Your Brand Isn’t Just Communicated Visually

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Once a company identifies their brand, they quickly move to communicating that brand to their marketplace. Excellent – just as they should. But in most cases, they stop short.

If I said to you that we were re-branding your company, what is the first thing you’d think of? In most cases, you’d think – “we need a new logo then.” And then, you’d quickly add, “and a graphic standards manual.”

Both observations are true. But not enough.

One of the most powerful and overlooked aspects of your brand is your brand’s voice. Just like consistency in your brand’s visual presentation (logo, color palette, fonts etc.) is critical to building brand awareness and understanding, the same can be said of the voice.

Not sure what a brand voice is? Think of Apple. If you saw an ad for a Mac computer and the copy was very technical and dry, would it feel right?

Of course not, because that’s not Apple’s voice.

If you saw a brochure for the United Nations that was filled with hip-hop slang, would it feel right?

Again, of course not.

The same is true of your organization. Whether you’ve ever thought about it or not, you do have an authentic brand voice. When you use it, it feels comfortable and genuine. When you don’t – it sounds and feels artificial.

Many companies try to put on a more formal or authoritative voice in their marketing materials because they think it makes them more “official.” But really, it makes them sound fake.

The greatest brand compliment you can receive is to meet someone for the first time and have them tell you that you “feel” just like your website or collateral materials. That means you are being consistent – you are speaking in the same voice, regardless of the medium.

So how do you discover your brand voice? One of our agency’s favorite ways to help clients articulate the characteristics of their brand voice is to do a series of comparisons.

  • Is your brand voice a man or a woman?
  • Is your brand voice more like Spike Lee or General Lee?
  • Is your brand voice more like Bugs Bunny or a Playboy Bunny?
  • Is your brand voice more like a white paper or a high school term paper?

You get the idea. Make up your own contrasts and keep at it until you refine your view of the voice.

Another way to articulate your brand’s voice is to personify your company. If your organization was a person – what would he or she be like? How would he dress? What would she do for a living? Be as specific as you can. The more you can picture the person in your head, the better you’ll be able to assume their voice.

Regardless of how you uncover and define your company’s voice, the most important element of identifying your brand’s voice is to create a way to share the definition with all your organization’s employees. Just like you want everyone to honor the graphic standards and present a consistent look, you want the same to be true of your voice.

Remember, good branding relies on consistency. In all aspects of your brand.

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