This is the second of our 6-part series that details how to build your brand from scratch. If you’re new to this series, you might want to catch up on our previous blog, or feel free to move on to our next installment if you’re already caught up!
We’re sure you’ve heard the phrase “your chain is only as strong as its weakest link”. Well the same axiom holds true for your brand. Every link, every detail pertains to how your brand is perceived, and the tone you employ will resonate how prospective customers will identify your business.
A car has many working components. It has an engine, a battery, an alternator, brakes, tires, etc. If even one of these parts is not functioning properly, the car will not be safe to drive, or will not move at all. Your brand’s performance is similar and it’s not only important for your brand to maintain a consistent tone and voice, but, these attributes are also key to growing your brand’s reach.
Why Tone is Important
From a user’s perspective, your tone is one of the most prominent brand elements and helps site visitors to identify with it. Your tone helps set your brand apart from your competition. Having a friendly and consistent tone also helps to build trust, similar to how it would perform in an interpersonal relationship. In addition, your tone should adapt to represent varied demographics as your brand evolves, to continue to best represent your brand’s image. This means the ever-changing audience your brand attracts should be the main focus of your decisions regarding tone.
Before You Define Your Voice
Properly defining your brand’s tone of voice is impossible without the right knowledge. You need to first understand your audience, and what appeals to them (as with every other component of your brand). Knowing the buying habits of your intended audience will give you the insight needed to communicate to them with maximum efficiency. Due to Social Media, emails, and more conventional marketing processes, consumers are inundated with brand messaging, and have become conditioned to only listen to the promotions from brands they trust and/or associate with.
Similar to the needs of your audience, it’s equally important for your message to understand and convey a brand’s purpose. The same goals and intentions that are stated on your company’s mission statement should be kept in mind during every step of the branding process.
For example, Wendy’s does an outstanding job of understanding who they are as a brand. They don’t follow McDonald’s or Burger King because their brands wouldn’t appeal to Wendy’s cultivated fan base. Wendy’s purpose is to sell “fresh, never frozen beef”. In the fast food industry – that’s their niche. If they tried to imitate Burger King, they would lose their audience to the real Burger King, the same way Burger King would lose their followers if they tried to be Wendy’s. Knowing your own goals and remaining true to them will enable a brand to stay focused on furthering your brand, successful promotion after successful promotion – so know the difference between benchmarking competition and losing focus. A defined niche gives a brand an angle and unique strategy to work with.
“The art of marketing is the art of brand building. If you are not a brand you are a commodity. Then price is everything and the low cost producer is the only winner.” – Philip Kotler, Professor at the Kellogg School of Management
How to Define Your Voice
Once you have acquired the necessary knowledge about your brand, its market share, and know your demographic(s), you can form a voice designed to:
- Perpetuate your brand’s intended role in your market
- Speak directly to the audience most likely to have interest in your products/services
Begin this process by brainstorming with members of your team and try to describe your brand’s personality with a few words. Come to a joint agreement, and be sure the description dovetails with the goal you are setting for your brand.
As another example, take a look at Mercedes-Benz. This luxury car leader might choose words like “sophisticated, elite, and elegant” because these words represent what the marque stands for, while also appealing to the buying characteristics of their potential customers.
Once you have your brand’s words, work towards defining them further to get a better idea how they apply to your goal(s). For the example above, the hypothetical keywords provided represent what would make Mercedes-Benz stand out from not only other car brands, but other luxury car brands. Their current slogan is “The Best or Nothing”, because, given their prestigious history, they pride themselves on being the pinnacle of luxury cars.
Where Tone Comes into Play
Like the rest of your brand, your tone is meant to represent your company. Most people speak differently depending on where they are; such as a work compared to a social environment, for example. Every time your brand releases information, whether it’s through an advertisement, press release, content marketing effort, etc. these vehicles provide an opportunity to teach consumers what your brand stands for.
According to an Econsultancy survey, 73% of customers agreed that content with a strong personality has a better chance of creating brand loyalty. So if you’re going to depend on your brand’s personality to stand out, make sure it’s done properly.
Building a brand without a carefully curated tone of voice is not only counterintuitive, but also wastes valuable data that can be leveraged to increase your customer base and revenue. Having a consistent tone will not only help target the right audience, but will help keep loyal customers to appreciate long-term profits.