5 Steps to Creating the Ultimate Brand Voice for Your Small Business
If the thought of developing a voice for your small business has you feeling a bit uneasy, you’re not alone. After all, most budding entrepreneurs don’t have a team of marketing gurus at their disposal, which means the task of conjuring up your company’s voice is added to your already lengthy to-do list.
But as the number of platforms you use to communicate with consumers grows, so does the importance of creating a brand voice that appropriately reflects your business and resonates with your audience. The good news is a spot on brand voice is easier to craft than you might think, and it can deliver an R.O.I. that even the most ingenious of marketing professionals can’t trump. If you’re ready to creating the ultimate brand voice, read on.
Step 1. Outline Your Company’s Values
Your company’s voice is as unique as your own, and to ring true with your audience it must be based on your company’s values. Therefore, the first step to creating a genuine brand voice is to outline your company’s core values. What does your company stand for? Why did you launch your business? Beyond the financial aspect, what drives you? TOMS, the famous shoe company founded on the one for one model offers an excellent example of a company that has identified its core values and weaves them through every communication, from emails to social media.
Step 2. Establish Your Communication Approach
One of the most basic questions you’ll need to answer when crafting your brand voice is how formal or informal its tone should be. A formal tone usually conveys professionalism and a sense of authority, but let’s face it, formal language isn’t exactly captivating. On the other hand, casual language is more engaging, but it can come off as unprofessional.
When establishing your communication approach, consider your product or service and your audience. And keep in mind that even if you’re in a traditionally “serious” business like insurance, your target audience might be more receptive to a lighthearted approach. Consider how the content found on State Farm’s Facebook page differs from the less formal approach Geico uses to communicate with their audience.
Step 3. Develop a Buyer Persona
The process of creating a buyer persona takes a bit or work, but the pay off can be great. You’ll not only have a better idea of who you’re “talking” with, which makes developing content easier, you’ll also have the knowledge to create a more effective message.
A buyer persona portrays your ideal customer based on traits such as sex, age, income, marital status, fears, values, social media use and education. One of the easiest ways to create a buyer persona is to create a fictional character. Name her, draw her, and details what makes her tick. The more you know about how she makes a purchasing decision, as well as what’s meaningful and relevant to her, the better armed you’ll be to develop a brand voice that will motivate her to take action. Want some inspiration? Take a look at how these successful businesses bond with their buyers’ personas.
Step 4. Create a Word List
Building a word list is an important step in creating the ultimate brand voice because it not only helps you identify words that “work” with your message and those that don’t, it also serves as a guideline to other professionals, such as freelancers, who may be writing about your brand but not know it as intimately as you do.
CoverGirl and Lancôme are both huge makeup companies, but because they target vastly different consumers, their words lists are likely worlds apart. CoverGirl’s website is sprinkled with words that speak to a younger audience such as “hot,” “dazzling,” and “sexy,” while Lancôme uses words that appeal to an older, more refined woman such as “luxury,” “deluxe,” “glamour,” and “high-quality.” You might start brainstorming your word list by asking your employees to fill in the blanks: “Our brand is_____” and “Our brand is not_____.”
Once you’ve created a list of descriptive words you want to use, as well as those that are off limits, take a look at how your target audience talks about your brand via social media. If you discover your customers are using particular words or phrases consistently, add them to your list. And when one of your Facebook posts or Tweets is especially well received, make note of it. Last but not least, keep in mind that your word list is a living document that is only effective when refined time and again.
Step 5. Stay Consistent Across All Platforms
Whether you’re drafting an email blast, updating a Pinterest board or writing a product description, it’s imperative that your brand voice stay consistent across all channels. Doing so is not only an important part of product positioning, it’s also critical to gaining trust from your audience.
Above all else, the brand voice you develop for your business should be unique. So don’t be overly concerned about using the same language that others in your industry have adopted. Decide what works for you and what doesn’t, then be consistent.