Missed last week's episode of Chatfuel School—our weekly YouTube livestream where we cover hot topics in the world of bot-building and marketing? Don't worry; we took notes for you. 🤓 The topic for April 29, 2020 was how to craft a brand voice that converts, and we brought in expert copywriter Leana Tajkov to share her secrets!
Here's a recap of what you missed. (Sign up to get a reminder for next week's episode, too!)
Your brand's voice is the recognizable, consistent style you use when communicating with your audience. As a business owner or marketer, you may have had some of these thoughts when it comes to crafting yours:
We don’t have the money to spend on that right now!
We’ll figure it out as we go.
Where would we even begin?
We don't have enough bandwidth to focus on that now.
Will our potential customers even notice?
Crafting one strong, consistent brand voice is an aspect of marketing that often gets bumped to the bottom of the priority list. Some think it's a detail that only huge companies with massive marketing budgets can afford to (or need to) work on. Others understand its importance, but get overwhelmed thinking about where to begin.
The truth is: Your brand's voice is deeply integrated into everything your business does. It applies to every situation where you communicates with prospects or customers, from your website and your email newsletters to your social media and your Messenger chatbot. It's something you should pay attention to early in the life of your business, and something you should monitor regularly.
A clear, singular, expressive brand voice isn't just a nice-to-have. It's an essential piece of your marketing and sales efforts. It has direct links to things like:
- brand trust
- conversions and sales
- customer retention and loyalty
- social proof and word of mouth
You can't afford to put your company's brand-voice project on the back burner. So let's dig deeper into why you need a strong brand voice, and how you can start crafting one—even if you don't have a lot of resources to dedicate to the project.
What brand voice is, and why you should care
Your brand voice is your company's consistent communication style across channels. It's how you want people to view your company, and how you want to make them feel. Brand voice includes factors like:
- word choice and how you phrase things
- stylistic choices, like how you spell things
- mechanics, like what kind of punctuation you use
Brand voice is the "it factor" that can make the reader smile or sit up and take interest, and then dig deeper into what you have to offer. It represents your chance to get their attention and to spark a meaningful emotional connection (or else melt into the forgettable). And if you get it right the first time and keep it consistent, you're setting the stage for a long-term, trusting relationship between the consumer and your brand (meaning increased loyalty, conversions, and growth!).
The basics of crafting your brand's voice
To start designing a strong brand voice that makes sense for your unique business, you'll need to consider three key elements. Think about how you can communicate with your audience in a way that reflects the ideas you come up with for each one.
#1. Your brand's values
Think about what's important to you as a brand, and what you're focused on providing for your customer (and even the world). Luxury? Sustainability? Convenience? Economy? Why do you do what you do? Why do you provide this particular product or service? From there, consider how you can translate those values into your brand communications.
Think of it this way. If you're an honest person, you'd make a point of being straightforward and open in your interactions with others. If you're an honest brand, you need to make a point of being transparent and up-front in your interactions with customers. Outline your brand's values, then make sure they come through in your communications.
#2. Your brand's personality
"I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel." –Maya Angelou
It's a beautiful quote to live by—and it also helps us understand the concept of brand personality. How do you want prospects and customers to feel after interacting with your brand?
💰If you're selling online courses on entrepreneurship, you want to make the person feel confident that they can make the transformation into a business owner. So your brand personality should be empowering, inspiring, and authoritative.
🧪If you're selling science toys for children, you want to make the purchasing parent feel like they're making a good investment in their child's future. So your brand personality should be smart and aspirational (for the parents), yet approachable and fun (for the kids).
🍕 If you're selling authentic Italian pizza at your restaurant, you want to make potential diners feel like you know Italian cuisine and can whisk them away to Italy with your delicious, authentic food. So your brand personality should express some kind of authority or relation to Italy and Italian culture.
#3. Your target audience
Marketing a fabulous product to the wrong audience is a recipe for failure. You need to know exactly who your product is for, and know them well. Then, design a voice that will allow you to "speak their language"—to catch their attention, address their pain points, and build rapport.
🚲 A bicycle company selling racing bikes would have a different brand voice than one selling beach cruisers. The target audience for the first brand is experienced athletes. The target audience for the second might be families who just want to get exercise and fresh air together for fun.
👟 An ecommerce business that sells orthopedic walking shoes won't get very far if they speak in memes, puns, and pop-culture references. That kind of voice wouldn't resonate with their target audience of older people. It might work perfectly, however, for a brand that sells themed sneakers for younger people.
Bringing it all together in a style guide
Once you've spent some time thinking about these three elements, it's time to create a style guide. A style guide is like a rulebook for your brand voice. It details how you want to sound when communicating, and exactly how to achieve that. A comprehensive, complete style guide can take months to put together, yes. But even creating a simple one today will help you get your brand's voice on the right track. It should include:
Adjectives. Think of adjectives that you want to describe your brand. (It may help to look back at your notes for point #2 above: brand personality.) Add them to your style guide, and keep them in mind whenever you write copy for your brand. Here's an example. Check out the adjectives for three companies with different brand voices, plus an example of how each one might phrase the same sentence:
- Sophisticated, high-end, luxurious: Unearth a new level of luxury by discovering our latest offerings.
- Approachable, upbeat, helpful, cheerful: Boy, have we got the product for you! Take a peek at what we have to offer.
- Irreverent, wise-cracking, humorous: You're gonna love our products. Seriously. Wanna bet? See for yourself. 😎
A word list. Make a list of words commonly used in your industry and by your brand. Decide on one way to write and spell them for consistency.
- Does your apparel brand sell gray t-shirts or grey tees?
- Do you train people on how to build ecommerce, e-commerce, or eCommercestores?
- Do you provide software for building messenger chat bots or Messenger chatbots? Is your brand name ChatFuel, or Chatfuel? (Hint: It's the latter for both questions in Chatfuel's case. 😉)
Grammar and formatting rules. Of course, you should always strive to create content that's free of grammatical errors. Beyond those basics, decide which stylistic elements of grammar your brand will follow (examples below). Include rules on how your copy should look in terms of formatting and mechanics like punctuation, too.
- Do you use emoji? If so, how many per sentence or paragraph is too many? Are there any you never use? Do you put punctuation before or after the emoji?
- Do you put quotes "in quotes," or in italics? Do you use bold text for emphasis, or only when you refer to a product line?
- Do you ever use ?! or are exclamation marks of any kind off-limits for your brand? Do you use the Oxford comma?
Start with these basics, and build on them as you go. And then: Stick to your style guide! Anyone in your company who writes anything that prospects or customers will read should follow it. Keeping your voice consistent this way will help build the kind of brand trust that leads to incredibly loyal customers and ever-increasing revenue.
And if you need inspiration, look to publicly available style guides like MailChimp's or Microsoft's. Keep in mind that these are incredibly detailed guides for very large companies. If you're a smaller brand or just starting out, you won't need this level of detail right now. But they can give you an idea of some elements you may want to include in your brand's guide.
Examples of strong, consistent, recognizable brand voices
They're everywhere! Here are a few you're probably familiar with. Notice how these three brands use the same type of language and style in every communication.
Their brand voice is: Approachable, light, genuine, concise, casual but professional, like a friendly chat at the water cooler 👋
Slack's brand voice mirrors the style of instant messages between friendly colleagues—which is exactly what their platform enables. They focus on accessibility and simplicity. They're upbeat, warm, and friendly, but still professional.
Their brand voice is: Powerful, inspirational, encouraging, empowering, like an inspiring coach 💪
Nike's brand voice portrays athletes as heroes, and empowers anyone active to call themselves an athlete too. They focus on a global community of humans who play sports, and this is evident in their inclusive language. They use short, simple, impactful sentences and inspirational phrasing. Nike's content doesn't need to include their logo for readers to know it's from them—it's that recognizable.
Their brand voice is: Playful, bright, endearing, funny, quirky, like your dog if she could talk! 😋
BarkBox has crafted a brand voice that appeals to dog lovers. Their voice reflects the qualities we all love most in dogs: that infectious, always-upbeat, "happy to be here" attitude. They use wordplay, whimsy, and a hint of silliness to make pet owners smile.
Start crafting a strong brand voice today
The key point I want to leave you with today is this: A consistent brand voice is an essential component of your business's future success, because it helps increase conversions and sales by building consumer trust. That means it's something you can't afford to put on the back burner until you have more staff, more expertise, or a larger budget—and you don't have to! With these quick-start tips, you can craft the basics of a strong brand voice today. Then, start implementing your new guidelines consistently across all channels (from email to landing page to Messenger), and you'll be setting your business up for success! 🎉