Finding Your Brand Voice

Today we’re going to talk about something that is extremely important but not many people really talk about: how to find and update your brand voice.

I think that not many people really talk about this because a lot of times this isn’t determined at the typical digital marketing level but it really needs to be. Another reason is that most marketers are joining companies, unless you’re at a brand new start up, where the brand voice has already been established for a while and we never really think to question it – but we really should.

This leads me to the first point:

Why Is Brand Voice Important?

Well, let’s look at it like this – if you were in a work meeting and said ‘don’t ask me, I don’t know’ to every question asked, what would happen?

What about if you were a doctor and every time a patient asked you a question, you answered with, “I dunno, maybe like you should stop smoking or something, I dunno tho..”

Say you were a baker and you literally refused to speak any time someone mentioned the word ‘flour’.

How long do you think you would last in any of these professions? The answer is ‘not very’.

This is why brand voice is important.

You’ve all heard of EAT, expertise, authority and trustworthiness, right? Well, as I mentioned in a previous article, Google isn’t the only nor the most important thing out there keeping a note of that – so are your customers! If your brand isn’t speaking to people in a tone they expect or, worse yet, speaking to people at all, it won’t be long until they move on to a brand that will.

If people don’t trust you, they won’t buy from you no matter how cheap or top-quality your products are. It would be like the guy on the corner with selling watches out of his overcoat – yeah, you want a Rolex and they could be real and acquired legitimately and the prices are really great but are you really going to take that chance? Probably not.

This isn’t to say that you need to speak to people like a college professor at all times, in fact, that can backfire on you – something we’ll get into later – but at least take into consideration how your brand appears to people who don’t know you.

How Do I Find My Brand Voice?

There’s an ancient saying ‘he who knows others is wise, he who knows himself is enlightened’. This is honestly, one of the best ways to determine what your brand voice should be. In this case, you will want to be both wise and enlightened by knowing yourself and knowing your audience.

First things to figure out are about yourself:

What do you do? What is your angle? Even something as simple as your business name can help you find your voice. Here’s an example from one of my past clients:

I worked with someone who was a dropshipper in a pretty crowded market and no matter what they tried, they just couldn’t stand out. Instead of giving up, we thought about it and I noticed that their name was a play on the word ‘paparazzi’, so I thought that might be something they could use.

Instead of simply saying, “Here’s this product. You should buy it.” we started to actually post things like Hollywood news, gossip, movie release dates, upcoming music releases and reviews and things like that. This played in quite well with what they sold (I won’t say what they sold because that would make it obvious who I’m talking about) but in no time people started visiting and engaging with their social channels and telling their friends, sharing their posts, etc.

They also started doing things like giveaway contests for some of their items and encouraging their customers to take photos of them with their purchases and posting those on their sites as well. This, in turn led to sales.

Come for the sizzle, stay for the steak and it all started because they changed their brand voice from ‘commercial’ to ‘casual’. They hit on something that was already there the whole time and that led to an increase in brand awareness and sales.

Maybe you won’t be the next Kleenex in terms of becoming a household name but if people know you, they’ll be much more willing to buy from you.

What If We’re Using The Wrong Voice Now?

There’s an easy answer for this one – stop it.

No really, I’m not trying to be funny – just stop it. The only thing worse than making a mistake for five years is making a mistake for five years and one day – I think Dr. Phil said that, I dunno. Either way, it applies.

If you find that your audience isn’t responding to your content or the way you’re presenting it, it’s time to get in the lab and do some experiments.

I’ll give you an example from my day job. I work with a STEM organization and you’d think that they want technical, in-depth whitepapers and schematics and whatnot, right? Well, so did we for the longest time until we dug into the numbers. It turns out that while some people did like those things, it really wasn’t getting a lot of attention – especially on social media. So, I just said – stop it.

What was the point of having someone create all this content and only like 200 out of 20k people consumed it? It was basically a waste of time.

I started doing things that we simply haven’t tried before to see ‘what would happen’. I mean, if what we were currently doing wasn’t working, what did I have to lose, right?

I thought, “We have an Instagram account with only like five followers and that’s really not being used unless we have random pictures of old people shaking hands at a conference – nobody wants to see that crap. I’ll start there. If I break something, nobody will really see it anyway.”

So I did.

I started by searching the internet to see if I could find engineering or geek jokes and memes (which there are in abundance, apparently!) and I shared a few out there. We also have a line of novelty tees for engineers and technicians we really never promoted anywhere, so I threw a few ads for those up there too. Also, to make sure people didn’t think we turned into a gag site overnight, I took a few of our blog articles, made some images in Canva for them and posted those too.

It took off like crazy. Our followers and engagement basically increased exponentially over the course of a month.

So I thought, “So that worked, what else can I do? Aha! What about Pinterest!”

Industrial engineering on Pinterest? Yes, I know, most people wouldn’t try that – but I had nothing to lose and plus, it was an experiment. It worked. We now have over 400k active monthly visitors to our Pinterest page.

So basically, when what you think will work doesn’t, it’s time to try something you might think would never work. It’s not about you, its about your audience and they might just surprise you.

So basically finding your brand voice is all about introspection, experimentation and a whole lot of trial and error. Not everything is going to be a hit but then again, you can find your niche in the most unlikely of places. Don’t be afraid to look at your brand like you were a consumer who has never heard of you before.

Do that and good things will come your way.

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