Let Your Brand Speak: Six Tips to Find Its Voice

4/17/19

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By Amanda Bowen, Director of Business Development at The Content Funnel

Much of today's marketing is done through social channels where we talk with (and not to!) clients. For this reason, the right voice is crucial to building a company brand. How do you give your brand a voice?

Defining brand voice

When branding and marketing professionals say “brand voice,” we’re talking about the tone behind your communications. The writing style builds tone. Example:

“IF I WRITE LIKE THIS, YOU THINK I’M SHOUTING AND POSSIBLY ANGRY.”

An elementary example, yes, but the point is clear. Now read this example and guess the inspiration for its voice:

“Ordered a latte today. They forgot the milk. Sad. Service is going downhill. VERY, VERY BAD!”

If you said President Donald Trump, congratulations! This example shows, 1) how writing style builds voice, and, 2) Voice does matter because a clearly defined brand voice helps people recognize you.

How to give your brand a voice

#1. Review created content

Perhaps you have past published content. In this case, review what you’ve done thus far. Select a few examples that BEST represent your brand. Describe the voice in just a few words. Consider revising off-tone existing content or removing it in favor of new content that reflects your newly defined voice.

#2. Think about clients

What voice do your clients use in their communications? Which voice do they respond to best? In a field like commercial real estate, you commonly find a more educated, elevated voice. The subject matter is often complicated and the professionals are highly specialized.

However, this isn’t always the case. Take a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) for work orders or property marketing that engages with a range of professionals, like vendors, asset managers, property managers, and tenants. Here, the brand voice needs to speak to a wider demographic. That’s why you must consider how your clients communicate with you.

A study by Sprout Social on brand voice found people mostly wanted behaviors that were honest (86 percent), friendly (83 percent), and helpful (78 percent.) Snarky (33 percent) was the most unpopular.

#3. Choose personality words

The “three-word rule” is pretty popular among branding professionals. This rule limits the number of personality descriptors for your brand. For example: “Bold, Risk-taking, Innovative.” Sometimes marketers like to clarify these traits; ex: “Bold, not arrogant.” The exercise of limiting the brand words aims to drill to the heart of your business voice. Whether it’s two words or five words, set a number and define your personality.

#4. Differentiate from competitors

Branding is about differentiation. If six brands all have “Bold, not arrogant” voices, how will yours be unique? Do consider all the steps here, but above all else, find a way to make your brand voice different. This can be a challenge in CRE where brands often seek to be “professional”, or “knowledgeable,” or a “thought-leader.” Consider the crowded co-working sphere where many brands define as “innovative” or “inspiring.” Perhaps your co-working space is also “creative” and “whimsical.”

#5. Write examples

Help your branding and marketing teams by creating examples of the voice in action. For existing content, link to the sample definitive content. If you’re starting from scratch, write a few social media posts or the intro to a blog.

Say your brand is “authentic,” defined by the team as “engaging, direct, and trustworthy.” What does authentic text look like? Give an example:

Ex: After her tenants’ new puppy ate the key fob–again!– founder Carmela Jones thought there had to be a better way to control property access.

Who hasn’t had a new puppy eat something precious? What multi-family property manager hasn’t dealt with lost keys? It’s an engaging and real-world example.

#6. Chart absolute no-nos

How to write the brand voice matters, but so does what not to say. Will your brand allow industry slang or jargon? Are references to pop culture acceptable? What content sources should social media team members avoid? If you are “bold, not arrogant,” what does an arrogant post sound like? Clarify what the brand voice NOT helps round out what it IS.

With these six brand voice tips in mind, create the right personality for your blogging and social media efforts. Give your brand a voice that will distinguish you from the competition and build a positive industry reputation.

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Need help with your social media strategy?

Contact Amanda@thecontentfunnel.com to learn more. We manage some of the BIGGEST brand’s social media in CRE and more importantly WE GET RESULTS.