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“What is brand voice and why do I need it?” is a question we are often asked by fellow entrepreneurs.  It’s true that there are so many issues to consider when running a successful business, but Brand Voice is something that can’t be neglected in an effective messaging campaign.

Do you ever feel like you’re surrounded by people who do something similar to what you do? That’s not unusual or uncommon. The truth is, a lot of businesses offer similar services. In an ever-more-crowded space, the more you can stand out the easier it is to draw in the right clients.

There’s a lot you can do to stand out, but one of the most powerful {and oft-neglected!} strategies is developing a clear understanding of your Brand Voice and how it fits into your content marketing plan.

A voice that is immediately recognizable allows your target audience to connect with you. If your voice shifts and changes constantly, it becomes difficult for your audience to trust you, remember you, and buy from you.

Think about it this way. What if you changed your business’ logo and brand colors every few weeks? Not only would it look super inconsistent, but it would make it difficult for your audience to remember who you were and what you did. {We go into more detail about the dangers of a confused Brand Voice here.}

Brand Voice works the same way, only it’s even more integral to your business, because you communicate with your audience every single day across multiple platforms. When you give a speech, run a workshop, post on Instagram, send an email, promote a program, or even answer a DM… you’re falling back on your Brand Voice.

Not only that, but once you have a clear idea of what your Brand Voice is, you can outsource it to other people. Yes — you can actually train other people to sound like you, so you don’t have to constantly create your own content.

Wondering what exactly is Brand Voice? Let’s dive in.

5 Components of Brand Voice

Brand Voice may feel abstract — like it can never be replicated by anyone but yourself. But that couldn’t be further from the truth. Your Brand Voice consists of five interwoven parts, all of which can be captured, learned, and handed off.

When you successfully capture your voice, you can outsource your content marketing strategy with confidence — knowing that the person who takes over has the tools they need to sound like you.

So what is Brand Voice, if not some abstract, ethereal thing? It consists of five core components:

Style

Of the five components, this is the most abstract, so let’s get it out of the way first. The style portion of Brand Voice refers to the way your brand communicates. How does it use humor? What is its overarching personality? What core values drive the brand’s content?

 Does your brand show up as brash, confident, and rebellious? Or is it soft, nurturing, and empowering? Do you use metaphor to explain concepts? Or do you prefer to lean on straightforward examples?

 Style also gets into the nitty gritty of how you use the written word. Are you writing in American English, British English, or Canadian English? Do your parentheses use cute, curly brackets {}? How do you feel about the Oxford comma? 

All of these details impact the overall style of your Brand Voice.

Words

Your Brand Voice is all about verbal communication — so it starts with words. What specific words does your brand use that allows it to have its own unique flair? In particular, pay attention to the adjectives and verbs that show up when you talk about your brand or write your own content.

Take two soap companies. One might describe their soap as “nourishing”. Another might describe their product as “invigorating”.

Or two coaching companies. One might offer a service that “pushes” and “motivates” their clients. Another might prefer to describe the same services as one that “guides” and “encourages” their clients. Similar outcome, very different feel.

Phrases

Don’t stop at the words you use. What phrases speak to your brand’s communication style? Maybe there are subheads or catchphrases you always use. Maybe it’s just a way your brand conveys an idea, or a silly turn of phrase that is just you.

For example, “capture your voice” is something we at North Star say so often it’s an integral part of our Brand Voice. It’s part of who we are and what we do. Same with “build a bridge” (between yourself and your audience) and “find your North Star”.

Avoiders

On the opposite end of the spectrum are the words and phrases your brand would never use — unless it’s to push against it. For example, there’s a popular term in the marketing world you may have heard of: ideal client avatar. This is used to help people hone in on who they serve. And while it certainly has its uses, we include ideal client avatar in our “avoider” list. At North Star, we prefer the term “target audience”. This sprang up after we spent years working with clients who felt that the traditional ideal client avatar was too stifling.

What words and phrases does your brand actively avoid? Maybe it’s because of an ideological difference, maybe it’s personal preference, or maybe it’s to differentiate yourself from others in your field. Knowing this will help you capture your Brand Voice and hand it off without worrying about your new writer slipping something in that doesn’t work.

Stories

The best way to connect to your audience is through story, and the stories you choose to tell are an integral part of brand voice. These can be the core stories that you fall back on again and again — like your Origin Story — or they can be anecdotal microstories that you use to explain a concept. 

We recommend knowing your five core stories and working from there to develop microstories.

How to Capture Your Brand Voice

Now that you know what Brand Voice is, how do you capture it? 

The simple answer? You listen. At North Star we’ve developed a strategy for capturing Brand Voice that each and every one of our clients goes through, and it all comes down to listening. You can practice with your team, a business partner, or even a family member or friend. Start paying attention to the words and phrases they use, the personality they bring to their communication, and the stories they tell.

You’ll be surprised what you start to pick up on, and how it impacts your content marketing strategy.

If you want to get started identifying what is your own Brand Voice, head on over to the Copywriting Character Quiz. This will give you insight into a piece of your brand’s style, one of the key components of Brand Voice.


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