By Naomi Davis, Brand Strategist at Mobas.
For your brand to be understood by your customers, it needs to connect with them: to convey a promise and an offer which fit with their view of the world. Creating this is about carefully crafting a consistent brand personality, and that is formed by the face of your brand and, importantly, the language it uses.
Brand voice is all too often an afterthought, a single page in the brand guidelines that is overlooked. However, it’s a powerful tool that can help a company build relationships with existing and potential customers. Just think about your favourite radio presenter and the personality that you have connected, and built a sense of familiarity, with, all without any visual input. A strong voice is the foundation to develop familiarity and trust with customers. Consider the mental picture that you created of the person on the end of the phone the first time you contacted a business, whether that’s a hairdressers or potential business partner. No doubt this picture of the individual began to inform your impression of the organisation as a whole.
As the focus on customer relationships shifts to become increasingly two-way – with an emphasis on customers being heard – so does the focus on brand from appearance to personality.
It’s the emotional connection with a brand that will differentiate it from competitors and build customer loyalty. The brand voice must be clear and consistent throughout the experience: from the first point of contact, to the invoice at the end of a purchase and beyond. This consistency cultivates familiarity and trust between a brand and its customers, who’ll know what to expect every time they engage with it.
Creating a great brand voice needs input from many parts of any business: it can’t be chosen to suit one campaign, to reflect the CEO’s perspective, or changed to reflect current trends. It must reflect the values and the experience that sit at the heart of a company and which can be delivered by many team members.
A strong brand voice must be thoroughly considered at all levels; from the type of vocabulary and the adherence (or not) to grammatical rules, to the use of devices such as storytelling and humour, not to mention the language, pace and tone. Developing a brand voice is not about turning staff into robots, but guiding them to communicate in a way that provides customers with a consistent experience at every touchpoint.
This can mean asking people to change the way they communicate, and that’s not always easy. We find that working with teams from across the business means they understand the value of voice and, more importantly, how they can use it in their roles. To do this, we work through four stages: Involve, Inform, Train and Evolve.
We don’t create a brand voice in isolation and then present it back to the client: we work with them to craft it. We include people from across the business, and make sure they understand the concept of brand voice. They then play a key part in creating the voice, with their views taken on board, creating a level of ownership which enables them to guide other team members in the future. Once the brand voice has been decided, it must be adopted and implemented by every employee from the boardroom to the shop floor. The brand ambassadors play a key role in the deployment, monitoring, mentoring and guiding their teams. This can involve creating tools and materials to help bring the voice to life, or training with teams, or both: it depends entirely on the needs of the teams. Often we find holding training sessions with teams works particularly well:
“The branch visit was definitely positive. I felt it set a guide on the brand voice. The main thing for me was hearing these ideas and thoughts rather than just reading them as it really brought it to life.”
“The most beneficial thing [in] understanding brand voice was being in the workshop and being able to take part in the presentation and activities.”
Once the understanding is in place, the voice is in place and ready to go! But this is by no means the end of the journey; instead it’s the start of the ongoing process of monitoring, reviewing and, where necessary, revising the tone of voice to ensure that people don’t lapse into old habits and compromise the integrity of the brand voice.
The most successful brands have conversations with their clients and act like people rather than faceless corporations. Verbal and written language is becoming as important as visual identity in marketing communications, particularly as face-to-face interactions become less prominent.
At Mobas, we are skilled at identifying, creating and implementing brand voices for organisations across a variety of industries. To see if we could help you, get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.