What is brand voice and why does it matter?

Discover the definition, benefits, and tips to create a brand voice for your business.

A company selling high-end clothing like Burberry will have a different advertising approach than a company selling urban wear like Adidas. The content will most likely look different in wording, color choices, and logo. Also, their brand voice will match the tone of their buying audience. 

While it’s possible for consumers to appeal to both brands, these companies typically advertise products based on their buyer persona. A buyer persona is a general profile of a consumer’s buying habits, preferences, and lifestyle based on marketing research. The brand voice of both companies’ marketing campaigns will be different because they’re targeting different audiences. 

A brand voice will help Adidas and New Balance’s marketing efforts stand out from one another even if they’re selling the same type of product. Another important factor is brand tone. How a company talks about its product or service might make a brand memorable and profitable. A brand voice and brand tone make up the brand identity of a company. Explore how to build your brand identity today.

What is brand voice?

A brand voice represents the personality of a company, business, and product. In addition to the logo, colors, slogan, and tagline that make up a brand story, the brand voice is what binds it all together. What you say and how you say it will set the brand tone and is essential in forming your brand identity. A brand voice helps consumers identify your brand from others. Just like your voice is distinguishable from other people, so is your company brand voice and tone.   

Brand voice vs. brand tone

A brand voice should remain consistent enough for consumers to recognize your brand no matter what media outlet you use. The way you choose to communicate your brand should reflect an unchanging personality that establishes how you want to be perceived by consumers. A credible brand voice must reflect your business's core values and objectives to remain consistent. 

Brand voice

The voice of your brand should also reflect your brand’s imagery. For instance, Gucci’s conservative and innovative casual wear has a different brand voice echoing legacy and quality. Lululemon’s brand has a lighter and playful brand voice representing its core values of health, wellness, and sustainability. Their mission is to help their customers be well in every aspect of their lives whether it’s physically, mentally, and socially. GAP, a more comparable competitor to Lululemon, voices its mission to “be a force for good,” and “to create change that is sustainable, to enrich communities, and to be better for this generation and the next.” GAP enforces this vision by presenting a storyboard of their efforts towards manufacturing their products in a more viable way. While Lululemon and GAP’s core values are similar, the voice is different because of how they choose to highlight their brand story.

Brand tone

On the other hand, brand tone can change according to the message and marketing outlet. Tone focuses more on the expression and mood of the message while staying consistent with the brand voice. For example, Puma is geared toward workforce diversity, workplace inclusion, and continuous accountability. They demonstrate their mission with a Diversity & Equality page highlighting social issues to reiterate their belief that “diversity makes us better.” The company shows a video testimonial using their employees to demonstrate their mission. The brand tone on this page will be more conservative than a page where they’re introducing a new line of running shoes. 

Whatever kind of statement is communicated, the brand tone will shift according to the message while keeping the brand voice clear. For example Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts sell coffee, pastries, and sandwiches, but their brand voice is significantly different from the other by which products they market and their brand tone. Starbucks specializes in varieties of coffee, and Dunkin Donuts highlights donuts.

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Why is brand voice important? 

Brand voice makes your business recognizable and can increase revenue. What you say and how you talk about your brand shapes its identity. The identity of a brand can have a strong influence on a person’s shopping decisions. That’s why it’s equally important to make sure your brand voice is consistent on every marketing platform, whether it’s social media, website, press release, or email marketing. 

The goal of having a good brand voice is to get consumers to identify your brand without needing to see the content. Doritos launched a campaign advertising their chips without the logo, and consumers were still able to identify their brand by the red and blue bag. They used that information to redesign their packaging while staying true to their brand colors. 

Reflects your brand’s personality 

The way you present what your brand is, what it does, and how it can solve a consumer's problem will ultimately reflect your brand's personality. So, it’s important to consider who your audience is, their likes and dislikes, buying habits and preferences so you can communicate to them in a relatable way. For instance, Disney’s brand personality appeals to wholesome, family fun. As a result, the way they communicate regarding their theme parks, movies, and cruises will reflect that personality. 

Speaks directly to your audience

A good brand voice targeted to the right consumers can speak directly to them in a way that’s relevant to the lifestyle-related to the product or service. A good brand tone makes communicating with consumers more authentic and helps you stand out from competitors. For example REI, an outdoor sporting goods company, will speak to its targeted audience in a way that appeals to their lifestyle and tie it back to the products they’re selling. 

Creates consistency

A balanced voice and tone are important for creating consistent content. Consistency helps aid in reliable content consumers can trust. On the other hand, an inconsistent brand voice might spark skepticism and doubt about the authenticity of a brand. If REI promotes biking, hiking, and kayaking on their website and then sells content about balloons and teddy bears on their social media page, this might create confusion and doubt for the consumer regarding the company’s authenticity. 

Helps you stand out

A recognizable brand can reflect how familiar consumers have become with it. Familiarity is a good thing because that means on some level, consumers have become comfortable with your brand name. The comfort of a brand name has the potential to become a trusted household name like Procter & Gamble, Johnson & Johnson, and Clorox. When consumers trust a brand, they’re much more likely to select that product or service over a competitor’s brand. Learn more on how to increase brand awareness now.

Helps create authentic connections

A good brand voice can help you create genuine connections if your message comes from a place of authenticity. Authenticity attracts trust. When you present a trusted brand in the marketplace, you’ll have a better chance of making a sale than a company that doesn’t have an authentic brand voice. For example, many products and services rely on celebrity endorsements to create genuine connections. Learn more about the importance of building brand power.  

How to create a strong brand voice

Building a strong brand voice that establishes your brand identity is key. Your brand identity will reflect your company’s core values and mission statement. The core values and mission statement should ultimately reflect the reason you started the business. It should also include a description of the product or service you’re offering to consumers and how it can solve a particular problem they might have. 

Align brand voice with core values

How to build a brand voice involves identifying and surveying your target audience once the company’s core values and mission statement have been established. Use those core values as the blueprint for how you wish to be seen by consumers and how you want to communicate. All your content should always convey solving a particular problem that consumers might have. Problem-solving should always be inserted into a company’s main objective. 

Be authentic

In all of your content, be honest. So many products and services advertised in the market don't have a brand story or mission statement. These products and services can still be successful, but the chances of longevity could be slim. At any rate, you're likely in competition with these businesses. Relaying an authentic message will go a long way because the right brand voice and tone have a better chance of resonating with consumers than a product or service that doesn't have one.

Identify your target audience and personas

Once you've aligned your core values with your authentic brand voice, the next step is getting the brand tone right. You'll need to know who your audience is to fine-tune your brand tone. You can quickly identify a target audience and establish a buyer persona with the right marketing tools. Establish a target audience today.

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Survey your target audience to understand what resonates

After selecting the right audience for your brand, you’ll need to collect feedback that will provide the information you need to get a better understanding of your consumers’ buying preferences. Learn how consumers feel about your products and services, competitors’ goods, and industry-related brands by collecting data using online questionnaires. With SurveyMonkey, you can analyze your results in real-time. Create brand engagement that can improve your brand voice.

Create a style guide for brand voice

It’s a best practice to create a style guide to remain consistent with your brand tone. A style guide is a specific list of terms of expression and references relating to how your brand presents content. This custom brand voice guide is especially useful when communicating about different variations of your business. For instance, you might use a different tone of content for a television advertisement about a product vs. a whitepaper about your company’s core values and mission statement. 

Be consistent

Being consistent will have much to do with how thorough your style guide is. Your content needs to have a steady voice, whether it’s for social media, website, or employees. You typically communicate differently with your employees than you would customers. So, inter-office memos may have a different tone than content in an email marketing campaign. It all needs to have the same brand voice because you need employees to trust and believe in your company so consumers and customers can too.  

Audit your existing brand voice

Certain media outlets have their own tone. For example, Twitter allows for a more relaxed narrative than LinkedIn. TikTok allows users to be more playful with their content, while Facebook has a more balanced tone between these platforms, even though it also has the potential to be too loose or too conservative. Therefore, you’ll need to adjust the brand tone of your brand voice to keep a steady brand image. This kind of judgment is applicable across all of these media outlets and others you think will help communicate with your audience better.

Review and adjust frequently

Because there are so many opportunities and creative ways to communicate, it’s recommended to adjust your brand voice whenever necessary. As culture evolves, so does vocabulary and the meaning behind certain words. It’s best practice to stay up-to-date, so your brand voice remains consistent with the times. Using out-of-date lingo can date you and invoke questions in a consumer’s mind about the relevancy of your brand.

Examples of unique brand voice

Apple

A good example of brand voice is Apple. The problem they’ve solved for consumers is simplifying their work, whether it’s personal or for business use. The company is best known for its innovative design of the iPhone and iPad. The wording on their Small Business page is concise, but the image stays true to their brand. To demonstrate their features, they use the same icons used in the apps displayed on the iPhones and iPads. In this way, Apple users are familiar with these icons can trust that these features are reliable and will meet their business needs.

Oatly

Oatly, an alternative dairy business, presents its content in a fun and whimsical way. They use bulky font for headlines and traditional type font for regular text. Their logo and color choice reflects their lighthearted and eccentric tone. The company page is labeled “Oatly Who?” and accompanied by a short video asking random people on the street if they know what Oatly is. Some of them don’t, which brings humor to the content. The video concludes with a thorough explanation of the company’s values and mission.  

Fenty Beauty

The brand voice of the cosmetic company, Fenty Beauty, reflects the inspiration behind the product on its company page as “a weapon of choices for self expression.” The company story states how the owner used the best beauty products in the entertainment industry and wanted to fill the gap where such products didn’t satisfy the entire market demands. The consistency of the company’s brand tone comes from the owner’s desire to launch an inclusive makeup line. 

How to find your brand voice using strategic solutions

Build a brand voice by learning more about your consumers. To learn more, first define who they are and ask how they feel about the products and services you and your competitors offer. SurveyMonkey can help you acquire a target audience to get the most valuable insights in real time. Grow brand awareness by managing your brand voice today.

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