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Brand voice: How to define yours and stand out from the rest

by Canto  |  December 1, 2022

8 min. read
Woman with a microphone articulating brand voice surrounded by icons above blue organic shapes.

No matter if your brand is just starting out or looking for a brand personality refresh, defining your brand’s voice can leave a big impact. Your brand voice is the catalyst for connecting with an audience and, over time, it has the potential to create deep and lasting relationships with your customers.

What is brand voice?

Brand voice is defined as the personality a brand displays across all of its different channels. A brand’s voice is unique and represents how customers perceive and engage with the business. The voice is present throughout different kinds of content on the brand’s website, social media platforms, campaigns, and even sales collateral. When looking for ways to rebrand, visual factors like a logo, color palette, font selection, and iconography should also be taken into account as factors that can shape brand voice.

For example, if your logo consists of bright colors, the customer might perceive the brand as fun and lighthearted. On the flip side, deeper shades may come across as serious and professional. When working with written content, brand voice could feature casual language and cultural references or it may take a more formal approach.

Brand voice vs brand tone

The terms “brand voice” and “brand tone” are often used interchangeably, but they refer to very different concepts. Brand voice is always an extension of your brand’s personality. It reflects your brand values, goals, and unique point of view. Brand tone, on the other hand, refers to the ways you express that personality across different channels and audiences.

While your brand’s voice should always be consistent, brand tone can (and should) change depending on the message you’re delivering. Brand tone can shift to accommodate many different situations while still embodying the fundamental aspects of your brand voice.

Why establishing your brand voice is important

A strong, distinctive brand voice is vital for building a brand identity that stands out from the crowd. While a company can certainly go to market without developing a brand voice, it will usually struggle to gain traction and mindshare in a competitive media landscape.

Here are a few reasons why you can’t afford to leave your brand voice to chance:

Increases brand awareness

A unique brand voice helps organizations break through the noise so that customers will recognize them quickly and remember them when it matters most. There’s an age-old marketing principle that it takes an average of seven interactions with a brand before a customer will make a purchase. Increasing brand awareness speeds that process along by creating more interactions across the digital landscape.

Builds trust

Customers are more likely to buy from brands that they know and trust. In fact, one recent survey found that 81 percent of customers needed to trust a brand before they could buy from them. Another study found that 46 percent of US customers would actually pay more to buy from a brand they trusted.

Helps you be consistent

Without a defined brand voice, your messaging can come across as confusing and unprofessional. You might think that no one will notice such irregularities, but research has found that presenting your brand consistently can increase revenue by as much as 33 percent.

Clarifies your values

Company values have a major impact on customer behavior. Over the last decade, customers have taken a keen interest in what organizations claim to stand for, with research showing that 77 percent of customers prefer to buy from companies that share their values. Refining your brand voice can make your purpose and mission clear to customers looking to build a lasting relationship that matters to them.

Two explorers on top of a globe using telescopes to search for their brand's voice, all overtop a green organic shape.

How to find your brand’s voice

While finding your brand’s voice may seem like a difficult task, there are a few things you can do to hone your voice into something that embodies your brand. Identifying your target audience, thinking about the future, and articulating your core mission and values can go a long way toward determining how to position your brand’s voice.

Research your target audience

If your brand is built around appeals to a specific demographic, it’s important to pinpoint what type of messaging will connect with that target audience. If you aren’t sure of your brand’s audience, it can easily be found through surveys and research.

For example, if you find your brand is more geared toward the Y and Z generations, using an informal voice in content might be a good fit. If your brand draws in Generation X and older, a more formal voice could be the order of the day.

No matter your findings, brainstorming what will resonate with your target audience can help guide your brand in the direction of finding what voice will be the best fit.

Think about the future

On a similar note, you will want to make sure your brand’s voice is something that can stand the test of time. Having an evergreen brand voice means that your voice will remain vibrant and relevant in any situation.

Avoid leaning too hard into the current trends dominating social media or popular culture. You don’t want your brand to feel dated or out of touch as those trends evolve. Be true to your values and develop a personality that reflects them so your brand will stand on its merits regardless of changing tastes.

Don’t ignore brand values

If you investigate every brand on the market, you’ll find that core values and mission statements are usually at the center of their messaging. That’s why identifying these foundational elements is a great way to find your brand’s voice!

When you are focusing on your core values and your overall mission in each piece of messaging content, it’s easier for audiences to understand what your brand stands for. If your brand already has established values, you’ll need to figure out how your brand’s voice is going to reflect them. When your brand voice echoes your organizational values, it gives audiences something to remember as well, which increases both your brand’s credibility and chances of acquiring a larger following.

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Best practices as you build your brand voice

With so many brands out there, defining your own voice sets your business apart from the competition! Without a way to connect and relate to your audience, your brand can easily get lost in the noise. Even if your brand sits in a super competitive market, sharing your brand’s purpose and personality can be what keeps a customer coming back.

Make the most of your brand voice by following a few best practices:

Make your voice heard

With a good idea of what your brand voice will be, it’s time to start using it! Weaving in brand voice can be easily done through content like blog posts, email campaigns, newsletters, social media platforms, and even photo and video elements. Your team should map out which channels work best to implement your unique voice and start working toward gaining visibility.

Don’t forget to use your brand voice to create messaging for both established and new customers. During the pandemic, 75 percent of US consumers tried a new brand, so it’s critical that you’re always looking to make a good first impression!

Keep it consistent

Since it’s important to maintain consistency, you’ll want to make sure everyone is on the same page. One way to align teams is to create brand guidelines for writing in the specific brand voice so that everyone has a reference point to fall back on if needed. Brand guidelines are also helpful when collaborating with external contributors who may not be familiar with your brand but need to produce content that aligns with your existing messaging.

Another way to keep the brand voice consistent is to assemble a review team for all written content, establish feedback, and finalize copy in the brand voice before sending it to the consumer.

Stay engaged

The best brands are just as good at listening as they are at talking. They don’t just churn out self-centered, tone-deaf content that shows your brand isn’t interested in building genuine relationships with customers. Instead, they use content to start a conversation and create connections that endure over time. This is especially important on social media where brands are expected to interact with customers in ways that feel authentic and respectful.

Social monitoring tools can help you keep your finger on the pulse of conversations related to your brand. By staying engaged and responding when appropriate in your brand voice, you can build trust and credibility with customers as a brand that’s interested in something more than getting people to click or purchase.

Get your voice heard with Canto

As your team works towards developing a unique brand voice, it’s also important to stay consistent with how things are organized as well. Using a digital asset management system like Canto is a fool-proof way to securely store, organize, find, and share all types of digital assets. Team members can also gain access from anywhere, so the images, videos, and graphics they’re using to build content will always be just a click away.

Canto takes brand management a step further by providing a versatile digital style guide feature that makes it easy to store and distribute your brand guidelines. By creating a single source of truth for your brand directly within your DAM platform, you can ensure that everyone is using the right colors, fonts, logos, and icons throughout branded content, all while maintaining a consistent brand voice.

To learn more about how Canto helps organizations take control of their brand assets and strengthen their brand voice, sign up today for a free trial.