Brand voice: 3 steps to success


The most memorable brands, from Apple to Geico, are ones that have a clear and consistent brand voice. When consumers see an ad from such a brand, they instantly recognize the company behind it. These brands have successfully created a unified brand identity. Brands must communicate clearly with their audiences. What’s your brand’s personality? Do you know? Discover three ways to develop your brand’s voice.

“Your company’s tone of voice represents your brand personality and values,” explains Eugenia Verbina at Semrush Blog. “It describes how we want to communicate to our audience, rather than what.”

Consistent branding drives an average 23% uptick in revenue, Semrush surveys reveal. Consistent communications build connection and trust with the target audience, while improving brand recognition. It helps convey sincerity and legitimacy.

“The voice at the heart of the brand is one of the most effective tools a brand can use for targeting its desired consumer demographics,” Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, CEO of Hawthorne Advertising, tells CMS Wire. “This brand personality is what gives consumers the ability to become familiar with and connect with the brand.”

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Yet developing a distinct brand personality can be challenging, especially in an era when there are so many channels of communication and everything is available online. It’s not just marketers who dictate a brand’s voice anymore. From sales to human resources, every department in a company must understand and follow the brand’s identity to ensure the messages they are conveying reflect it. This means all collateral from slide decks to job announcements.

Here are three steps to developing a brand voice that lines up with company values and creates a unified and consistent public presence:

Define brand voice.

A company’s mission and value statement are a good place to start when thinking about brand voice, Caroline Forsey writes at HubSpot. Forsey also says information about the target audience is essential Consider the generation you are targeting, and the ways they communicate. Another idea is to review existing pieces of content that have resonated with audiences to see how the message was conveyed. When all else fails, try to define what the voice is not – not too serious or not too flippant, for example. “Figuring out what you don’t want your brand voice to be is a critical step in choosing the right voice for your brand,” Forsey writes.

Document the voice.

To ensure that the entire company is effectively communicating with the same brand voice, it’s critical to have a clear document that explains the brand voice – what it is and what it isn’t. Offer key characteristics of the voice, as well as examples of how those characteristics can play out in content. For example, an authoritative brand voice may translate into content that offers best practices and advice. In developing this document, the content creation team should consider themselves similar to a film director who must lead entire teams to create a unified message, Robert Rose writes at Content Marketing Institute. “The content team’s purpose must be more than to create great assets,” he notes. “It must also enable every other part of the business to do the same.”

Plan routine reviews.

Brand identity is not a one-and-done decision. Ensuring consistency requires constant monitoring and reevaluation. “Language evolves and the words you used five years ago might not be en vogue today,” notes Jenn Chen at Sprout Social. Chen recommends scheduling annual reviews and reconsidering brand voice during major brand overhauls. Chen also says events that reshape the company’s overall marketing strategy can also be an ideal time to evaluate brand voice.

Failing to have a consistent brand voice can result in what Julie Guest, CEO and chief marketing strategist at digital marketing firm Bolder&Louder, calls “Frankenstein marketing.”

“There is no consistent brand voice, no consistent brand message across each marketing platform,” Guest explained to CMS Wire. “Instead, the campaigns and messages are bolted together, which at best creates mistrust. At worst, it can result in customers jumping ship to the competition.”

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About Author

Ambreen Ali

Ambreen Ali edits SmartBrief newsletters on interactive advertising, social business, mobile marketing and other topics. Before joining SmartBrief, she worked as a reporter covering technology policy and lobbying for CQ Roll Call. She holds a master's degree in new media journalism from Northwestern's Medill School and has also worked for Bloomberg and AFP, while based in New Delhi. Her work has appeared in numerous publications including Washington Post's Express, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, and

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