No matter how big or how new your company is, your brand voice is the guiding light for how you present your brand to the world. Your social media brand voice is what comes when you have a clear brand voice guideline.
People build trust through your consistent and clear brand voice. When your brand voice encompasses your company’s mission and values, you humanize your brand so people can relate to you.
Without a brand voice, people can turn away from your company in an instant and connect with a competitor that they can relate to, be inspired by, or simply just vibe with! With that, we see the importance of developing a clear social media brand voice.
Here’s how to find your brand voice in 5 steps:
- Audit yourself and the company
- Find your inspiration
- Create personas
- Research competitors
- Start Talking (Develop Brand Artifacts)!
What is a brand voice?
How your brand communicates to people is what we call a brand voice.
From the way you write blog posts, to the phrase you use to sign off on emails, to the style you choose for your Instagram posts – your brand voice is infused in everything your company says to the world.
Why a strong brand voice matters
↗️ Sense of direction
A clear brand voice gives you a sense of direction for the future of your company. A purposeful brand voice also acts as a guiding principle in everything you do for your customers, readers, and employees.
🧑🤝🧑 Build trust
Your audience will begin to recognize your company’s brand voice when your voice is consistent across all channels of communication. They’ll return to your company because of the familiarity you give them, or the expected “howdy” in the emails you send them, they’ll know it’s you.
So, when your authentic self shines through your brand voice, your audience will build that trust in your company.
💖 Connect with your audience
You can connect with your audience by speaking the language of your audience. In fact, when you show them that your company’s relatable, dependable and trustworthy, they’ll feel emotionally connected with you. This builds on the fact that they must first trust your brand!
Developing a brand voice is more than a marketing strategy, it’s about building the necessary trust and connection with your audience.
Now that you know how important a brand voice is, let’s dive into the 6 steps.
1. Audit yourself and the company
Do an audit to determine your brand voice. We can do an internal and external audit. Let’s start by looking internally.
Let’s start with yourself and the company’s 3 core components: Your “Why”, your mission, and your values.
Your brand story is essentially your “why”. It’s everything that’s led up to you starting the company and starting your brand. It’s the gap you saw in the market – perhaps something that was missing on YouTube or a certain niche wasn’t being fulfilled in the marketplace.
Your brand story is also influenced by the individuals who sparked your brand creation in the first place. It’s the story you tell to your audience about how you disrupted the status quo.
For instance, here at blanka, we saw a gap in the market. We saw the headaches that entrepreneurs face when trying to launch their private label businesses. Negotiating with overseas suppliers, high minimum order quantities, and nightmare shipping logistics were just some of the obstacles up-and-coming entrepreneurs had to overcome.
We wanted to create a seamless platform that allows entrepreneurs to focus on the fun aspects of starting a private label business, and not have to worry about any of the operational hassles that typically come along.
We built blanka so entrepreneurs can focus on building their brands seamlessly. So, what’s your story?
The mission statement is a summary of what you want to accomplish, why you want to do it at all, and how you’re going to accomplish it.
In 2019, Patagonia, the outdoor gear and apparel retailer, recently changed their mission statement from:
“Build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis.”
“We’re in business to save our home planet”
Their initial mission statement stated the what, why, and how. A transparent, authentic mission statement that was clear and concise.
Although their updated, concise statement doesn’t explicitly say how they’re going to save our home planet, their brand voice is consistent and transparent enough over the years that people know them. So transparent that they have a web page dedicated for visitors to get up close and personal with how their supply chain runs, how their materials impact the earth, and more.
After 47 years of being in business, people recognized Patagonia’s voice as an activist for the environment. Their transparency as a part of their brand voice aligns closely with their mission statement.
When you strip your brand story and mission statement to its core values, can you think of 3-6 statements that represent your brand authentically?
Take a look through your existing public facing content and copy, as well as your internal documents. What similarities do they share? Peek around at your current engagement on social media platforms, are there certain words or phrases that resonate with your audience the most? Any images or colors that boost discussion or shares?
If you do find similarities and engaging qualities of your copy externally and internally, use them to define your brand voice.
Here are some guiding questions to help you get started on your brand and personality audit:
- How do we want our audience to feel when they consume our content? You want to think about how you can tie emotion and feeling to your brand voice.
- If your brand was a PERSON, how would you want them to be perceived?
- Write 3-4 adjectives that describe the authentic YOU. The Do’s and Don’ts exercise is going to be super helpful for this one. Take a look at how Shopify uses this exercise in their brand and voice guideline.
This exercise can help you get aligned with how you want your company to sound and how you don’t want your company to sound. A simple exercise, but highly effective.
2. Find your inspiration
Find 2-4 companies who are killing it in the branding and marketing game. They are your inspiration to what you want your company to lean towards.
Think about where you want your company to head. You can watch how those companies communicate to their audiences through social media platforms, advertisements, and email campaigns. You can envision how your social media brand voice can shift society’s perspective or change the world in some way.
Some crowd favorites:
Dove Beauty Care – Empowering, inclusive, and inspirational messages spread through Dove’s social media brand voice. On Instagram and Twitter, they’re not shy to spread awareness on topics like online bullying, body-shaming or celebrating different body shapes.
Fenty Beauty – Bold, unapologetic, and youthful, Fenty Beauty displays an ethnic variety of women on their Instagram page. With some use of memes to capture their millennial and Gen Z audiences, Fenty Beauty uses their platform to express their support for cruelty free makeup and creating products that match all skin tones.
Kotn – Conscious, minimal, and honest, Kotn expresses their mission through a transparent social media brand voice. They emphasize and spread awareness of their environmental responsibility through their social impact projects. Through their timeless pieces of sustainable clothing, they tell a story that matters to the world. Their Instagram shows minimalist colours and unapologetic messages they believe in.
3. Create personas
You have to know who you’re talking to! Create a fictional representation of your ideal customer. By niching down to a specific demographic of people instead of catering to the masses, this will greatly benefit your brand exposure.
In addition, creating 1-2 buyer personas will guide you in how you want to communicate with your customer, for example, how your marketing campaigns would run, or what your Instagram page would look like.
You would probably talk to a 60 year old grandma a little differently than how you would talk to a 30 year old tech entrepreneur.
You can start by understanding their core demographics.
- How old are they?
- What’s their income?
- Where do they live?
- How do they identify themselves?
- What kind of jobs do they do?
Once you have an idea of their basic demographics, you can start asking deeper questions to understand their needs, desires, and pain points.
- What’s not working for them in their lives right now? How can your product improve their life in some way?
- What are their favorite brands?
- What are their hobbies?
- How do they purchase something? What does that buyer journey look like?
- What are their values?
As you dive deeper into what your buyer persona looks like, write a complete portfolio description about them so your company can look back and review that ideal customer from time to time.
And you know what? Have fun with this process! Include a photo! Give your ideal customer a name: “Beauty guru Trevor” or “Wine Mom Nora”.
Once you know your ideal customer’s needs, behaviors, and pain points, you can communicate with them in a way that they’ll listen. Whether your ideal customers are on TikTok or LinkedIn, you’ll find the best way to reach them!
4. Research competitors
It’s never a bad idea to take a peek at what your competitors are doing!
- What’s working for them in their marketing campaigns?
- What social media platforms are they on?
- How often are they posting?
- Who are their top followers?
- Which types of social media posts are the most engaging with their audience?
- How do they engage and communicate with their audience right now?
Using social media monitoring platforms like BuzzSumo can help you gauge your competitor’s analytics in a simple dashboard. Gather important analytics like how your competitors are being mentioned on social media, how their growth changes from day to day, season to season.
When you get to know your competitors, you can begin to shape how you want to present your brand in the same online spaces with your competitors. What can you do differently? What can your brand offer that no one else can offer?
5. The next steps: start talking (develop brand artifacts)!
After you’ve done the audit, answered the guiding questions, and compiled information on your user persona and competitors, you’ve got your brand identity!
Now, you can start talking and produce consistent brand artifacts.
We really loved Agile Partnering’s definition of what a brand artifact is:
“Company culture is the ongoing expression of a company’s values through its artifacts. An artifact is any memorable event or object that is created by any member of the company. “
Brand artifacts can be physical or they can be more abstract.
Sleep pods on Google’s Campus are a physical brand artifact. It sends a message that as a company, Google values the health and wellness of their employees.
A more abstract artifact could be an incredible parent-friendly policy like Reddit’s, with nearly 100% return rate of new parents. Reddit provides 16 weeks of paid leave for birth, adoptive, or foster parents, pays for adoption assistance, fertility testing, and egg freezing. With a policy like this, it shows that Reddit values a healthy work-life balance for their employees, ultimately encompassing what their company culture is.
So if Agile Partnering states that an artifact is created by any team member of the company, you can start to see that anything your team creates, whether it’s a blog post, a brand logo, an Instagram story, each of these pieces are contributing to your brand artifacts. Your company’s core voice and values should seep through all the artifacts created.
Start by crafting your branding guidelines with our template to be the single source of truth for your brand voice. From there, you can move onto creating assets for your website, writing copy for your email campaigns, or designing ads for Facebook.
Never lose sight of the values you want to instill in your company. It all starts with establishing your brand voice. In no time, you’ll be consistent and people will start to take notice and listen to your brand speak.