Identify Your Personality
Come up with three to five words that describe how you want your brand personality to come across. Do you want your brand to be quirky, warm, and personal or insightful, professional, and authoritative? The way you write your copy is going to be very different depending on which of these characteristics you have in mind.
Take two makeup companies as an example: Urban Decay and Estée Lauder. Both sell similar products, but Urban Decay’s personality is edgy, young, and humorous, while Estée Lauder’s brand voice is sophisticated, mature, and glamorous. Both companies sell essentially the same product, but their voices cater to very different audiences.
Research Your Customers
Pick a few people who you know like your brand (you know that one person who “likes” and comments on every Instagram post you make? She’s who I’m talking about) and make an effort to learn more about them. Check out their online presence–social media accounts can show you a lot about a person! You can also send them email surveys, ask questions on your Instagram stories, and take a look at what other brands they follow.
Try asking your Instagram followers what they think of a new product idea to gauge their tastes. Here is a great example by Grub Street, who used Instagram to ask what people thought of a new donut flavor:
Keep Your Mission in Mind
Think about your company’s values and consider how those values could come through in your content. Your mission statement should always be in your mind when you’re writing any copy, whether it’s a simple email to one person or a blog post your whole client base is going to read. Does your mission involve being inclusive and promoting diversity? Make sure your copy uses inclusive language every time.
Take a look at eyewear company Warby Parker’s mission statement: “to offer designer eyewear at a revolutionary price, while leading the way for socially conscious businesses.” You can see this in their brand voice—everything they put out there is not just about stylish glasses, but their ethical stance as well.
Borrow and Learn from Other Brands
Look at other brands whose voice you like (in your industry or others) and think about what exactly you like about them and find a way to incorporate that feeling into your own brand voice. It is also a good idea to think about what you do not like about other brands.
It’s important that you don’t just mimic the brands you like, but figure out exactly why you like certain aspects of the brand voice and think about how you can create the same kind of feeling. Do you like that a certain brand uses dry, sarcastic humor? Don’t copy their jokes, but go for a similar tone and integrate that type of humor into your content.
No matter what product or service you are selling, you can use your brand voice to make your customer feel a certain way. Sharpie does a great job of this–you wouldn’t necessarily think a permanent marker brand would be out there empowering people and making them feel like their best selves, but that’s exactly what they’re doing. I know which marker brand I’d choose.
Make Up a Character and Write for Them
Think about your target audience and create a character that exemplifies it. Give your character a name. Consider details about them, such as:
- How old they are
- Their gender
- Whether or not they have children
- What type of work they do
- Their education level
- What they do for fun
- Whether they are single, in a relationship, or married
- What their politics are
- Their income
Match Your Visuals to Your Voice
Your design aesthetic and your brand voice should go together. If you have a fun, brightly colored website and your copy all reads very formally, there’s going to be a disconnect and your content won’t resonate. Make sure that the tone of your visual design including your logo, website, social, etc. fits your brand’s voice. Look at a brand like Lush Cosmetics, for example. They have a fun, bold, quirky voice and the visual design of their website is bright, bold, and fun to match.
Use Your Voice Every Time
Always be consistent. Make sure your brand voice comes through on every single piece of copy you create, from emails to social media to product descriptions. You may think that if you’re just writing a one-sentence “thank you” email you don’t have to worry about brand voice, but you do! In order to build a brand that people recognize and trust, you need your unique voice to shine through at every single customer touchpoint.