How to create your brand voice to engage customers
When customers talk to you or your staff, is your communication a reflection of your company identity? Does it reinforce your brand?
When we talk about branding, we tend to focus on the visual elements that make up a brand identity, but there are many other facets of your brand that will influence people’s perceptions of your company.
Your voice is one of the most important aspects of your brand and it has the power to turn your audience into loyal customers. Any time you send an email, answer a customer support call or speak to people face-to-face, you’re saying something about your brand, and that’s just the beginning.
Unfortunately, even some of the biggest brands make mistakes when it comes to communicating with their customers - especially when it comes to embracing online communications, such as WhatsApp or other Messaging services and platforms, with boundaries between the personal and professional getting even more blurred.
In this article, we’ll break down how to develop a clear brand voice and how to use it to connect with customers at every possible touchpoint.
Finding Defining Your Voice
Your brand voice is a bit like your personality. It tells people something about who you are and what you stand for.
Companies that have a strong brand voice don’t leave it to chance. They take active steps to define what and how they want to communicate and document it in detail so that every point of contact with customers is positive, on brand and consistent.
When defining your brand voice, a good place to start is by speaking to your customers. What are they interested in? What are their beliefs and values? How do they speak? Does this change across channels? What are their expectations when they engage with brands? What are their perceptions of your company and what makes them care about your company and your product or service? Is this aligned with what you want to stand for?
Whilst you should always remain true to your brand to create an authentic experience, the more you can align your voice with the language your audience uses, the easier it will be for potential customers to identify with you.
Once you’ve done your research, write down brand voice guidelines detailing what your brand represents and illustrate this with examples of what your brand should sound like. Every employee should get a copy of this with instructions for how to communicate in writing and verbally to ensure they accurately represent your company.
When Should You Use Your Brand Voice?
That’s a bit of a trick question. Every single point of contact with your customer is an opportunity to use your brand voice, because in every single instance you should be representing and reinforcing your brand.
Some touchpoints might be obvious, but many are easy to overlook. Here’s a list to get you started, but depending on your business, there may be other places to consider:
Customer letters, even invoices
Customer service emails, phone calls and chats
Your product packaging
In store communications
Written cues and descriptions within your digital product
In person conversations at events and meetings
Public speaking opportunities
Simply being aware of all the places that your voice is being heard is the first step toward creating a solid brand. Take a few minutes to think about all the different ways that people can interact with your company to create your own list, think about whether there are channel-specific nuances to take into account for different channels and then take active steps to ensure your brand voice is being accurately communicated across.
A Note on Tone
If your voice is the personality of your brand, your tone is the mood. Generally speaking, your voice should remain consistent, meaning your brand always represents the same character. Your tone however, can and should adapt, just like your mood would change depending on your situation. Even if you have a very playful voice, you can adjust your tone to be appropriate for serious situations.
A different tone of voice is generally called for on different platforms as well. For example, the way you communicate over Whatsapp will probably be more short and casual than how you communicate over email - but they should feel consistent!
This is where good judgement and good training comes in. Employees should understand how to adapt their tone when communicating with customers in different situations and through different platforms. In addition, and this should go without saying, all your staff should be armed with the information they need to be able to accurately respond to customer queries.
Never underestimate the power and value of training every single employee, because if the people on the ground that interact with your customers on a daily basis cannot represent you and what you want to stand for, it will hurt your brand, but more importantly, your customers will turn elsewhere where they feel better understood and looked after.