variety of ways to streamline the writing and editing process:
- Quickly identify and correct spelling and grammar mistakes, including misuse or misspelling of unique branded terms.
- Easily pinpoint the tone of a document and check it against official brand tones, revising as necessary using Grammarly’s AI-driven tone analysis.
- Help team members write with more confidence and greater efficiency thanks to real-time feedback and suggestions features.
Grammarly improves productivity by reducing editing time by up to 66% while improving writing quality by up to 74%. It also smoothes the transition to a new or improved brand voice by implementing new rules as easily as possible.
Equipped with a solid style guide and the right tools, your team will be able to expertly use your new brand voice to not only reach more people but also deepen connections with your existing customer base.