By Connie Howard, ETMG VP & Founding Writer
In Everybody Writes, Ann Handley tells us, “your brand voice is simply an expression of your company’s personality and point of view.” And in the case of voice, that expression is through words: words spoken and words written, anything from signage to executive communications to marketing copy to Tweets.
While defining a voice is beyond the scope of this blog, many brand experts will tell you some combination of the following: if you identify company values, figure out a set of words that express the tangibles, the intangibles, the formal, the informal, and whether or not humor is appropriate in the mix, you’ll be very close to your goal. Personality, as expressed on a page or a website or a post.
Personality comes easy to individuals, but it’s another thing entirely to present a consistent personality when hundreds—and even thousands—of people are trying to communicate about the greatness of their company, its products and services, and the intangibles that make up its brand. And depending on who the target buyers and influencers are, that voice has to change to maintain credibility. At the end of the day, voice is a powerful tool for building relationships, because a voice well executed is a voice that can persuade.
Once you’ve got brand voice identified, here are 5 ways to maintain it:
1. Use a style guide, and if you don’t have one, write one. And it has to include more than just correct naming, trademarking, and word choices that communicate accurate information. It also has to include word choices that pull your target customers in. Language can do that. Ask the rappers.
2. Focus on your audiences. Communicating the integrity of your brand in technical materials, with precision and accuracy is as important as communicating the impudence or humor of your brand for consumer audiences. Apple, for example, has to do both.
3. Get rid of the fig leafs of language; expressions like “one could” or “allow to” or any number of filler phrases that get in the way of you and your audience. Tell the truth and be direct.
4. If humor is part of your company’s signature voice, by all means use it. If, on the other hand, you’d like to introduce humor into a voice that engenders trust to sell that million dollar surgical suite, think twice, and then think again. And then, just don’t do it. Sometimes, serious is the way to go.
5. Most important, remember that voice supports brand, and brand supports emotional response. Voice helps solidify relationships with the people who already love your company and products, and helps new consumers build that relationship with your company and products.