Brand Voice – Setting the Tone
Your Brand Voice is the essence of how your audience experiences you in your outward expressions.
Once you are familiar with your Brand Personality and have defined the experience traits you would like your customers to experience when working with you – nailing down your brand voice should be easy peasy.
Tone of voice vs experience traits
So, you may be thinking: what’s the difference between personality, experience traits, tone of voice and…Brand Voice?
The easiest way I can explain this is to say that tone of voice is really what will hit your audience’s gut like a brick wall and will stop them in their tracks. It’s the stuff that’s not said…the reading between the lines. It’s when something just feels “off”.
Experience traits are the physical actions and emotive things you want your customer to feel or have the benefit of, as a result of working with you. (E.g. encouraged, supported, confident, bold.)
Setting your tone of voice
If you want a quick, easy route to nailing your tone of voice, try my Tone of Voice Grid. You basically plot where on this 4-quadrant your tone of voice sits.
The tone of voice quadrants mean…
Q1: Provocative, edgy humorous, designed to spur a reaction
Q2: Relaxed, family-friendly humorous, designed to be approachable & engaging
Q3: Professional, Clear, Decisive, designed to be relatively emotion-less and fact based.
Q4: High-level, complex, intense, designed to deliver insight/analysis
You take your coloured dot and literally plot it to where you think you are on the grid. Once you have your quadrant, you can then embellish and add to your quadrant’s description to make it more “you”.
For me, I have plotted my orange dot where my tone of voice sits. The description I use for my tone of voice is this:
Relaxed, family-friendly humorous, designed to be approachable and engaging. My brand is a little quirky, but always polite and even-toned. It matches my personality which comes across as Knowledgeable, Curious and Creative.
Brand Voice is made up of 3 elements
When I work with brand builders on their Brand Compass, we nail down their Brand Voice by looking at three areas:
1. Tone of voice (the feeling)
This is the “between the lines” gut feeling that people get when they hear anything you say, read anything you write or watch any videos you may produce. Using my tone of voice grid above will help you to nail this down.
2. Grammar (the structure of how you say what you say)
This is tricky to just list out – but once you start, you can add to this list over time. You will have some specific things that rattle your cage and you don’t like seeing in communication or marketing, or you will have a way in which you PREFER things to be done.
Example: I am particular about how I like ampersands (“&”) to be used, and when people use ellipses (…) – I like them to stick to three dots and use sparingly. You may also be in favour of shorter clipped sentences, as opposed to longer convoluted ones.
3. Terminology (the words and phrases that you use)
While you may think this is by-the-by and not so important but it really is crucial to being able to resonate with your audiences. It is also helpful when delegating to team members or outsourced providers.
Documenting the way in which you like to communicate things is good where you have an industry where you are really specific on what you DO NOT like to use.
Example: I don’t like using the term “gurus” – I imagine a floating little wise, humming man with a turban (and not a “expert” which is what people like to think this means).
Benefits of a defined Brand Voice
Properly defining your Brand Voice so you can communicate it well to your team members means:
- It will be like your tuning fork going forward (like the musician’s use to tune their instruments – gives you a way of knowing when you are off course)
- It will help you to make better communication decisions (it gives you a way of filtering certain activities and know that they are not right for you, and similarly which are outstanding opportunities for you)
- Secures consistency in how you express yourself (which aids longer term credibility for your audiences)
- Reduces friction for your audiences (they can clearly understand and don’t question whether you are being “true” or not)
We work on your overall brand tone of voice as well as crafting all the nitty gritty details of how that plays into your visual and verbal communication (copy, design, etc) within the Brand Compass Programme – have a look and see if that’s something you’d be interested in doing with me.
Bitesize Insights & Truths on Branding for Micro-Businesses.