Do you want to know what makes your brand unique? Your brand design and voice. These two work hand in hand as they represent your brand to the world. They both breathe life into a brand and can set you apart from other brands. If you’re struggling to really define your brand voice and find out what makes your voice unique, read on, because I am sharing a simple exercise that’s very helpful in finding your voice.
What exactly is a brand voice?
A brand voice is defined by a set of characteristics to describe your communication and writing style. This includes what kind of language you use when you engage with your audience. As an example: your style could be formal or informal, funny or serious. It also regulates the tone you use which is more how you say something than what you say. The tone might change depending on the situation, who you are talking to and what type of outlet you use. So depending on the situation or the person you are talking to your funny style could switch between different tones like hilarious, satiric or cheerful.
voice = what you say tone = how you say it
Everything starts with your brand values
Always look at your brand values first. Your brand values are the principles that guide your brand. They clearly define what your brand stands for and how you act. Pick three core values you incorporate within your brand foundation and consult before every decision you make especially regarding your brand voice or brand design.
When it comes to your brand voice your values are a good starting point. Ask yourself before you start creating any kind of content “How does this align with my values?”.
The brand voice exercise
Let’s do the exercise. I call it the situation exercise because you are going to create a special situation in which you have to respond as naturally as possible but with regard to the situation. Create and go through as many situations as you like. Mostly these are problem/ solution scenarios where a customer needs your help, has a question or wants to complain but you could also find positive scenarios, e. g. writing a thank-you note to a collaborator, share your success on social media or send a follow-up mail to a recent client.
How does this exercise help you to find your brand voice?
Going through several different situations will, not only show you how you react (which plays a huge role in your brand experience) but it will also give you information on your voice that already exists. Everybody has a special way of talking and writing. The trick is to find out what makes your voice special and sets you apart from others. From there, you can start to work on your voice and improve it by integrating your brand values.
- Type of content: Choose a type of content for the situation you’re going to create (email, blog post, social media post, phone call, message, customer support chat)
- Person: Who are you talking to? (first-time blog reader, returning customer, Twitter follower, coworker, a prospective client)
- Emotional situation: How does this person feel right now? (upset, confused, excited, hesitant, pleased, eager)
- Subject: What is the subject of your conversation or exchange? (examples: A customer calls because his order has not been delivered yet/ a prospective client sends you an email because she’s on the fence of booking your coaching package but doesn’t know if you are the right fit/ a blog reader commented on one of your posts to tell you he doesn’t agree with your opinion/ you want to collaborate with an influencer in your niche and are trying to make the first connection via social media). You create the situation so you can decide whichever subject you like but try to get really detailed.
- Purpose/ result: How do you want this conversation to end? What is the purpose of it? (You want to: motivate, calm, thank, persuade, excuse)
Now that you have created the outlines, let’s get to actually writing or talking. You could ask somebody to do this exercise with you and put himself in the situation of the customer
or you have to put yourself into the recipient’s head which is a good way to see your brand from the outside. Of course, you could also use already existing communication (email exchange, blog comments ASO) for this exercise.
Go through the communication step by step and write it down. Everything. Put the whole dialog on paper.
How to find the gist of your brand voice?
It’s time to look at what you have. If you have gone through several situations you might have found that your tone changes and you adapt to the person you’re talking to. This is good because it gives you insights also in the complexity of your voice. Following now are the points you want to look for:
Look for words and phrases you repeat often and the characteristics of the language you use. Are you using lots of technical terms? Do you like to abbreviate words? Do you use slang? How would you describe your voice? Your voice is a link between your brand and your audience. Make sure you use it to tell your audience about your brand in a way they understand.
> Create a hit list of the words and phrases you use repeatedly and see if you can ameliorate them to align better with your brand. Some of these could even make it into your standard repertoire e.g. how you start or end your emails every time.
Did you realize that your tone changes all the time? Your general writing style stays the same but your tone adapts to the situation. Let’s pick the example from above. You want to come across as funny but there are situations where hilariously funny isn’t suitable and you need to adjust yourself to not make inappropriate jokes. Your purpose could be to still turn the situation into something positive. While your voice is more focused on the subject of your communication, the tone is connected to the purpose.
> Find out how the tone changes if you change the purpose. Take a closer look to find what could be improved to make your purpose more clear.
One more thing to finish this up; the more you write the better you get and along the way, your voice will finally break through the rambling and become clear.