I recently switched almond milk brands.
Life-changing, I know.
But I walked by a Califia Farms product display a few weeks ago and read this on the back of their almond milk packaging:
"There are a lot of sweet things in the world; surprise parties, puppies, butterfly kisses. We let them do the heavy lifting when it comes to sweetness and keep it real on the sugarless side of life."
I smiled to myself and with a "SOLD!" - hustled that baby into my shopping cart after a quick once-over of the ingredients.
Honestly? It was comparable to the almond milk I was already drinking. And it cost about $3 more.
But the playful personality that almond milk oozed had me convinced that THIS was the brand for me.
(My husband wasn't as convinced. He thinks you should always buy the product that's on sale, even if it's only $0.50 off. This is how I talk him into letting me buy Kate Spade products at the discount store, muahaha.)
I get the same familiar feeling at the end of the Tangerine commercial when they ask: "You work hard for your money. Does your bank?"
I'll fist-pump to that!
I feel like Tangerine is on the same team as me. They talk to me like a wise friend, not an "expert".
But there are other people who would rather trust their money to a bank that uses an authoritative tone...
And that's the power of a brand voice.
So whenever someone says: "Everyone else is saying the same thing or doing the same thing as me."
There's part of me that wants to say: "So what? Who cares? Just do you."⠀
People want to find brands that align with who they are and what they value.
So even if you're selling the same service or product as someone else...
Or saying the same thing as someone else...
HOW you're saying it is what makes you stand out and bump hearts with your people.
Just check out these product description examples from 3 different fashion brands:
"With the territory of rocking this black-and-white gingham dress comes exuberant expressions of adoration from your besties! Take this stretch cotton frock out for a stroll to showcase its tied halter, sweetheart neckline, and circle skirt 'n' you may just find it excites the entire street style scene, as well."
Modcloth has a playful, youthful and vintage-inspired brand voice.
"A lighter-weight linen sweater with a lace-up neckline is our favorite laid-back layer for summer. Wear it over bathing suits, denim shorts and other weekend-ready outfits."
J.Crew has a classic brand voice that breathes simplicity, style and sophistication.
The J. Peterman Company:
She heard I was in Charleston for the weekend and invited me to a “little get-together” at her family’s estate in the Old Village.
I arrive (along with 200 other guests) at the most pristine white colonial I’ve ever seen, Susanna fluttering about the manicured lawn in a swingy belted dress that would’ve put Scarlett’s velvet curtains to shame.
Is it a coincidence that six of South Carolina’s most eligible bachelors amble hopefully behind Susanna and her dress as she hands out red velvet cupcakes?
There’s charming the Tarleton twins on the front porch and then there’s Susanna’s method (a touch more subtle).
Flirtatious and chaste aren’t always polar opposites, you know."
The J. Peterman Company has a descriptive brand voice that chases colourful curiosities, exudes sophistication, and captures the spirit of adventure.
While ALL of these companies are selling clothing, can you see how their brand voices set them apart?
WHY WE STRUGGLE TO FIND (AND OWN) OUR BRAND VOICE
If you worry about the opinions of others, you're not the only one. (Recovering people-pleaser here.)
What if we don't sound professional? Smart or "expert" enough? Cold and unapproachable? Too creative and flowery...or worse, boring?
We think we're "supposed" to write a certain way, whether it's the way our Grade 8 English teacher taught us, our corporate career taught us, or some internet famous entrepreneur taught us.
We throw in some big words, so people will take us more seriously and invite us to their art gallery fundraisers.
We get Urban-Dictionary-happy and drop some F-bombs, so people will think we're cool even though we'd never say "five by five!" with our friends.
We even borrow jokes from our dad (the horror!), because aren't funny people more likable?
I get it. I've done it too. And like you, I didn't just stumble on my brand voice one day.
It's a process, an evolution, an ongoing adventure.
And developing your brand voice isn't about supersizing your personality, ok?
So please don't think you have to break up with your adorable shyness just because some copywriter told you to BE BOLDER!
It's about owning and expressing your brand vibe and values. Whether that's in a quiet and introspective way, a refined and articulate way, or a nerdy and irreverent way.
The beauty is: You (and your audience) get to decide what your brand voice is.
WHY YOU NEED A BRAND VOICE
No. 1 - Your brand voice is how people connect with you
Your brand voice is an expression of who you are behind the brand — your personality, your values, your beliefs.
Props to Maya Angelou who says it best:
"I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel."
No matter what message you're sharing, how you say it is what's going to impact people most.
Are you going to motivate people? Inspire them? Reassure them?
Because that's the feeling they'll remember...and how they'll remember your brand.
No. 2 - Your brand voice makes you instantly recognizable
The screen pans out...hundreds of cute, fluffy penguins waddle along...and that familiar tenor pitch pours into your ear holes.
"There are few places hard to get to in this world. But there aren't any where it's harder to live."
Wait a minute. You recognize that voice!
Oh, Morgan Freeman. You dashing narrator, you.
We all have our own words, slang, expressions, rhythm and tone.
Like Bruno Mars' signature silk suits and Tom Selleck's 'tache, your brand voice is an accessory that your business wears.
It's that thing that helps you get known and get recognized, so you stand out in the online crowd.
No. 3 - Your brand voice builds trust through consistency
When you show up the same way across every marketing and social media platform, your audience knows what to expect.
And people are more likely to trust what's familiar to them.
If you're wishy-washy, flipping from formal to informal language, or inconsistent with the type of vocabulary you use, it's easy for your audience to get confused. And confusion is the ultimate sales buzzkill.
If consistency breeds familiarity, and familiarity breeds trust...
Your brand voice needs to be a part of that.