Imagine walking into your local Chinese restaurant, finding the perfect place to sit, only to be told Italian food is on the menu. Not only will this mixed message leave you confused (and even more hungry), it’s unlikely you'll visit again.
So imagine the confusion when a potential client hops onto your website or social media channel to find your brand’s visual imagery doesn’t match its service/product, or your personality doesn’t reflect your brand values.
Albert Mehrabian's rule claims that successful communication is made up of three parts: the words you use, your tone of voice and your body language.
So with that in mind, here's my top tips on how to find your brand's voice:
1. Perception is everything
How do you want your brand to be perceived. Do you want to be seen as lighthearted and fun? Strong and dependable?
The way you want your brand to be perceived should ultimately define the way you choose to communicate. Lifting a question posed in an earlier OPELLO blog: if your brand was a person how would you describe them?
OPELLO Likes: Innocent is a brand whose personality is communicated clearly and with consistency.
2. Ask your audience
You might assume your audience will appreciate Buzzfeed-style listicles, GIFs and colloquial language, but if you haven’t actually asked them their opinion it’s dangerous to assume.
Developing audience personas is a great way to find out what your customers want, and one of the best ways to create a persona is through a survey.
It sounds incredibly simple, but just by asking your intended audience about the type of industry content they like you can get a feel for the tone and style that will resonate with them.
3. Create a style guide
Dislike the use of highfalutin words like…well, highfalutin? Put it in a style guide.
A style guide is a set of detailed instructions for anybody writing and editing content for your business. This should be put together once your brand's personality has been defined.
4. Find a balance in your personality
Loved this example provided by Marketing blogger James Simpson:
'Let’s say your company sells energy drinks and you’re trying to appeal to men. So you decide to go for a stereotypically masculine tone.
You’re a man. Our product will make you feel not tired.
Harness the power of Zeus himself, thrust forth and burst your boundless energy over the world like the steel-balled stallion you are.'
The best way to find the balance for your brand is to produce a few different pieces of copy, some in which you think you’re overdoing it, some at the other end of the scale, and some that fall roughly in the middle.
Show these pieces of copy to your select group of internal people and ask for feedback. From there you should be able to come to a group decision about what is and isn’t acceptable when it comes to your tone of voice.
Take away notes
Finding your brand's voice is all about getting to know your audience, working out the overarching way in which you want your business to communicate with them and then fine-tuning your voice until the balance is right.