Because sometimes you just need someone to give you the words.
If you’re a small business owner, you probably hear the word “branding” thrown around in online spaces all the time. But beyond the brand colors, branded design, and brand values is a copywriter’s tried-and-true tool: the brand voice.
So… What exactly is a brand voice?
A brand voice is essentially the personality of your words. Next time you’re sitting down with a group of friends, notice the differences in how they all speak. The speech pattern, the pauses, the volume, the types of words they use, and the lengths of their sentences are all elements specific to their voice and communication style.
The elements we notice in language patterns should be reflected in the way you write. Just like every person speaks differently, so does every brand.
To be clear, a brand voice is not:
- An exact replication how you or your company’s owner speaks
- A voice you think your clients have
- Whatever seems “trendy” at the moment
- Writing “the way all Gen Z-ers talk” (people in one generation don’t all talk the same way)
- A replication of another company’s lingo
Before you choose your words…
Think of elements of brand voice as existing on a spectrum. You need to narrow down the brackets you belong in.
- Are you more funny or more serious?
- Are you more matter-of-fact or enthusiastic?
- Are you more conventional or quirky?
- Are you more formal or casual?
It’s helpful to ask yourself why after all of these questions, and to think about the way you want your ideal audience to feel. Are you looking to be helpful? Relatable? Trustworthy? A mentor or a friend? Bring every decision back to your audience to get clear where you fall (even if that place is evenly positioned between one extreme and the other).
60 Words to Describe Your Brand Voice
Q1: Is your brand voice more funny or serious?
If you’re more funny:
If you’re more serious:
Q2: Is your brand voice more matter-of-fact or enthusiastic?
If you’re more matter-of-fact:
If you’re more enthusiastic:
Q3: Is your brand voice more conventional or quirky?
If you’re more conventional:
If you’re more quirky:
Q4: Is your brand voice more formal or casual?
If you’re more formal:
If you’re more casual:
3 Tips for Choosing Your Brand Voice Words:
1. Let your words reflect a feeling
Your brand voice should reflect the overall feeling you want your customers to leave with. One feeling does not automatically point to one type of brand voice, but there are some directions that align more naturally with the feeling you want to portray. For example, if you want to build trust with your readership, words you choose for your brand voice could be informative, confident, or straightforward.
2. Ignore trends.
The more you try to sound like other people, the harder it is to write authentically. Just because you notice that there are a ton of people adopting a boss babe brand voice doesn’t mean it’s
- More effective, or
- More attractive
When figuring out your brand voice, it should be relatively easy to write content for your brand. Don’t make this harder on yourself than it has to be. Especially if you’re a one-man operation, land on a brand voice that you feel comfortable using across all platforms.
3. Ask for feedback on how they land.
Branding does not exist in a vacuum. You want people to read your words and want to read more. So before you put them out there into the world, show them to the people you love.
Then, ask questions like:
- If this was a person talking to you, how would you describe their personality?
- What do you like about the way this person talks to you? What do you not like?
- What feeling are you left with after reading these words?
The answers you get may surprise you – but more than anything, they should help you get a clearer picture of what you’re nailing and what needs a little more work.
Where is a brand voice used?
A brand voice is used everywhere a company communicated with clients. This includes in social media posts, newsletters, emails, website copy, advertisements, and often even internal communication within the company.
But when not to use a brand voice?
Typically, on types of communication that include the exchange of sensitive or serious information. For example, if you are sending a letter to employees about their wages, keep the language purely professional. Information communicated through your HR department should be similarly modest and straightforward.
Additionally, if you run an online business, the language of your checkout forms should be as intuitively clear as possible, so that clients feel the platform is safe. Having a “Heck Yes, I’m In!” button on your sign up page could totally work with your brand voice, but once it’s time to collect their payment information, keep the language to “Checkout.”