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What's Behind Your Brand Voice?

Repeat after us: branding is more than your logo.

Before we start talking about "brand voice," ask yourself a few questions. What makes up a brand? And why do people choose to engage with one brand over another?

Lots of businesses build computers, yet, people still think Apple first even if they buy another brand. That’s because Apple has created a voice for their brand that sticks in the minds of consumers so much they automatically make that association.

Brand voice is one of the most critical elements of brand development because it creates a thread that audiences follow as the business grows and evolves. It is what makes the company recognizable to anyone that hears the name or sees the logo. Understanding brand voice is the first step to building your brand presence but how does it work?

What is a Brand Voice?

A brand voice is the tone of a brand's messaging and communications style. It's the way a brand sounds and feels to their audience, through written word, the scripts in their videos, and even how brand representatives speak to customers. Branding is a business basic and one of the first things influencers and companies alike look to build. It’s a concept that affects businesses of all sizes and sectors.

A brand tells the customer what they can expect from the business. Branding creates an identity but the voice is what gives it a personality.

From the marketing side, voice attaches feeling to the brand. Are you:

  • Friendly
  • Jovial
  • Efficient

Voice is especially important in sectors where emotion isn’t as obvious. Restaurants have little trouble showing a voice to their public. A face of a happy kid eating pretty much says it all.

Tech, however, is more problematic.

MailChimp manages to convey a feeling of enthusiasm in their brand voice. If you look at their website, you see nothing but bright, happy colors that convey a sense of clarity. They offer some levity in their marketing–their smiling monkey logo, for example–to keep potential clients from feeling their service is complex and difficult to master even though it is SaaS tech.

What Does Brand Voice Mean in Marketing?

The brand voice introduces consistency in marketing strategies and assets. It also communicates a company’s values and often, the personality of its founders. Steve Jobs was a passionate guy and Apple continues that passion as part of their brand voice.

Apple presents itself as a forward-thinking innovator just like Jobs did.

“One of the ways people express their appreciation to the rest of humanity is to make something wonderful…”

Apple creates products with crisp, clean lines that say fresh and wonderful. It’s that innovative mojo that drives the company’s product designs, marketing campaigns and even architecture. Apple Park in Cupertino, California is shaped like a spaceship.

Just about anyone on the street could recognize an Apple product even without the logo. It is a voice that says buy me because I’m worth it, which is just what Jobs said about the 1st generation of Apple products. Apple reflects Steve Jobs voice because he was the popular face of the brand for a long time.

How Does Brand Voice Relate to Visual Identity?

Ultimately, the voice and visual identity of a brand are interrelated. The emotions a brand seeks to evoke in the tone of its content can be mirrored through stylistic choices in the logo and visual aesthetic of the brand. Spotify is a great example of a brand that updated its logo to better evoke meaning through design. Their recent color update harmonizes the brand's values and voice with its visual identity.

Case Study

Blindcut case study preview

See how we helped internet privacy tech startup Blindcut define their brand voice.

While many startups may think product is more important than brand, we've found through experience that connecting with your customers is just as important as making sure the product they use is working properly.

Learn more

How to Identify Your Brand Voice

Apple has the right idea because the voice of a brand is more about the people behind it than anything else. Companies still looking to identify their voice can start with their current marketing assets likely designed or at least approved by these individuals.

Gather them together and determine if a specific tone stands out? Chances are you already have a voice, you just don’t realize it. If your past marketing efforts have been successful then there is no reason to make changes. All that is left to do is to ensure voice consistency.

If you are not coming up with anything, ask a random sampling of staff members to describe the company in three words. Look for similarities in their descriptions to get an idea from the people who represent the brand what the voice is in their minds.

Once you assemble three words that work, write down things that will showcase them. Focus on the details like:

  • Colors = Yellow is bright and happy
  • Phrasing = Vimeo starts their email newsletter with “Top of the email to you, technology lovers”
  • Marketing tone = Family-friendly humor? Serious and efficient?

Implementing Your Brand Voice

After you get the details of your brand voice ironed out, make a chart that everyone on your team can follow. Specify any keyphrases that stick out for the brand and identify the tone for all writing and content creation. Finally, analyze the effectiveness of that tone and tweak it when necessary to keep it fresh.

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