You want your online brand to stand apart from the competition—and that is where your brand voice is crucial. Your online voice is what you present to your audience (shall we say: your first, second, and tenth impression), and what they will associate with your brand. Whether it’s for your company or personal use, maintaining a unique voice is part of creating a killer online brand. So get out a pen and paper (read: iPhone, tablet) and get started!
Know your audience. Who is your target and what are they talking about? What kind of language do they use? Listen to your audience and understand who they are, so you can tailor your content and tone in a way they best understand, find useful, and can engage with.
Develop a brand persona. View your brand as a person—what does it like, where does it hang out, what interests does it have? Create a set of character traits that represents your brand to bring it to life and to shape your voice—is your brand quirky, passionate, adventurous? Drawing on the culture of your brand can help you here—what does your brand stand for and what makes it special?
- Brainstorm. Once you’ve developed a brand persona, outline themes, keywords, jargon, and phrases that fit your brand. Identify your brand tone—are you comedic or informative, playful or educational? This should always be top of mind and all outgoing messages should align with this voice. Make sure your team is on board and understands the language and tone you want to portray. Outlining these language guidelines on a big white board, in an easily accessible Google Doc, or at each person's workstation will help. It is also useful to outline what your voice is not and what language you do not want to use when interacting with your audience or potential customers. This will help to further flesh out the voice you do want to cultivate.
- Be authentic. Your voice should set you apart from others, so be authentic and approachable. If you want to build trust and a relationship with your customers, you need to be real. Your authenticity will allow your brand to be distinctly recognizable among your competitors. Don’t use industry jargon that your audience won’t understand, and don’t constantly sell your brand—be an expert voice that your audience are drawn to, and seek out for valuable content. It is also useful to outline what your voice is not and what language you do not want to use when interacting with your audience or potential customers. This will help to further flesh out the voice you do want to cultivate.
- Be consistent. Develop a way to interact with your customers—how you will respond to questions and comments. You need to employ a consistent voice across all platforms. Every time a customer interacts with you, ensure that you + your team are responding in a consistent manner. Your online voice should also match your offline presence (if you have one). While it is certainly true that each online channel has different users so the content will differ, your brand voice should not be drastically different between your blog and Snapchat. If someone is following you because of the health tips you offer and you start posting political opinions, they will hit “unfollow” pretty quickly.
With a clear understanding of your audience and your brand, you’ll be well on your way to crafting your best online voice and building a strong relationship with your audience.
Written by Leora Zauderer.