Be a host, not a vending machine – developing a brand voice

Today’s consumers crave information, scarfing it down with abandon. But they want something else even more: connection.

You can put out the most relatable, useful, timely content in the world, but if any of it seems as if it’s dispensed from a vending machine rather than a person, consumers will eat it up without engaging, minimizing the effectiveness of your hard work. To give them information and a connection, you need to create a voice for your brand, becoming a host who sits around the table talking with them about what you’ve created and how you can provide them with value.

Creating a persona

Your goal is to make your brand sound like a person, and that starts with deciding what kind of person your brand would be. Define its disposition with adjectives such as optimistic, conscientious, adventurous, motivating, a little nerdy, life of the party, matter of fact, or anything else that feels like it fits.

Then, dig deeper so you and your team have a clear, vivid picture. If the brand were a person, determine what he or she likes and dislikes. Brand Jones might adore water sports, college football, and sipping whiskey around a bonfire, and absolutely despise anchovies, folding laundry, and people who drive slow in the passing lane. These seemingly silly details allow you to humanize the message you’re putting out into the world without appearing manufactured or gimmicky.

Understanding tone

Once your character has come alive in your head, it’s time to figure out how he or she sounds. This is tone, and tone shifts and changes depending on the interaction. Decide how this person you’ve created would speak to a happy customer, an angry one, a person looking for more information, someone making a quip on their Instagram account, and any other interaction you can conceive of that may occur between your brand and its customers.

Pinpoint specific turns of phrase the character would use in normal conversation and the type of language they gravitate toward. Do they have a dry sense of humor, or are they a bit buttoned up? Do they love to compliment people, or are they more affectionately jokey? These details help you maintain consistency across all of your accounts and with your team, no matter who’s tweeting, writing posts, adding captions, or responding to customers.

Being realistic

Although you’re trying to create a person for your base to engage with, you can’t simply come up with someone who you think is relatable and call it a day. Your brand’s voice needs to fit your overall goals and be someone who your customer base wants to talk to. You could create the sweetest, most helpful mom voice in the world, but if you’re targeting jet setting childless millennials, it’s going to fall flat.

Look at your current customers’ social media accounts, and engage with your customers in-store. Break down and define their language and mannerisms, keep track of what they’re talking about and what they’re interested in outside of your product or service, and work this information into your voice.

Developing a brand voice provides consumers with both information and connection, encouraging them to market for you. Engaged customers talk about your business and the brand you’ve personified, creating new content for you and expanding your visibility. Remember: you aren’t a vendor dolling out content and product for the masses; you’re a friendly face inviting them into your world and creating a beneficial relationship.


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