How to communicate with the audience in order to stand out from the competition, convey the values of your brand to it and win the trust of consumers? For this, the company needs to have a well-established, unique and suitable brand voice that will ensure a positive image of the company in mass media. What is the brand voice, what are its functions, and how to create it, will be discussed in this article.
So what is it?
The brand voice is a combination of stylistic and intonational characteristics that you use when communicating with your audience and in general with the information space. Ideally, this is the language your target audience speaks. The brand voice is a very broad concept that includes many aspects. For example, it regulates what you can write about in your social networks and what you can’t talk about, what words and phrases you can use in communications, what topics you can joke about and in general, whether you can use humor or not.
For example, Burger King’s voice suggests humorous advertising that touches on sensitive issues; sometimes even it’s ‘going too far’. This approach works great with young people and helps the company create viral content. But their competitor, McDonald’s, does not allow itself such an aggressive and even mocking tone, since the large audience of the company is not only young people, but also families, children who simply do not understand this approach. That is, we see that the voice of the brand regulates how the company communicates with an external audience.
Another concept related to tone of voice is the tonality of communication. Someone might think that this is one and the same with brand voice; someone believes that tonality is part of the voice, while others emphasize this as a separate concept. Personally, I believe that tonality of communication is one of the components of a brand voice. Now I’m going to explain why.
It is easiest to make out the difference between the two terms using a concrete example. Take for this the well-known airfare search engine – Aviasales. The voice of this brand is an informal, personal and friendly manner of communication; It often uses relevant informational events in its marketing. However, the tone of its communication varies depending on the channel. The Aviasales twitter account is an example of a very informal style of communication. Fresh memes and morbid humor are actively posted there. In general, for a Twitter audience, this format works great as young readers perceive it well, retweets it and spread it further. However, on television, in email newsletters, or even in native advertising, Aviasales bloggers are more restrained. Yes, they still have an informal communication style, but it’s already much more ‘toothless’, without sharp words and jokes. This approach is explained by the fact that on these sites a more heterogeneous audience is present, some of which may simply not understand these jokes.
And here lies the difference between the two concepts. The general style is the brand voice; it remains unchanged in all communication channels. However, the details – the tone of communication – can vary at different channels.
Why companies need a voice?
The brand voice is not just some kind of whim of the marketing department, which has no practical benefits for the business and is needed just for show. This tool has a purpose and a number of specific functions that it performs. The global goal is to create a recognizable, positive and credible brand image among the target audience. Let’s have a look at an example of how this works.
Imagine you are walking along the street, an elderly man in a suit comes up to you and says something like ‘young man, buy a bicycle, it is good and made of reliable materials’. It is unlikely that you will listen to him and trust him; rather, just pass by. And now a different situation: instead of an elderly man, your peer comes up to you, who looks like you and is fond of the same thing as you. He tells you how he bought a new bike, and how cool it is to ride around the city, and in the meantime reports that it is now being sold at a discount. The probability that you are more interested in buying, in the second case, is much higher. Because the goods are advertised in your own language, and you trust this voice.
More specifically, here are the tasks that a brand voice seeks to address:
- Increases recognition. When a company has a unique style of presenting materials and communicating with an audience, people begin to distinguish it from competitors and remember better.
- Demonstrates company values. If your values are lightness, modernity and environmental friendliness, and you speak the audience with an official language full of clericalism, then a cognitive dissonance arises.
- Creates trust in the company. The brand voice adapts to the characteristics of the target audience, sometimes even adopts its slang, interests, and views. Thanks to this, the brand becomes closer and more understandable, which is why it is credible.
What is ‘incorporated’ in the brand voice?
It is difficult to make a universal list of all components of the brand voice, as this concept covers too many elements. But the main ones can be distinguished. Here they are:
- The style in the written communication of the company: posts in social networks, articles on the site, press releases, advertising banners, email newsletters, etc.
- Topics on which the brand is ready to talk with the audience: products, culture, social problems, etc.
- The general style of personal communication with customers: how sellers talk, how the support service answers, how social media managers in social networks respond.
- Special words, own slang.
- Humor: admissible or not, what topics you can joke about and how.
How to create a brand voice?
To create a recognizable and, most importantly, effective brand voice that will resonate with the target audience and help shape the desired image of the company, follow three steps:
1. Build on the general brand concept
The voice must not contradict the values and mission of the company. If, for example, you have an IT project involved in innovations and technologies that will change the world for the better, it will be a mistake to use a ‘boring’ official voice, to use clericalism and marketing techniques from the middle of the last century.
Sincerity is also important for successful communication. If you write and speak in established patterns, the client will not distinguish you from dozens of other similar firms. If you are honest with him, he will trust you!
Therefore, answer a number of questions for yourself: what values does your brand have, what is its global mission, what associations should it evoke among consumers, what is its peculiarity and uniqueness, and what are your main characteristics? And after answering these questions, start developing the brand voice.
2. Study your audience
You should clearly understand who these people are, what they want, why they buy your products or competitor’s products. How do they choose what is important to them and what they do not pay attention to? Carry out a marketing research for this purpose; observe what your customers write about in social networks and forums. What topics do they care about, do they have professional slang, how do they communicate with each other, which media or bloggers attract their attention and inspire trust? Knowing all this information, you will be able to develop a unique brand voice that will surely fall into the target audience.
3. Carry out competitor analysis
See how your competitors communicate with customers: in what tone, on what topics, on which sites and in what format. Find their weaknesses: maybe somehow they are rude in the comments, somewhere they ignore user questions, do not work out the negative on the network, do not conduct social networks at all, or do it wrong. Learn from their mistakes and learn from them effective techniques. But never copy or adapt them to your own image!!!
The brand voice is a set of stylistic characteristics that a company should adhere to when communicating with customers, competitors and mass media. The brand voice is needed to stand out from the competition, gain the trust and loyalty of the audience, and build long-term relationships with it.