As a marketer, it’s not enough that you know what you’re selling. It’s important to know who you are as well—or, more specifically—who your brand is.
We might hate to admit it, but at some point in our marketing careers, we have all questioned what our brand stands for, or if what it stands for is still the best way to go. As the marketing landscape changes, as more and more channels become available for our message to be broadcast, the more we should double down on keeping a consistent identity when it comes to our communication.
According to a report from Lucidpress, brands that have consistency in presentation are 3 to 4 times more likely to experience brand visibility. Furthermore, brand consistency is also attributed to increasing the revenue of brands by 23% on average.
The secret to keeping this consistency is developing your organization’s brand voice. Or, if you’re more established, re-assessing if your brand voice is still relevant. (According to Unilever’s David Porter, if your company is 10 to 15 years old, it’s built wrong for today.)
But what is a brand voice? In a nutshell, it is your company’s personality and culture, your sense of being, imbued into your brand communication. It is different from tone, as tone is the emotional inflection applied to your voice per communication material. Tone is adjustable, but your brand voice MUST be consistent.
So how do you determine your brand voice?
Start with the basics. Start with Why.
The first thing you have to do is reflect on who you are as a company.
The video went viral a decade ago, and you may already have heard of it, but Simon Sinek’s TED talk on “How Great Leaders Inspire Action” may be worth revisiting.
The main takeaway of the talk: A solid voice emanates from a clear purpose.
As an exercise, try whipping out a paper or a whiteboard and try to describe your brand based on what you deem it to be. Describe your brand in one sentence. (This should be able to answer the “Who are you as a brand?” question and should be useful for elevator pitches.)
From there, list down three (3) adjectives that describe your brand’s best qualities. These will be your brand characteristics and will guide your voice and tone in your communication materials.
If you are able to talk about your brand in the shortest but clearest way possible, then you know you’ve focused your core brand identity.
Develop brand guidelines
Does your brand have a brand bible? Whether printed or in digital form, there must be a manual that dictates all the intricacies of how you package your brand.
Creating a brand bible (or brand guide) helps ensure that standards are met and maintained. They are guidelines that cover everything—from words used, to your personality, to your visual assets like logos and brand colors. (The University of Loyola says that color increases brand recognition by up to 80%.)
Your brand shouldn’t be open to interpretation and customization. The best brands are those that have fully-fleshed their personalities to the point that from their marketing alone—even without their logo or name at the start—you can already tell who they are.
However, the only way you can develop trust and loyalty with customers is through time. You can only make long-lasting impressions through consistent messaging, so you shouldn’t be in a hurry to let people know “who you are.”
Align your brand voice internally
As you solidify your company culture, don’t forget that things shouldn’t all be outward-facing. Make sure that your employees and your company culture emulate your brand voice.
For existing employees, devote some time to training and refresher courses. For new hires, you might want to look at what Starbucks does with its Green Apron Book.
Starbucks’ Green Apron Book is one of the first things a new barista gets once joining their company. It’s called a Green Apron Book as it fits right in the pocket of their green aprons. The book serves as a little reference tool to what Starbucks is as a company, and it contains insights on how the company works and how every customer should be treated.
Brands work because of people. And to maximize the potential of your brand voice, you have to make sure that everyone in your company has a solid grasp of it.
As you market your brand, you have to make sure that the content you produce is aligned with your voice. The Harvard Business Review says that 64% of consumers consider clear brand values as the reason why they have relationships with brands. At times, the best way is to get professionals to handle your content.
It’s perfectly fine for small and big companies alike to ask for guidance with those whose expertise is communications marketing.
Let them know your purpose, tell them your desired tone, your guidelines, and culture. With their help, your brand voice can be focused but at the same time, wide-reaching. For example, content marketing and sponsored content allow you to communicate 50+ messages vs. 4-5 via paid media, therefore making it easier for you to target a myriad of consumer types.
Influencers would also help, especially in today’s digital culture. But you have to select them wisely. If you are a more technical brand, see if they can talk about your product correctly. And before that, of course, if their audience is even your target market. Does their personality match your brand? Does their voice complement your brand voice?
Again, a brand voice is the foundation of successful marketing. It is where great campaigns arise. It is the personality that customers would see. Establish your brand voice and make sure to keep it consistent. And don’t forget, there’s nothing wrong with asking for some help, too.
Finding and hiring the right content partners for your brand is a crucial step that may require you to reach out to people who can point you towards the right direction. GetCraft's network of more than 5,000 content creators across Southeast Asia is a great place to start looking.