May 17, 2018

Who’s Talking? Using Your Distinct Brand Voice

If your brand was a car, what would it be?

Have you been in–or heard of–a branding workshop that asks that stereotypical question?

The car exercise is to help you identify and/or clarify your brand’s voice. Is your brand edgy like a Jeep Wrangler? Adorable like a VW bug? Practical like a Honda Civic? Snooty like a Mercedes? 

What is the personality of your organization’s brand? Is it sophisticated?  Highly educated? Elitist? Down-to-earth? Friendly? Folksy? Hip? Funny-witty? Funny-goofy? Sensual? 

Although your brand voice should change slightly for different audiences, your brand personality should stay the same. You don’t talk to your business partner the same way you talk to your grandmother. (Right?) 

Successful brands know that if they try to be everything to everybody, they end up being nothing to nobody. 

Your brand personality is a means of engagement that differentiates you from your competition, especially if the products or services are similar. Based on brand personalities, can you tell the difference between Duracell and Energizer? FedEx and UPS? Geiko and State Farm?

This level of engagement builds strong emotional relationships between your audience and your organization. It can make people love you. In the nonprofit sector, that might include the tearful SPCA commercials featuring the soulful Sarah McLachlan. Other approaches might work better for some audiences, but as soon as the SPCA changes its voice, it risks getting confused with similar organizations and starts down the slippery slope of becoming nothing to nobody.

Does your brand have a voice? A consistent point of view? A particular tone? Could you pick your brand’s persona out of a lineup? Does your brand voice have a gender? An age? A social status? Hire me to use my creative process to help you figure it all out.

Or are you guilty of creating a brand chameleon–just to “play it safe?” Remember what happens when successful brands try to be everything to everybody.

But it doesn’t have to be a risky proposition. You don’t have to be extreme to have a personality. Think about the people you know. Each has their own unique personality, yes? Imagine your brand’s voice channeling a particular person’s personality. Is it the right voice? Can you commit to it?