Freelance copywriter and self-proclaimed Wordsmith Extraordinaire (we do agree that she is pretty extraordinary with words, though) Bethany Joy put Digital Gaggle’s audience through their paces during her interactive session ‘How To Find Your Brand Voice’.
Based in Oxford, Bethany helps ‘passionate people with big ideas find the words they need to get got’ and has worked with a myriad of diverse clients ranging from Imperial College London to MailPimps to Y.O.U. Underwear. During her talk at the conference, she raised a number of questions on brand voice and business identity - this is how she tackled them...
What is brand voice?
Brand voice is the language you use to show who you are as a business; a writing style that shows the personality of your business. According to Bethany, nailing your brand voice is a priority because this is how you’re presenting your business to the world.
As language is so powerful, all the words you associate with your business - whether on your website, emails, blog, flyers, social media, and more - are communicating an idea about who your business is. Your brand voice is a collective voice anchored in your authentic self, so you want to use it to depict what your brand is actually like.
A slide from Bethany's presentation
Why is brand voice important?
Brand voice is important because, as Bethany pointed out, by having a brand you automatically have a brand voice, so you either have a great one or a not-so-great one. Therefore, finding your brand voice involves making a conscious effort to refine and utilise that voice to truly show the passion behind the brand. It's concerned with selecting the right words in order to communicate with customers in a unique and compelling way - it’s not just about what you say but also how you say it.
If brand voice is all about the business, where does the consumer come into things?
Nailing your brand voice is essential in any business as it’s how you’re presenting it to the world; you have to develop a specific tone of voice based on who you are and who you want to connect and share content with.
One of Bethany’s useful tips is to carefully consider the language your customers use and understand this when developing your brand voice. For example, using slang in your branding if you’re trying to attract an older audience will ring onto deaf ears; or, if your target market is less niche and for a general group of people, using complicated jargon will turn people away from your brand. Clarity will allow you to effectively communicate with the kind of audiences you want to reach.
Can I have fun with brand voice on social media?
Bethany insists that for your brand voice to be truly compelling, it must be consistent across all platforms. For example, it wouldn’t make sense for a hospice to have a serious yet compassionate voice across all of their copy but be silly on social media.
Although you can have fun on social media and it can be used to show your business in a different light, your brand voice must be recognisable in a number of different contexts. It may be useful to draw up a style guide for you and your employees to refer to when creating content in order to ensure this coveted consistency.
Five key takeaways on building a brand voice:
Bethany left the Digital Gaggle audience with some food for thought in regards to how they are currently using their brand voice and how they can streamline that brand voice to more accurately represent their business. Here’s how she suggests you can go about it:
- Look at your current voice
- Clarify your identity and audience
- Define your desired voice
- Flesh out your chosen voice
- Develop simple guidelines
Closing the talk, she aptly quoted Maya Angelou to emphasise the power of language as beyond the words we use: ‘People don’t always remember what you say or even what you do, but they always remember how you made them feel.’