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EPISODE 1: What Is Brand Voice and Why Does It Matter?

by Oct 6, 2020Podcast

In this episode we will cover:

  • How we define “brand voice”
  • What happens if you don’t have a clearly defined brand voice? 
  • Can a big company have a specific brand voice? 
  • Building brand recognition
  • Real benefits of having a clear voice
  • How to get started on defining your brand voice

If you’re at all familiar with North Star Messaging + Strategy, you’ll know that we talk a LOT about brand voice. But what exactly is it? And does it really matter if you have one? {Short answer: YES!}

In our first episode, we dive into the components of brand voice and why it’s so important for a business to nail this down. Large or small, taking the time on the front end to work on this important aspect of your content marketing will save you time, money, and energy on the back end. 

 

You’ll also learn: 

  • How we define “brand voice” {because definitions matter}
  • What happens if you don’t have a clearly defined brand voice {Hint: It’s a mess!}
  • That even large businesses need to consider brand voice
  • How to build brand recognition
  • The real benefits of having a clear voice

 

If you’d like to take the first step on your journey to capture your brand voice, start with our free Copywriting Character Quiz. {We like to think of it as your copywriting avatar.}

Then tag @northstarmessaging on Instagram and let us know your copywriting character!

 

TRANSCRIPT

Jessi:
Welcome to the Brand Your Voice Podcast, where we're digging into how you can create personality-driven content that connects and converts. I'm Jessi.

Marie:
And I'm Marie. We're the co-founders of North Star Messaging + Strategy, where we support business owners in outsourcing content without sacrificing authenticity.

Jessi:
Every brand has a unique voice that sets it apart. We're digging into how to capture the way your brand communicates from the words you use to the stories you tell, so you can create more compelling content that strategically helps you meet your business goals.

Marie:
And if you choose to outsource that content, you'll be able to do so with confidence, knowing your brand voice is in good hands and you can reclaim your time. We're so glad you're here and hope you enjoy this episode.

Jessi:
All right, welcome to episode one of the Brand Your Voice Podcast. Today we are diving right into the namesake of this podcast, which is: brand voice. And we're going to talk a little bit about what brand voice is and why it matters for you and your brand. And to start that out, let's just get a basic definition of what brand voice is. And when we talk about brand voice, we talk about it as the way in which your brand communicates through words, phrases, stories, and tone. You can think about it just like you think about your color palette or your typography or photography for your brand. That is unique to you and your brand and it helps convey something to your audience and the way that you communicate the words and the phrases that you use, the stories that you tell, all of that helps communicate your brand's personality as well.

Marie:
So this, you might think of it as kind of next-level branding, but honestly, this is something you could be thinking about right from the beginning. And here's what happens when you're not thinking about brand voice. Sometimes you're going to run into this issue where it just feels like your content is just run of the mill. It doesn't really stand out. It's not doing a great job of attracting your target audience. It's not really connecting with them very genuinely, or maybe it is, but there's just not a lot of people that are attracted to it. You find yourself kind of in this place where you're either roboting, kind of trying to sound very professional, or you may be kind of in the clone zone where you're taking a look at people who you respect and admire and just sort of duplicating what they're doing.
And obviously, yes, we have a lot to learn from other people, always, but you always have a different way that you can optimally be sharing your message. The way that someone else is doing it isn't necessarily going to work for you or your audience. And so it's a great place to start sometimes when we're thinking about this, but ultimately you're going to have to veer into your own territory and maybe that just hasn't happened yet. And so, as a result, it's like your brand kind of has this blank slate personality, that it really could be anyone behind there if you just took away the name and the photo. And the other problem with this is that sometimes it feels like your message is a little murky. It's not quite clear exactly what it is you're doing, why you're the person to serve, why your offers are the right offers for those people. It's just a little unclear.

Jessi:
Yeah. I really loved that reference to the robot zone or the clone zone because I think this is something that a lot of people run into really early on. And then if they sort of get in the habit early on, it sticks with them, especially this sort of robotic writing that we all learn in school, right? We learn to write a certain professional, academic way as we're going through school that may not remotely reflect your personality or your brand's personality so it's so important to kind of break free of that and find the voice that really makes sense for you and your brand.
And this carries over too. If you are no longer responsible for writing your own content, or if you're dreaming of the day when you can hand it off, this comes into play as well. You might struggle to hire someone who you trust can actually sound like you. Or if you do hire someone and they write content, you may find yourself in there editing and revising nonstop because they don't necessarily know how to sound like you, they don't necessarily have a system or a resource where they can look and say, "Oh, this is how I reflect this brand." And this can really end up leading back to that murky message and leading back to something that's inconsistent and doesn't stand out. And if your team ends up growing, then it just ends up sounding like you have messaging and content coming from a whole bunch of different people, which may not make sense for your specific brand. It's not unified and there's not necessarily a set personality that your audience will know to look forward to hearing from.

Marie:
Right. I mean, even if you have say a corporate blog where you want to encourage different people from your company to contribute content to that, that's great. Obviously, they're all going to have their own take and personality, and that's one of the features of it. And yet there also needs to be a unification behind that, right? Of like, "These, above all, are our brand values, this is some of the stuff that we believe, this is some of the stuff that we teach or we embody." So there always needs to be a layer of this, even if you are comfortable with having multiple voices represent your brand.
So let's talk about what happens once you do really give this brand voice concepts some thought and some energy. One is that personality of the brand that before was so blah is now going to be immediately recognizable. It doesn't matter now if you don't have the logo or the name or the photo. If you have a very strong brand voice, people don't need that to know exactly who sent this email to them or exactly who's putting this message into their social media feed. That means you're really going to be able to separate yourself from the crowd.
And there's some debate over whether competition really is that big of a deal because we all can find that unique value proposition and there's never going to be another identical business to yours, but are you really capitalizing on that? Are you really letting that shine? Are you allowing that to let you stand out from the crowd? Going through the brand voice process really is going to allow that to happen.

Jessi:
Absolutely, and it allows there to be more alignment between what content you're putting out there and things that are happening behind the scenes, like your brand values, making sure that that content aligns with the offers that you're putting out there and that it is showing up in every place that you're creating content and there's not a discrepancy between the way that your emails sound versus the way that your website sounds versus the way that someone will interact with you in-person when they finally hop on a call with you. It's very jarring to have all of the content read one way and have one sort of personality and then someone hops on a call and the person they speak to it's completely different and not reflective of those values of that personality of that voice. And so creating that consistency can really help you as a solopreneur or as someone who's outsourcing your content, whether it's because you have your own team or whether you're hiring someone else so that you can continue to scale and grow and create those mountains of content that every business requires without sacrificing any authenticity. And that allows you to reclaim time for higher-impact activities within your business, for delivering on your offers, for making sales, for building those genuine relationships. And all of that leads to your revenue going up with qualified people who are excited to work with you.

Marie:
Exactly. There really is a cold, hard cash ROI benefit to brand voice. So one of those is getting you out of the content creation, which is what Jessi's talking about here. If you're able to reclaim that time, what else can you be doing with that time to benefit your business? But it's not just about outsourcing, it's also about the content itself. If the content itself has a unified thought through strategic brand voice, you're also going to be able to create those true relationships between consumers and the brands. And you're going to be able to ensure that they're feeling more excited about investing in your offers.
I mean, I want you to think here for a second about, is there a brand that you really like, and maybe a brand where you've actually never met anyone who works there? You don't actually have a personal relationship with their CEO, but you care about the brand and you want to support them and that's always the first place you go for that.
For me, an example of this would be like REI. Yesterday I was sitting there taking a survey for them, an audience research survey for them that took 15 minutes, would I do this for about any other brand in the world that I don't know anybody yet? No, but I really liked them. I liked their values and so I decided, yeah, I'm going to take the time to do this and it's because they have unification of their values, their message, their offers, everything is very aligned and the brand voice is the touchpoint for me connecting with that brand.

Jessi:
Yeah. So I have a question for you, Marie?

Marie:
Yes.

Jessi:
Before we wrap this up and talk about how you can start creating your own brand voice, I want us to talk a little bit about how really developing a brand voice process has helped us with our clients and has helped our clients create more consistent content and copy. So I was wondering if you could share what has changed for our clients since we developed a brand voice process and started capturing it and what sort of results our clients have seen.

Marie:
Yeah, for sure. So on the front end, just within the initial capturing process, before we even deliver anything, before you even say, "Here you go on a silver platter, here's your brand voice," it's fascinating because our clients will say, "I feel so much clearer now." Just the process of talking through some very targeted questions makes our clients think through things that otherwise often go to the back burner, right? This is the stuff that it's just not a fire to put out right now but, as a result, it's really harming their business in the long run and over the big picture. And so this really allows them to get clear on where they're going next and how they want to speak to the right target audience to help them get there. So there's a lot of clarity right in the moment.
And then from there, then they're able to take this brand voice guide that we produced for them and they're able to develop content strategies, they're able to hire writers, they're able to make sure that their content is actually moving them closer to their business goals. You don't need to be creating content because somebody said you need to be creating content. The reason content is so valuable is because it has the power to move you towards your business goals, but sometimes we lose sight of that in this hamster wheel of unending blog posts and podcast episodes. It's not about content for content's sake and sometimes we all forget about that. And so this really helps ground our clients in making sure that the strategy is there.
And then, of course, yes, they could step out of the work then and reclaim that time, but the other piece of this that is so valuable is then being able to, from there, really make sure that the editing process goes smoothly, that they're able to step out of it with confidence, that they're really able to outsource this without sacrificing the authenticity because that's something that is a huge concern for our clients because we tend to work with people who are very concerned about how their values are showing up, they want to be authentic, they want to form those relationships, and this is the best answer I think we've found to addressing that without them having to stay stuck in it. Are there any other benefits that you've seen Jessi?

Jessi:
Yeah. You know, I was thinking about when we started putting this process into our workflow with our clients and the different types of clients we've worked with over the years, and I think that the benefit that really rings true to me comes from some of the testimonials we've received from clients where they say things like, "The content you wrote, or the copy that you wrote sounds more like me than me." And I think that that is evidence of the ability to truly adapt a voice.
And, Marie, you mentioned the brand voice guide, which for those of you listening at home, if you've ever encountered a style guide, if you've been in a corporate setting or whatnot, the guide that we create for our clients that captures their brand voice is similar to that, but it has our own spin on it because we're really not focused so much on, "Do you use the Oxford comma or not?" we're focused more on, what are those words that you use that really emphasize your personality? What are the phrases that you use or don't use? Because sometimes that's just as important. What do you stay away from and why? And then what are the stories that you tell? And having all of that information in one place, in one document, that you can hand off to someone or that you can use yourself has been so beneficial for the clients that we've worked with and the clients that we no longer work with who have gone off and had that guide as a resource beyond that.
And it's nothing magical. It's nothing that you'd be incapable of replicating, it's something that every business, we believe, should have just like you have your brand colors because it's a part of how you communicate, it's a part of how you connect with people and build those relationships.

Marie:
Exactly. So we want to invite you to get started with us. We have a tried and true quiz called our Copyrighting Character Quiz, that hundreds of business owners just like you have taken over the course of the last several years. And what's going to happen is we'll ask you 10 questions in the quiz and maybe a few other questions at the end, but really 10 questions about how you communicate. And then from there, you're going to get a result, your copywriting character is going to be one of five different archetypes.
And I really encourage you to take a look at the report that you get because it's going to help you understand this is the way that I naturally communicate as the voice of the brand and so that's really where I can lean into my strengths and it's also permission to stay and not worry so much about those things that you feel like are weaknesses or areas for improvement. Sure. Yes. I mean, we all have areas for improvement, but let's also really lean into our strengths because that's the stuff that's easy and fun for us, and chances are, it's the reason our audience is coming to us in the first place.
You'll also get a headstart on your word guide, your branded word bank, so that way you can start having some ideas to come up with words that may be really suitable for your brands. And it'll give you a headstart on a few other pieces of your brand voice guide process.

Jessi:
Absolutely. So to find your copyrighting character, which of those five archetypes you fall into, and those five, by the way, are the rebel, the artist, the nurturer, the scholar, and the architect. To figure out which one of those five you are, you can go to northstarmessaging.com/character, and we'll include that link in the show notes for you.

Marie:
Exactly. So have fun. And we hope that you were able to get some great insight out of that.
Thanks for joining us for this episode of the Brand Your Voice Podcast. Make sure to visit our website northstarmessaging.com, where you can subscribe to the show on iTunes, Spotify, and more.

Jessi:
If you found value in this episode, we'd love for you to leave us a review on iTunes and share it with your friends. Thank you and happy content creating.

For additional content strategy and branding tips, check out northstarmessaging.com/blog. Also, please tag us on Instagram and let us know you’re out there! @northstarmessaging 


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