3 Ways to Develop Your Brand Voice

What is a Brand Voice?  More importantly, what is the sound of your Brand Voice?

Brand voice is a meaningful, consistent expression of a brand through words and prose styles that engage and motivate. It's true: The personality of your brand is determined, in large measure, by the words you use and the sentences you write.

In short, I mean the tone of your communications and the style of your writing. Here are three steps to creating a brand voice that is true, authentic and effective.  


1. Define.

First, choose three words that capture the personality of the voice you want for your brand. Not sure what they are? Ask business colleagues, friends and family to define you or your business style in three words. You might be surprised at the insightful answers you receive.   Then limit those words to three more words. Here’s an example:


Professional, but not condescending.

Happy, but not silly.

Loud, but not obnoxious.

An excellent example of consistency in use of Brand Voice is Coke. Throughout a century’s worth of messaging and advertisements—the polar bears, the singing hippies, the iconic billboards—Coke has always spoken to us in a voice designed to evoke happiness. Whether that’s the joy of family, or the joy of friends Coke consistently speaks in us the same thirst-creating emotions. Have a Coke and a Smile!


1979 Coke Ad evokes happiness as by use of it's ad tagline "Have a Coke and a smile."

1979 Coke Ad evokes happiness as by use of it's ad tagline "Have a Coke and a smile."

2. Differentiate.

Next, review the communications of your competitors. What’s their tone? Their attitude? Are you going to copycat? Or distinguish yourself? How is your brand voice different from your competition’s voice? Tell the audience in your own tone why they should choose you.

Here’s some often-quoted wisdom from Jason Fried:

“When you write like everyone else, you’re saying, “Our products are like everyone else’s.” Would you go to a dinner party and repeat what the person to the right of you is saying all night long? Would that be interesting to anybody? Why are so many businesses saying the same things at the biggest party on the planet — the marketplace?” 


3. Listen.

Before you write, make sure you listen. How do your customers communicate? Are they formal and precise? Or casual and conversational? “Listen” is an accurate verb here. Think of music. You don’t want to sound like Pink when your audience is listening to Ludwig van Beethoven. Paying close attention to your brand voice can help you get it right. Your goal is to build brand affinity by using the diction and sentence structure that’s appealing to your audience and authentic to your offering.