Find Your VoiceJuly 19, 2017
The importance of branding your language
As emojis and abbreviations begin to replace words in mainstream written (and sometimes even spoken) communication, it can be easy to forget about the importance and impact of the written word. More often forgotten still is the art of adding voice to what is being communicated. More information can be communicated by changing the way something is written. The way a brand writes can help establish personality without significantly changing content length or the intended message.
Voice is the distinct personality or style with which content is communicated. A brand’s voice can come in many different flavors. One company may wish to be perceived as formally professional, while another in the same industry may place more value on being known as approachably friendly. The words a brand chooses to use can greatly affect the way a piece of information is interpreted by an audience.
For example, if we were to take the two voices above, formally professional and approachably friendly and apply them to a computer repair company, the taglines might differ as follows:
Formally Professional Computer Repair
“Providing the Highest Quality Computer Repair Services in the Industry”
Approachably Friendly Computer Repair
“Are you having Computer Troubles? We’re Here to Help!”
Both taglines imply that the company fixes computers, but one focuses on drawing customers through claiming quality and comparing to competitors while the other aims to draw customers by relating to their issue and offering a solution. Notice that the formally professional option uses third person to keep the focus on the service, while the approachable option is attempting to engage the audience with a conversational tone. Neither option is better than the other, but they evoke different feelings to the audience. Therefore, deciding about brand voice is important. Even if a brand doesn’t deliberately choose a voice, they are still speaking with one. It is better to determine and utilize this brand voice than to have it unintentionally translated by the audience.
Brand voice can be applied to wide variety of media, but it is important to make sure there is a degree of uniformity to the language being used. A traditional law firm could hurt their professional image if they tried to be sarcastic and snarky on social media. On the flip side, an ice cream shop probably wouldn’t get much benefit from writing a white paper about the science of taste. A quick check to avoid these situations is to imagine a brand as a person, and compare the voice to the speaker.
Selecting the appropriate media is important, though that gap can be bridged. When browsing Instagram, most people don’t want to see insurance advertisements, but a clever Geico ad is going to be more palatable than most other insurance company ads because of the unique voice they’ve created that targets younger audiences. That voice wasn’t built overnight.
Establishing brand voice comes down to consistency. The more messages an audience is exposed to a specific brand’s chosen voice helps to solidify the pattern in their mind, and eventually associate that voice with the brand. A good way to encourage consistency is to have one individual (or agency) responsible for all instances of a brand’s message. Professionals can also help take the existing brand voice and make it more effective without creating too much of a disconnect from previous messaging.
Having a unique voice can set a company apart from its competitors. The most memorable messages are said in a way that makes the message interesting and resonate with the audience. This is especially true when creating headlines, where the amount that can be written or said is limited. There are a lot of individuals who can remember taglines or headlines from their childhood because it was either clever, funny, or different from the norm. Stand out, or be forgotten.
While it may be beneficial to craft a brand voice and begin using it immediately, it is also important to make sure that there is something to say. Content is still extremely important to voice, and forgetting this can exhaust or annoy an audience. One should determine what they want to say before deciding how to say it. In addition, if the content doesn’t match the voice, a disconnect can occur, and that can potentially leave an audience confused and insulted, hurting the overall brand image.
Everything a company does is branding, and it is important to remember that, even when writing content. Establish a brand voice and be heard, the way YOU want to.