People have a style. They are energetic, gruff, emotional, or factual. Maybe funny. As you get to know somebody, you learn what to expect. Consistency makes them comfortable to be around.
This is also true for your business. Your company has a brand 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 surprises that aren’t gift wrapped in a box. If you’re not 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.
- Your customers may change, or their attitude towards you may change as you grow. The founder’s voice may no longer be suitable.
When these happen it is time to define your brand voice.
What is a Brand Voice?
A brand voice is the personality a company conveys as it communicates with words. It is the non-visual aspect that makes up your brand.
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 is the actual selections made by one of our clients.
This brand voice self-assessment was designed to be very quick to create and be useful for content creators. It is useful when the company’s brand has not been fully defined and a brand style guide has not been created. It will likely change as customer personas are defined or edited, or a complete branding effort is undertaken. It is not a replacement for a brand style guide and should be included in or replaced by the style guide when it is created.
This tool has proven useful for companies that have not fully defined their brand when they need to quickly get content created. But there are many ways to accomplish the same goal. For a different approach, read this article about defining your brand voice on the Content Marketing Institute blog.
Your voice is just one element of your company’s brand. Defining your brand requires defining everything that defines a brand, including the logo, color, and font selection. This takes time. The brand voice scale was created so you can quickly guide content writers when your overall brand is not yet defined.
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 judgment 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 and 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 to define your company voice becomes obvious as your company grows. Many small and medium-sized companies don’t take the time to define it, making it difficult to get help from professional content writers. When you need content now you don’t have time or resources to go through a comprehensive branding exercise. The Brand Voice Scale is a simple tool that you can use to quickly make your communications more consistent.
Download the Brand Voice Scale Word document to quickly define your own brand voice.