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Brand Voice: Defining the brand's personality

05/03/2020
by Isaura Sotoca

What is brand voice?

It is the personality of the brand.

Its character.

The brand voice is the emotion that a brand conveys through everything that it communicates.

Le'ts see some brand voice examples

The voice of the brand would be equivalent to a person's character. Like it or not, the brand will always have its own personality. A brand could be:

  • Fun
  • Aggressive
  • Inspiring
  • Elegant
  • Shameless
  • Cheesy

All brands have a "voice". Or let's say a "personality".

Don't you believe it? Think of Apple. Exclusive, informal and coolHarley-Davidson? Aggressive and shameless. Or Media Markt? Clear, direct and striking.

How to define a brand's voice?

Don't be fooled. It's not as easy as it might seem!

But there are a few basic steps to follow.

Note: Keep in mind that some steps do not make sense if we are talking about a new brand instead of a brand that already exists.

Research stage

  1. Identify the target. With who the brand will be talking to. Who they are, how they are, what they do, what they like, where they move,...
  2. If the brand already exists, ask your customers about the image they have of the brand. Surveys are a good way to know the reality of the market.
  3. Review all the content that the brand is already creating: Website, presentations, app, ads, customer service, catalogues, social networks... And think about what you're communicating.
  4. Check what your customers perceive and compare it with your perceptions. Do they match?

Conceptualisation stage

The moment when we are going to actually define the brand voice has arrived!

Ask yourself:

If the brand were a person, what personality would it have? Reply with just 3 words.

A tip is to start with what should it be and what shouldn't.

For example: "Elegant, but not stretched", "educational, but not paternalistic."

You'll have to stay with three adjectives.

Let's say:

  • Cheerful
  • Friendly
  • Funny

Let's dig deeper into these adjectives.

Our recommendation is to create a table like this one:

PersonalityWhy?What to doWhat not to do
CheerfulWe have a young audience and the product we offer is from the leisure industry. Being cheerful is in our DNA.Use a colorful aesthetic. Use animations. See always the half-full glass. Give hope and convey optimism in all communications.Be monotones. Boring. Use sad and poor graphics. Do not explain things enthusiastically.
FriendlyBecause we are a group of people excited about the product we offerBe very kind, write in first person.Use the passive voice. Talk very seriously. Write using the third person, either distant or cold. Do not smile.
FunnyWe take work very seriously, but without laughter life doesn't make sense.Informal language. Don't be afraid to use GIFs, memes… Make jokes. Use ingenious copys.Be too formal. Use long and boring sentences to explain something.

Now it's time to share all this info with the whole team. And from time to time, take a moment to review it together. It is a good practise to re-read the bases from which all the brand identity was based on.

Being consistent and regular will help you create a solid brand identity. Therefore, the brand voice should be published in the brand guidelines and everyone who communicates the brand should really know it. EVERYONE.

Why is it important to define a brand voice?

First of all, consider that a brand will always have a voice. Like it or not, communication works this way. When you have a product or service, you communicate with your audience as a brand. So, we are pretty sure that without noticing you are already choosing certain words, a tone, a way of saying things or a platform.

All this is communication.

And when you communicate, you convey emotions and print a character.

So, isn't it better to define beforehand what voice is appropriate for the brand? This "personality" will be the backbone of everything the brand communicates.

Once the brand voice is defined, it is important to stay true to it. Clients don't like confusion. If you are a funny and playful brand they won't expect you to have gray and formal offices, for example.

If the brand does not stick to its own brand voice you may become a "moody" brand that changes personality every now and then. It would be weird, right?

How do we communicate the brand voice?

The personality of the brand is communicated through everything we do. From how we speak on the phone, how the workers are dressed, how the packaging is or what we say in social media.

Copywriting and visual design help us to modulate what we say to convey a brand voice or another.

Let's see it with an example!

We have two different welcome emails to new users who register on the web. These emails are form two different companies.

The first one is a banking organization that defines itself as formal, classical and reliable. The other one is a smartphone brand that is defined as cheerful, funny and friendly.

Brand Voice through Copywriting

These are the words that each brand uses to welcome the users in their email:

Brand voice

Can you identify which brand would send each email? 😉 Easy, right?

What if we now add a visual component?

Brand Voice through Design

The email would be like this:

Brand voice o veu de marca

In this case, the brand's personality is reinforced.

In both cases we manage to welcome the users, but with the right copywriting and design we will be printing a certain character – a brand voice.

Brand voice or brand tone?

Is it the same?

Not at all. And it's easy to be confused!

The brand voice is the personality, the character. To be fun or formal. To be smart or cheerful. Once you define the voice of your brand you should stick to it.

On the other hand, the brand tone is how you share this personality. How you say what you have to say. In this case, the brand tone may change depending on the circumstances or the time.

That is:

A brand can be fun and cheerful but use a more serious tone when explaining that they have had to do a staff reduction. Or a brand can be formal and elegant but use a festive tone when they communicate that they have won a prize. The tone used by the brand must be chosen in accordance with the circumstances but it shouldn't be against the brand voice. So, and to summarize: The brand voice remains constant over time. The brand tone changes to adapt it to the context.

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