Finding Your Brand Voice: 3 Simple Steps
What is your brand voice? Here's what I want you to do.
Imagine your business has no logo or tagline. Will your customers know your brand through your content? Will a stranger understand who you are, what your business is and what values you hold simply by reading your posts? Are you using the same tone and language across your content landscape?
If your answer is "No" to any of the above questions, read on and discover how you can find your brand voice.
Your brand voice is important.
When you know your brand voice and infuse it in every part of your business, you are well on your way to telling an awesome story about what you do. Because you know that your voice is the essence of who you are. It's how to speak with people. It's how you sell. It's how they feel when you leave the room.
What happens when you don't know your brand voice? You might lose trust and authority in your industry. Your content reeks of inconsistency. People have no idea who you are or what you do.
The good news is this is an easy thing to fix. Here is my process to finding your brand voice.
Think of three words.
The first thing I do when I meet a potential client is ask them one question.
"What three words describe your business?"
Why three words? Because I like odd numbers. Truthfully, if you have more than three words to describe your business (and your values), you risk too much segmentation with your content. These three words define the core of who you are, your values and what makes you different than everyone else in your industry. These are your voice characteristics.
How do you come up with these words?
The process is different for each business. If you are new to content marketing, think about the values on which you built your business. If you have been creating content for some time (writing blogs, tweeting, posting, etc.), gather a representative sample of your content. Can you identify themes or similarities in your content? Does it match what you think your brand voice is?
Think about what you want to be known for. Do you want to be known for being authoritative and professional? Do you want to be known for being quirky and fun? Do you want to be known for being bold and innovative?
Let me give you an example.
The tagline for Bourbon & Honey is Simple & Beautiful. "Simple" and "beautiful" are my two words that describe the essence of what I do. I create simple and beautiful content for small and medium-sized businesses.
But there's more to your brand voice than three words, right? Let's move on to the next step.
Describe your words.
After you have identified your three words, let's unpack each one to dig in a little deeper. Let's say you want to be bold and innovative.
What does being bold mean to you? Does it mean you are willing to take risks? Does it mean you go big or go home?
What does innovative mean? Are you committed to investing in research and development? Are you striving to introduce a new method or way of doing things? Are you unafraid to push the boundaries a little bit?
Let's return to my previous example.
When I think about my words, simple and beautiful, what do either of those mean to me?
SIMPLE: distilled so it’s meaningful, valuable, balanced and relevant.
BEAUTIFUL: written so it’s fresh, fluid and creative.
I now have seven, very specific words that act as a checklist. When I create content for my own purposes, I ask myself:
- Is it meaningful?
- Is it valuable?
- Is it balanced?
- Is it relevant?
- Is it fresh?
- Is it fluid?
- Is it creative?
If I can answer yes to every single question, I publish. If I can't answer yes to every question, I revisit and tweak until the content meets these criteria.
Write it down.
It's essential to write all of this down, especially if you are not the principle content creator. You can create a separate document that lists each word with characteristic descriptions and the best practices for using each. You can also include this information in a brand style guide.
This is what this might look like:
It's also important to train everyone in your business on your brand voice. This applies to freelance writers you've hired to create content, the sales people working on the floor, and even your HR staff. And it doesn't matter if you have a cleaning company or a content marketing business. Everyone is a carrier of your brand voice, so it's worth the investment to ensure everyone understands it and projects it properly.
What are your three words?