How to create a thoughtful and well-defined brand voice for your digital presence

Every company needs a thoughtful and well-defined brand voice.

This will help you stand out in the endless sea of digital brands, products, and services. It also will help connect you with your audience, and stay true to your brands message, product, and purpose. 

Digital Marketing
A business professional using a smartphone to get the job done.

A well-crafted brand voice speaks the same language as your users. This common language, combined with a focused content marketing strategy will make a huge impact on conversion rates.  

If you never took the time to develop a brand voice for your company, now is the time. Don't worry. You are not alone. In the Marketers Hierarchy of Needs, two foundational best practices are almost always skipped; building audience profiles and defining a unified brand voice. 

Here are a few tips for building (and retaining) a strong, purposeful, and consistent brand voice:


Ask yourself the big questions... every, single time.


Before writing new copy or implementing new campaigns, sit down and ask yourself some big, potentially tricky questions.

  • What critical problem do you solve for your customers?
  • What does your company stand for?
  • What are the 3-6 things you and your team value above all else and why?
  • What is your brand’s raison d'être—its higher purpose or reason for being?

Be as honest with yourself as possible when answering these questions, and avoid cliched answers like “change the world with X product,” “disrupt Y industry,” or “spread awareness for Z cause.” Focus on what your company—and your company alone—does best. 

Example: Our marketing manager has a sign on her pinboard that asks; Is it on one topic? Is it direct? Does it offer meaningful examples? Does it share next steps? Is it straightforward and deliberate? 

 

Let the Data Lead


Review all audience data or other digital data you have, such as audience or user research, Google Analytics, and SEO/search data. If you don’t have these resources, get creative with your sources. Figure out where, when, and how people talk about your brand online so you can understand current consumer perceptions of your company or product and adjust your editorial brand strategy accordingly. 

Knowing your audience also allows you to quickly change the conversation between services or products. You may have multiple audiences, which means you may have multiple messages.

Example: Our clients are primarily experienced marketing professionals who are looking for real-world solutions and first-hand advice. However, because we have multiple platform partners, some of our advertising speaks towards the difficulties or opportunities around technology, which may involve a different audience, such as IT professionals or platform-specific developers. That means we need to speak towards their needs and requirements as well. 

 

Don't just use words. Find the right words.


Identify the words, phrases, or feelings you want associated (or not associated) with your brand name.

  • What should people feel (or not) feel after a brand interaction?
  • When a customer sees your brand name in the wild, what ideas, concepts, or aspirations do you want them to experience?

One quick way to help find the words is to create a word bank. Jot down up to 50 words that you want people to associate with your brand or that your brand might use in marketing communications. Try not to filter yourself when making this list; go with your instincts and let the words flow out. Then, cut that list down 15-20 words that you or your copywriter can pull from or use as inspiration when crafting content.

Pro Tip: Try to be as genuine to your brand as possible. For example, if your office and sales team is charismatic, try to capture that within your digital materials so the tone of your brand rolls across the entire sales cycle through customer support. 

 

Sweat the Small Stuff


A “unified” brand voice is one that is consistent in mechanics and punctuation as well as in language. Don’t underestimate the importance of being consistent in its usage. Be sure to set guidelines for grammar, punctuation, sentence structure, word order, and other mechanics that can affect brand voice, user comprehension, and overall message delivery. 

 

Put Yourself in Your Clients Shoes

Always consider the situational context and various emotional states your customers may experience when interacting with your brand. Map out the different customer journeys and consider the psychological/emotional contexts consumers might be in at each stage. Use this a guide for when to be funny, delightful, and lighthearted versus serious and straightforward.

Example: If your client is in a jam and needs help, can you appeal to that emotional state from search result to contact form you will have resonated with your user and let them know that you are here for them. 

 

Set Your Standards—and Keep Them


Now, create a set of brand voice guidelines that capture who you want your brand to be and how it will communicate with consumers in the real world. Document what it feels like to interact with the brand. Which words to use and not use, examples of what to write vs. not write, brand characteristics or personality traits, and how language and phrasing change in various contexts.

 

Audit & Apply

Audit your website, social channels, email marketing, metadata/search presence, transactional communications, and anywhere else in which marketing messaging appears. Review it for consistency, brand voice and tone, and user experience/customer experience. Document your findings (in a spreadsheet or just a notebook), reflect on them as a whole, and start creating a roadmap for how you will take your brand content from where it is to where it needs to be. 

Prioritize the channel or content that needs the most work and craft fresh, on-brand copy that uses words, phrases, ideas, and cultural references that resonate most with your audience and will make them fall in love with your brand.

Pro Tip This is an ongoing exercise that you will need to reflect on for every campaign.

  • How will your audience find you?
  • What words are in your search results?
  • Do you continue the conversation on the landing page?
  • Do you address their needs?

A unified brand voice can significantly impact your audience. Be sure you start small and follow your audience's journey. Afterward, you can modify the voice, tone, and grammar across channels to better connect and capture your brand's purpose.

 

Trust us, copywriting, photography, illustrations, and videos are the most personal and challenging assets to define. Businesses struggle to find the "right" creative assets during every web development and digital marketing project. Let our team help define and strategize you're messaging across all of your marketing channels and activities

If you're interested in discussing how to create a thoughtful and well-defined brand voice across your website and marketing channels, give Lightburn a call to speak to an expert at (414) 347-1866 or via email at contact@lightburn.co.

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