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Find Your Voice: Brand Voice Guidelines for Your Business

It can be exceedingly difficult to stand out amongst your competitors. After all, there are nearly 30 million other entrepreneurs in the United States.

But, it’s not quite as difficult as it may initially seem. With a proper voice for your brand, you’ll easily establish your business as something unique that provides plenty of value to your audience.

Not sure where to start? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.

Let’s take a look at everything you need to know about brand voice guidelines.

Before We Begin: Voice Vs. Tone

There’s a discrepancy between a brand’s voice and its tone that many people aren’t aware of. Some entrepreneurs even use the terms ‘voice’ and ‘tone’ interchangeably.

But, you’ll need to know the characteristics of both in order to fully develop a voice for your brand.

The term voice refers to your company’s ‘personality.’ In essence, it’s who your company would be if it were a person. For example, fashion brands often have a sophisticated or sassy brand voice. Medical companies are typically more formal and protective.

In contrast, tone refers to the overall emotion that’s applied to your brand’s voice during a specific message. So, an advertisement for a brand that has a laid-back, quirky voice often has a casual tone.

However, the same brand could also have a serious tone when their campaign involves raising awareness of victims of domestic abuse. A brand’s tone is supposed to fluctuate depending on the message, so there are no issues with switching things up.

With that covered, let’s move on.

Take a Step Back and Look at Your Company’s Mission

Before you can make any progress developing your brand’s voice, you may need to refresh yourself on what your company’s goal is.

For example, let’s assume that you own an athletic apparel company that sells specially-designed shoes for people who are trying to lose weight.

Since you’re not targeting marathon runners or professional athletes, you likely won’t have a ‘guns blazing’ voice for your brand.

But, since your audience is actively working to make progress, you can’t be too relaxed, either. So, you’ll fall somewhere in between.

Your company’s mission is to help people lose weight. So, your voice will need to reflect that. In this case, your voice would likely be motivational without being either too aggressive or coddling.

Ask The Audience

Not quite sure how your audience perceives your brand? The best way to learn is to ask them their opinion.

So, send out a survey to everyone on your email list and post it on your social media. Solid questions to include are:

  • If our business were a human, what would they look like?
  • Do you feel our current voice matches our brand?
  • If you had to describe our brand in a few words, what would they be?

Since this feedback comes straight from your audience, you’ll need to take it seriously. Don’t be discouraged if their responses don’t align with how you feel about your brand– you can always make a change.

Research Your Competition

If you’re feeling particularly lost with how your brand should sound, take a look at what others in your industry are doing.

Chances are, most of your competition will have a consistent voice among each other. What you shouldn’t do, though, is copy their brand’s voice entirely.

So, if your competitors all have a formal brand voice, you’ll know that you should be formal, too. But, you should put a bit of a twist on it to help you stand out.

Mixing formality with a bit of humor is a great way to both get your audience’s attention and keep your brand fresh in their minds. 

If you still need information on how to refine your company’s branding, you can visit this resource for more information.

A ‘This/That’ Exercise Can Help Narrow Things Down

This is one of the most efficient ways you can add depth to the voice of your brand.

The exercise is simple. It involves you telling yourself as a company “we are ___ but not ___.” After a few iterations of this, you’ll begin to make serious progress.

Let’s use the previously mentioned athletic apparel company as another example.

We’re motivational, but not aggressive.

We’re helpful, but not coddling.

We’re friendly, but not sentimental.

As you can see, it doesn’t take long to start to get a solid idea of how your brand should sound. From here, you’ll have no trouble developing something unique. 

Develop Your Own Brand Rules

Once you’ve begun to understand who you are, you can develop rules for your company that will help regulate the voice and tone of all of your content.

So, you can take a handful of characteristics that describe your brand (motivational, helpful, friendly, etc.) and come up with ways to convey that to your audience. 

Similarly, you can also come up with a list of what not to do when creating ads or posting on social media.

This is especially helpful when working with characteristics where it’s easy to cross a line into another territory. Being funny can quickly become insulting if your voice is too sarcastic.

Following These Brand Voice Guidelines Can Seem Difficult

But it doesn’t have to be.

With the above information about brand voice guidelines in mind, you’ll be well on your way to developing a powerful brand voice that resonates strongly with your audience.

From here, you can focus on fostering these connections and form longlasting customer relationships!