4 exercises to create a brand voice that stands out

There are plenty of businesses like yours.

Although each one might be different, most of them copy each other and in the end they don’t differentiate themselves in any way.

If you want to stand out and win not only more customers but also more fans of your brand, you need to reveal your difference, and one sure way to do that is to create a voice with personality for your brand.

Corporate image is super important but many companies or freelancers forget that the brand personality is just as important as a logo.

If you look around, the people who leave a trace are not only stylish but also have their own particular way of expressing themselves.

Well, that’s what we’re going to see right now in this post.

When I start working with a new client who hasn’t got a well-defined brand identity, I ask them to do 4 exercises that will help us create an authentic, coherent and original voice.

And now I’m going to share them with you.

So let’s get down to business!

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Create a brand voice with personality

Let’s take a look at these 4 exercises that will help you create your brand voice and make it stand out from all the clutter on the internet.

1.           The celebrity

Imagine you had all the money in the world to choose a celebrity to be the voice of your brand.

Who would it be?

You can choose a fictional character, someone who is no longer in this world or even a cartoon, too

This exercise rocks because it helps me lots to write effective copy for a client.

Will Smith comes up a lot as an answer, also Leonardo DiCaprio, they are likable guys who seem honest.

People trust them and they’re great at what they do. Well the latter more than the former in my opinion.

There’s a world of possibilities out there for you to choose your own celebrity.

Mine would be a person who is no longer in this world and who was a sassy writer.

Here’s a hint, she wrote the script for an 80’s movie where Meg Ryan faked the best orgasm in the world.

That’s right, it’s Nora Ephron. If you haven’t read her book Heartburn, which was made into a film with Jack Nicholson and Meryl Streep, read it. You’ll have a great time!

I love her style, she writes about everyday life with a clever sense of humour, she never took things too seriously and she knew how to entertain her readers in a respectful way.

That’s why I would choose her to be the voice of my brand.

Now it’s up to you to get your head around it and choose your own celebrity.

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2.           The ambience

Imagine your website is a living room. What would it look like?

Let’s design that living room to help us define what kind of experience you want your website visitors to have.

Don’t be shy about making it luxurious if that’s what you want to convey to your visitors, what’s important is that it coveys the right ambience you want to create for your brand.

– Is it minimalist or vintage?

– Are there plants all over the place suspended from the ceiling with hanging macramé pots?

– Are there big windows with lots of light coming in or do you go for a more mysterious feel with dim lights and dark colours?

– Lots of colour or neutral colours like white, grey or black?

– Are there lots of gadgets?

Close your eyes and imagine it for a few minutes. Then sit down and describe it in as much detail as you can.

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3.           The dinner party

Imagine you are going to a dinner party with people you don’t know.

You probably want everyone to have a certain opinion about you at the end of the evening.

So you’ll act a certain way, choose certain words and topics of conversation, make certain jokes, and generally try to be the most charming, funny, intelligent, or sensitive, etc. version of yourself, depending on which of these traits are most important to you.

If your brand could come to life as a person at a dinner party, what would she be like?

Would she be the cheerful one and the centre of attention?

Or would she prefer more intimate one to one conversations?

Would she talk about literature, football or art?

Would she make people laugh?

Try to define what kind of conversations your brand would initiate or participate in, what kind of jokes she’s make, and so on.

You can also imagine what people would say about your brand when she leaves.

She’s a very cultured person, or she knows lots about this or that, or she’s very sophisticated, so charming when she speaks, etc.

4.           Your brand is not…

A good way to drill down on the values and personality of your brand is to define what it is and what it is not.

This way you can further define that voice and make it stand out in your industry.

Here are some examples of well-known brands:

– Gap is whimsical, but not cheesy

– Pixar films are emotional without appearing to manipulate emotions.

– Jeep buyers are adventurous, but not aggressive.

– eBay is a bit of a sloppy website, but not crappy

– Zara is a cheap brand, but not tacky

Now it’s up to you to think about what your brand is and is not.

If you can’t think of many adjectives, you can get some ideas in this list with 200 adjectives.

Now that we’ve seen the 4 exercises that will help you create your brand voice, let’s look at other aspects that will help you create your business personality.

Recommended reading Brands that provoke clicks<<<<

Tone is not the same as voice

Let’s clarify this just in case. Many people will talk about the tone when what they mean is the voice.

Your brand voice shouldn’t change, well, it can always evolve with your business, just like a person grows.

You aren’t the same as you were 10 years ago. Your experiences have changed you. You know better what you want and the same will happen to your business.

But that change is progressive, not from one day to the next, and that’s exactly what should happen to your brand voice.

It will be constant and will evolve little by little over time and with the direction your business takes.

However, the tone of your brand can (and should) change often.

Because the tone depends on the situation.

Let me give you an example.

Imagine you are buying a jumper you absolutely love and it’s 50% off. You can’t wait to get your credit card out and receive the purchase confirmation.

However, when you’ve already entered your card number and press buy, something has gone wrong and you haven’t been able to finalise the purchase.

Now imagine the error message you receive says something like:

“Oops! We don’t know what happened, but something went wrong. Let’s give the developer a slap on the wrist to make things better… Adios!

You won’t like it!

Firstly, you don’t know if you’ve been charged so you’re panicking and trying to log into your banking app to check and secondly, you wanted that jumper like nothing else in the world and they didn’t tell you if you should try again!

This isn’t the right time to be joking around.

You’d have been much more grateful for a message that would have reassured you, like,

“We’re very sorry but something went wrong. Don’t worry because nothing has been charged to your card. Please try again in a few minutes. Thanks!”

The tone of this message is much more in line with the situation your customer is going through – stress, disappointment, frustration – and they will be much more appreciative.

Notice that the voice is still informal and friendly but the tone of the 2 messages is very different.

Save the puns for other occasions, such as when giving good news.

Like, in the purchase confirmation email, you can allow yourself to make your customer smile because he’s relaxed and you are giving him good news.

“Yay, I’m on my way! I can’t wait to leave the warehouse and live with you. Make room in your closet for me!”

This more funny tone matches the customer’s state of mind. Happy, excited, etc.

So be careful with that tone and be empathetic when you write.

Put yourself in the shoes of the person receiving the message and have in mind what kind of emotions they are feeling.

Stress, joy, expectation, worry, relaxation, etc.

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Create a style guide

Many businesses have a style guide for the design. Colours, fonts, sizes and so on.

But they forget how important it is to have a style guide for the brand voice as well.

It’s really useful even if you are running your business alone, because, who knows, in a few years it may thrive and you will be working with more people.

Even if you are the one writing all the copy on your website and on social media, a style guide will help you be consistent and will remind you what kind of personality you have created for your brand.

This way you will make it recognisable in all media and all networks.

Create a style guide that is short and concise and easy to update and refer to.

What’s more important is that the guide helps you be consistent.

Here are some of the things you can include in the style guide:

  • If you use abbreviations for some terms, add them to the guide so you always write them in the same way. (Remember that you should only use abbreviations when you are 100% sure your target audience understands them.)
  • Which elements should be in capital letters (e.g. buttons or CTAs)
  • Words to avoid because they sound bad or are misleading.
  • The goals of each piece of copy you write: web copy, blog posts, social media captions, etc. (inform, create curiosity, build loyalty, etc.).
  • The list of qualifying adjectives that define what your brand is and what it is not.
  • A glossary with the terms you have decided to use to define concepts. This way you will always use the same ones and not synonyms. For example, if you have decided to call your marketing emails Newsletter, don’t call them “bulletin” or “rocking emails” the following week.
  • Salutations and signatures in your emails.

You can add anything you think is relevant and important in order to be consistent with your brand personality.

I hope I’ve given you some good tips to create a unique brand voice for your business.

See you soon!

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Sobre Elena de Francisco

Escribo copy que engancha para negocios sin fronteras. Vivo en Holanda, pero escribo donde me pille. Mi entretenimiento favorito es aplastar textos zombis que no dan resultados y transformarlos en palabras que venden.

About Elena de Francisco

I write copy that hooks into prospects minds for businesses without borders. I live in the Netherlands, but I write everywhere. My favourite pastime is to crush zombie copy and turn it into words that sell.

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