What’s a brand voice and how do I find mine?

By January 10, 2019Branding, Messaging
brand voice watchword

No doubt, you’ve been inundated with the requisite ‘end of year wrap up’ or ‘start of the year stats to watch’ emails and blogs, so we won’t add to the noise. Instead, we want to talk about brand voice. It’s an oft-overlooked starting point for all those other efforts.

That said, this is the best time for you to be thinking about content planning. Keep an eye out – or better yet, go to the bottom of the page and just subscribe. We’re kicking off a series next week that details Content Planning, Selection, Assignments, and operational ROI. If you aren’t already building your content plan for 2019, you’re falling behind on a simple and highly cost-efficient way to enable marketing and sales. The only way it succeeds is to begin with marketing, sales, and operations all weighing in on use… and that takes strategy… but more about that next week.

What we’re going to do instead is share a conversation we have had three times this week. We kicked off three new awesome brand projects this week (yay 2019!) and in every case, have discussed brand voice. When I offer the same guidance repeatedly, it makes me think perhaps it might be useful to the wider universe. So, here you go.

What is brand voice and how do I pick mine?

Think about brand voice like the primary color you use for your logo. Just as color has associated psychology, your voice and tone convey the personality of your brand. Start there. What color is your logo? Why did you choose that color?

A personal example might help. Our logo is primarily dark orange. Orange evokes happiness and creativity – which we are (we love this work). We gave the color depth and surrounded it with neutrals to convey the seriousness and maturity with which we operate (we work this love hard). The voice we strive to use in our content and conversations reflect the joy and intellect we bring to this work. Our clients and peers know us as open, warm, conscientious people who practice our craft with deep care for the outcomes.

As we had this conversation, one of our clients asked a great question – should you tell the world what your voice is? Despite the fact that I just did exactly that for you, my answer to her was no. Once you have it in place, it should act as a lens and a filter for the content you produce.

(Think of it akin to your own personality – you don’t go around telling people you have a bubbly voice – you just speak with one. Same thing.)

So the next question is how do you pick your brand voice?

Step one: assemble all of your stakeholders responsible for nurturing and sharing your brand.

Step two: Have everyone weigh in on the characteristics (current and aspirational) of your brand. We have a really effective and fun Word Storm exercise for this that I’m happy to share. Email me directly (rachelle@watchwordbrand.com) if you’d like a copy.

Step three: Distill those characteristics into a few core qualities. Those become the building blocks of your voice. Going back to the Watchword example, we said joy, intellect, warm, and conscientious. Together, those qualities temper how we speak, write, podcast, consult clients, and post to social.

Step four: Get agreement and put them to use. Everywhere. Consistently. Make sure the team managing your social media feed knows that you put out content that sounds like your brand (not their own voice).

Chances are, you’re putting out more content than you really realize. Particularly if you’re embarking on a 2019 with aspirations of posting regularly, being active on social media, making videos (all the things!) start here.

As always, we’re glad to help – after all, we’re joyful and serious about this work, and we’d be a conscientious partner and guide for you. (wink.)

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Watchword produces intelligence-driven branding and content that works efficiently across many channels to help businesses articulate who they are and what they do to the people who matter most. We listen carefully, communicate thoughtfully, respond consistently, and deliver absolutely – that is our rally cry – our watchword. What’s yours? We’d love to hear your story.

Rachelle Kuramoto

Author Rachelle Kuramoto

Rachelle is Watchword Brand principal. She has worked as a brand and content strategist, writer, and market intelligence director for 20 years. She is an experienced and award-winning professional who balances creative and business acumen to support projects, primarily in the B2B sector. Her objective in every engagement is to articulate what makes the client distinctive and sustainable in their market and with the stakeholders who matter most. She'd love to hear your story. Grab some time and a listening ear at rachelle@watchwordbrand.com.

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