Speak Up: Building a Brand Voice For Your Business.

 

In any business venture you have many decisions to make. Type? Mission? Name? Hours of operation? Etc. The good news is that since you’ve decided to start a business or just want to improve an existing one, then you have overcome your first major hurdle.

So what’s the next step? Before you can start to market your services and dive head first into social media to let the world know how great you are, you first have to define your brand’s voice.

What do we mean by a brand voice? More than simply words and phrases, your ‘brand voice’ is the overall tone of your business and how you connect with your customers. It’s important that you craft a voice which clearly identifies with your business and its customers.

Here’s some good news: it’s time to get creative! Your voice can be whatever you want it to be. Formal? Humorous? Conversational?

So now the big question: how do you establish your own brand voice? Consider that it will impact all of your business communications, which means you will need to spend some time on it. Sounds daunting?

Not to worry! It’s easier than you may think, especially if you review the following.

 

Know Your Audience

What does your customer look like? What are their interests? You can’t begin to develop your brand voice if you don’t have a clear picture of your audience. More than simple demographics, you really need to take a deep dive into who they are, how they talk and what they believe. Customers have more options than ever these days to find products and services that align with their own values and interests. If you can’t define your customers and what they want, someone else will.

Say you own a store that sells clothing and gear for babies and toddlers. Your brand voice would naturally include a reassuring tone, friendly, even nurturing. You want new parents in your community to see you as a trusted resource for baby clothing, baby gear and other items to make the parenting experience easier.

 

Know Yourself

What is your brand? What are your company’s values? In order to successfully market your business and create a cohesive tone, you absolutely have to know everything about your business. Whether you’re a huge conglomerate or a small home-based startup with one employee, effective outward communication starts within. Consider this step your communication mission statement. What image do you want your business to reflect? Only you know.

Say you are a former Army Ranger or Marine and recently launched a CrossFit gym based on the kinds of day-to-day fitness challenges you experienced on deployments in Afghanistan.  Well then you might want to create a brand voice that has a rugged, never-say-die quality. The business is built on your identity, after all. The more your brand voice reflects that the truer it will be to your experience and the more it will resonate with customers.

 

Know Your Competition

The next step after identifying who you are and what your business represents is to know everything about your competitors. Unless you are creating an entirely new space, you will need to spend time researching the marketplace. Will you copy others or will you create unique content? Clear messaging is crucial but you must first decide what that messaging will be and if it will be presented differently from those who have come before.

For instance, say you are a custom software development company but instead of working with disruptive technology companies like your competition you tend to focus on older, more traditional companies in need of software modernization. In that case, your brand voice would skew toward a more mature, level-headed and even conservative tone and style designed to appeal to executives in traditional industries like manufacturing, distribution and financial services.

 

Be Flexible

The marketplace is dynamic. Businesses like yours have to be ready to adapt and change quickly. Maybe a new disruptive product is being launched or a new app is forcing you to create a new strategy as you currently only exist in brick and mortar. Whatever the change is, you must be prepared and that includes adjusting tone and style of your brand voice as needed. What worked yesterday may not work today and likely won’t work tomorrow.

For example, today we are seeing a steady push toward egalitarianism in the marketplace so adopting a male-centric voice may not work unless you happen to be selling athletic gear designed exclusively for men. Even The Home Depot’s brand voice, while still distinctly male, has softened to encompass the female DIYers that make up their customer base.

Bottom line: Your brand voice matters. To make yours stand out from the competition, be authentic to who you are and, most importantly, who your customers are and what they expect from you. A fine-tuned brand voice will allow you to speak much louder than your competitors and it will help you to resonate better with your customers, you just need to take the time to find it.

 

About Dave Bennett: Dave is a marketing and communications professional at Manzer Communications. He supports clients with social media, blogging and tech marketing and tech PR activities. Manzer Communications is a digital marketing agency in Austin for tech companies companies seeking rapid, sustained growth. Some of the services provided include content marketing, social media strategy and PPC, email marketing, and media relations.

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