What is Brand Voice?


I talk a lot about "Brand Voice" and some people have absolutely no idea what I mean when I say that. Everyone is quite familiar with what a logo is and visual brand identity has earned a great deal of respect, but people don’t often give verbal brand identity the same attention. So I wanted to spend a little time breaking it down and sharing its importance.

Think about your best friends for a second. Why are they your best friends? You might think or say things like “She’s so compassionate and a really great listener”, “She’s innovative and always introducing me to new things” or “He’s so mature and wise, he gives the best advice”, “He is the funniest person I’ve ever known and makes me smile." These are all personality characteristics and they are shown to you through interactions with your friends, the conversations you have and the tones they express.

How you speak and what you say is just as important as how you look! It’s why we’re drawn to our friends (I mean hopefully you’ve chosen your friends for more than just their looks!) and our favorite brands.

So let’s move a little closer to applying this to business. Think about the last time you presented or pitched yourself in conversation. You probably wrote a script in addition to preparing visual materials or you at least put words on your slides or flyer too. Did your language match up with your visuals? Or could they have been more intentional and complementary?

I define brand voice as the way you speak to consumers across all channels. The way you sound and most importantly the way you make them feel.

It’s important to know what you are and are not, and also to know that there is nuance in tone. Having an approachable tone or personality can be very different than having a welcoming one. Your brand voice can have many characteristics, it can be empowering, informational and polished. It can be playful, endearing and accessible. But it’s important to build this voice based on your mission, your brand values, your product/service and to tailor it to the audiences you serve.

The same way you have logo guidelines, having brand voice guidelines you can reference for every blog, social media post, email or sales pitch you write will help you build a more meaningful relationship with your ideal consumer. Bonus, it will also save you time and energy each time you write.

A few easy to recognize and memorable brand voices below:

Spanx: Empowering, Playful and Witty. This brand voice is the voice of a woman every woman wants to be friends with. They totally own who they are and that most of the time they are talking about undergarments with lines like “Making the world a better place….one butt at a time” and “My bra clasp is the only thing holding me together”

Taco Bell: Humorous, Clever, Informal and at times just straight Silly. The Taco Bell brand voice reminds me of exactly the male teen or young adult we all know they are targeting.

Whole Foods Market: Knowledgeable, Trustworthy and Authoritative. Whole Foods has established themselves as a holistic healthy living expert. The friend you go to for all of your health and cooking advice, if they say it, it simply must be true.

So go ahead and talk about yourself! How will your fans describe you? Remember, it’s not only what you say, but also how you say it.