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How The Best Brands Find Their Voice

published on
September 23, 2019

Brand voice is the element that is woven through all aspects of a brand. It speaks for the brand’s persona, humanizes the brand’s communications, empowers the brand’s consumer appeal. So how can you create a brand voice that cuts through, clarifies, and drives preference? We’ll show you.

Every brand speaks. But not all have a voice.

Like endless items on a vast, cruise ship buffet, brands vie for the attention of picky, jaded consumers. The best earn preference with a brilliant mix of brand credentials – colors, fonts, story, campaign, and more. But the critical ingredient that makes the recipe work? Brand voice.

Brand voice is the element that is woven through all aspects of a brand, including (as we will explore shortly) its social media, in-person touchpoints, even packaging. In a nutshell, brand voice defines the personality of the brand. It speaks for the brand’s persona, it humanizes the brand’s communications, it empowers the brand’s consumer appeal. Without a distinct voice, brands go unseen and unwanted in this grand, brand buffet, outflanked by the king crab legs and dripped on by the ice sculpture.

Let’s look at a real-world example: insurance. It ain’t a sexy category, but it sure gets its share of brand time. Without even realizing it, we’ve all been heavily influenced by brand voices across the insurance industry. In fact, here’s a little test: Think about the way these five insurance brands speak. Go ahead, we’ll wait… 

Flo from Progressive Insurance - Source

1.   Geico

2.   State Farm

3.   Progressive

4.   Allstate

5.   Farmers

Surprised? Yep, even in this traditionally low-interest category, each of these brands has an extremely well-defined, highly crafted brand voice. From Geico, with its crazy-quilt mix of irreverence, to State Farm, with its sports celeb-fueled cadence of endorsement, to Farmers, with its drumbeat of “seen-it-all” reassurance, these brand voices speak with cohesion across campaign, social media, and even (when done right) at the agent-outreach level.

So how can you create a brand voice that cuts through, clarifies, and drives preference? At Simon/Myers, we start this quest like all others: With research, data, and a resulting strategy. By employing our Digital Insights Suite™, we unleash modern tools for social listening and data mining.

If the brand under revitalization is an existing brand, we learn about current consumer sentiment, the competitive set, and macro trends in the consumer ecosystem. These tools allow us to tailor-craft brand transformation – and particularly brand voice – to properly empower the brand to be relevant, competitive and embraced going forward.

If the brand is fresh and new, the tools shift. We go in search of the most lucrative white space among the pantheon of competitive products, then carve out a distinctive space for the brand to live for the long term. Again, a deep understanding of the audience – their motivations, expectations, and unmet needs – is the trigger for success here.

With a tight strategy in hand, the fun begins. Personas (the humanized personality/skills of the brand) are explored. The traits that our consumers will find most desirable are brought to the fore. And piece by piece, brand voice takes shape.

What is the true litmus test of a well-crafted brand voice (beyond consumer acceptance, of course)? It’s how readily and naturally it can be adapted across all touchpoints of the brand. If all agency partners and internal stakeholders can speak like the brand, comfortably, naturally, willingly, then congratulations – you’ve earned the brand voice medal.

As brand communications have evolved from monologue to dialogue, the opportunities to speak in the brand voice have multiplied exponentially. For example, Sprout Social reports here how a brand should speak with consistency across its social media, from Instagram captions to DMs to bio summaries. In fact, we advocate that a brand extend that cadence to its Help Desk replies, pop-up experiences, store design, packaging and more.

After all, a human doesn’t switch personalities moment-to-moment (OK, some of us might, but that’s a different post…). For a brand to be seen as rock-steady, relatable and lovable, an endearing and unwavering brand voice is a true separator. Otherwise, life in the great brand buffet may be one of soggy anonymity.

If you find yourself in search of a powerful voice for brands new or established, Simon/Myers is your guide. Just reach out here.

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