As a brand, you may have put a ton of thought and effort into creating your own logo, choosing your colors, picking out a familiar spokesperson, or even designing your product labels. All these branding elements help customers easily identify your brand. Another way to shape your customer experience is through your brand voice, or the cohesive writing style you use across every touchstone.
This article will explore the importance of finding your brand voice, how you can identify your own, as well as some examples of well-known brands that use theirs effectively.
What is brand voice?
Your brand voice is the personality your brand communicates to your audience. If you think of a friend or family member, they probably have a distinct way of speaking that fits with their personality. The same applies to your brand.
Your brand identity shines through all aspects of your branding and marketing materials via your brand voice. Everything from the words you choose and the emotion you inject into communicating via your brand identity examples creates your brand voice, determines how your audience perceives you and helps differentiate you from competitors. This is also a key part of brand positioning.
Why is brand voice important?
Your brand voice fosters an emotional bond between you and your customer. 82% of consumers who feel emotionally connected to a brand will continue to buy that brand. By being consistent with your brand voice across all communications (website, social media, newsletters, videos, ad campaigns, etc.), you’ll be able to cement your brand personality in your consumers’ minds. You don’t want your brand voice to come across as scattered or incoherent, so being consistent will help customers recognize your brand by its voice alone. In turn, you will build brand loyalty, leaving you in a much better position to convert and retain them.
Tips on finding your brand voice
Here are a few tips to help you identify and create your brand voice:
Assess your brand’s values
First, look at your company’s values via your mission statement. If you already have a formally-crafted statement, then you've already outlined your brand’s voice. Pay close attention to the words you used: Are they professional, light-hearted, confident, formal? These will cue you on where to take your brand voice. (If you don’t have a formal statement, try brainstorming your brand’s purpose and values for a beneficial starting point.)
When defining your brand values, also think about how your customers may interpret your language. For example, rather than exclusive or overbearing, the language in McDonald’s mission statement reflects their simple, lighthearted and accessible personality.
Know your audience
When creating your brand voice, consider exactly who your brand speaks to in order to understand how to credibly and authentically communicate with them.
To better understand your target audience, create buyer personas. Gather all the information you have about your audience, such as their age, interests, location. Also note which platforms they interact with your business most, such as on your website or via social media. To create a more resonant brand voice, you may consider noting the language each buyer persona uses, any slang they use either online or locally, and what words they don’t use as well. For example, if you’re marketing to high-level managers, then you want to keep the slang and emojis to a bare minimum.
Create language lists
Now that you’re starting to piece together your brand’s voice, it’s time to make a concrete list of language to establish, in very specific terms, what your voice is. You can start by jotting down a few words you’d relate to your brand’s personality. For example, you might come up with: bold, cutting-edge, expert, high-end, universal, etc. Narrow down your list to the top three to five words that best describe your brand, and let this guide what tone to adopt.
You may also want to create an “is and isn’t” list for your brand. This list might look like this:
“We’re professional, but not unapproachable.”
“We’re chic, but not snobby.”
“We’re authentic, but not unkempt.”
These lists help you get intimately familiar with what language is most appropriate for your brand’s personality.
Put together a brand voice artifact
Create a document to send to everyone on your team, including any external freelance writers. Similar to a brand style guide, this helps everyone keep your brand’s voice consistent. It’ll also serve as a reference to ensure all communication fits within your brand’s personality.
To do this, expand upon the top three to five words from your list. You want to relate each trait to your brand, as well as note which the preferred tone and which words to use and which to avoid.
Now, that you’ve clearly outlined your brand voice in a simple document, share it with your teammates and writers.
Test, review and fine-tune
Before finalizing your brand voice, test it with your audience. You can:
Create social media posts using your new brand voice
A/B test an email newsletter, sending out one using your old voice and another using your new one
Write a new blog post in your brand voice
Whatever methods you test your voice with, make sure to maintain consistency across all tests to ensure accuracy.
Next, make sure your brand voice fits in with the rest of your branding, like your visual language, brand colors, and social media strategies. If not, make some tweaks to your brand messaging to prevent confusing your audience.
As your brand grows, your voice likely will too. When you add new values, products, services or audiences, reassess your brand voice to adopt these new traits.
Brand voice examples
For great examples on how to use your brand voice, look at how other brands are doing it, whether competitors in your field or big-name brands. We particularly love these brand voice examples.
Oatly’s voice perfectly exemplifies how language, aesthetics, and messaging all combine to form the brand’s personality. Oatly drinkers can instantly recognize the brand by its visual aesthetic and light-hearted, quirky attitude, and, in part, have become fiercely loyal to the brand.
Everything from Oatly’s web copy, its social media posts and captions, and the fine print on its packaging demonstrate its distinct personality. Take a look at the packaging for its original oat milk:
Oatly makes the brand seem young, fun and unconventional. By calling something as generic as the nutritional information “The Boring (But Very Important) Side,” the brand turns a mundane carton into a must-read asset.
Apple’s voice has grown so distinct over the last few decades that you don’t even need to see the brand’s logo or name to know when a commercial or billboard ad is theirs. That’s what every brand should strive for when using their brand voice.
Apple’s minimalist personality shows and tells just enough about its products or features to excite their audience.
Take a look at how Apple messages its iPhone 12 Pro. The company knows that their competitors describe their products too technically for their target consumer, focusing on sizes and pixels. Since customers come to Apple for its name and prestige, Apple chooses to speak with its customers with simple, sleek imagery and text.
The Wix brand voice aims to be approachable through its concise, knowledgeable and trustworthy language, inspiring and motivating users from their first product interaction—regardless of where they are professionally.
Using an empathetic approach, Wix’s brand voice emulates a conversation between two professionals. From the Wix Logo Maker to the SEO features, Wix speaks to their smart, savvy, and professional audience with confidence.
This articulated brand voice spans across all channels, including their social media platforms. Whether it’s an Instagram reel, a Twitter tweet or a LinkedIn profile story, Wix always uses the same language to let their brand voice shine through, so the audience knows Wix is there to help, inspire, and educate.
When it comes to defining brand voice, most companies want to balance authenticity and promotion. You don’t want to be selling in every post, but you also want to convince your audience to take action. Skittles, however, has successfully thrown that whole playbook in the trash.
With so-awkward-they’re-funny commercials and plenty of tongue-in-cheek social media ads, the brand sells to audiences both candy and a unique lifestyle.
This awkwardly-playful Twitter ad has you both cringing and curious to see more. It’s a great example of how far you can take your brand voice. As a candy brand, Skittles can get away with it, but you’d probably want to steer clear of this type of messaging if it won't resonate with your target audience.