People have a style. They are energetic, gruff, emotional or factual. Maybe funny. As you get to know somebody you learn what to expect, the consistency is what makes them comfortable to be around.
Your business is the same way. Your company has a voice that it uses whenever you use words to communicate to your customer, whether it’s a brochure, your website, or a Youtube video. While any business is made up of people, each unique, your company voice is what makes people gravitate towards or away from you.
When you’re consistent your customers and prospects get a feel for the personality of your business. They can form an opinion if you’re a company they’d like to work with. Or not. People don’t like surprises, at least the ones that aren’t gift wrapped in a box. If you aren’t consistent people don’t know what to expect and they will drift away.
It is natural for a small company led by an entrepreneur to have a similar voice as the founder. It just happens. But as the company grows two things occur:
- More people write and speak on behalf of the company; and
- Your customers may change, or their attitude towards you may change as you grow.
When this happens it is time to define your company voice.
The Brand Voice Scale
Moderno Strategies developed this “voice scale” to help define the voice. We have our client fill out this chart before starting any project that involves creating content, whether it’s updating a website or establishing a brand.
This simple tool has proven to be helpful and intuitive for clients. They simply place an X in a square on each row that describes their company between the extremes. The Xs in this table are the actual selections indicated by one of our clients.
|Formal / Professional||X||X||Informal / Casual|
|Authoritative/No fluff||X||Friendly / Sincere|
|Persuasive||X||Instructional / Analytical|
|Enthusiastic/Passionate||X||Level (nearly mundane)|
During the brand development process we learn about our client’s customers and review existing marketing collateral. We go over with our client any anomalies we discover between what has been done in the past, or what their customers would expect, and the selections made in this self-assessment.
Your company voice is just one element in your company’s brand. We initially created the voice scale to add some direction to copywriting, we’ve found that it really helps with creating many brand elements, including color and font selection and creating brand graphic elements.
The Brand Voice Scale can be a useful tool to refer to as an initial brand is developed or during rebranding to help ensure that all the brand elements work together.
If your company serves vastly different audiences you may want to consider establishing different voices for different audiences. This only works if your communication channels are different for each audience.
While it is important to be consistent, your content creators do need to use judgement and break the guidelines when necessary. If your brand uses humor, when a customer is having a problem with your product or service a little humor could inject a little levity that reduces the stress. Or it could piss them off any you lose them as a customer. Always keep in mind the goal of each piece of content and the mindset of the content consumer, and adjust accordingly.
The need for defining your company voice should seem obvious (at least now that it’s been pointed out to you) as your company grows, but many medium sized businesses have never taken the time to define it. The Brand Voice Scale is a simple tool that you can use to quickly make your communications more consistent.