Imagine you’re visiting the American Airlines website to book some airline tickets. When you arrive at the homepage, big bold letters soar across the screen: “TRUST US. WE KNOW WHERE THE WINGS ARE.”
Something feels off. Something is out of place. That something is the brand voice.
Brand voice is the tone with which a brand speaks to its audience, and it determines every aspect of a company’s communication: website content, blog content, newsletters, social media posts, packaging, etc. There are numerous methods to finding that voice, but going through them would be a much longer discussion. For now, let’s clear up some common misconceptions about brand voice:
There’s a perfect method to finding it.
If there was a “perfect method” to this madness, then finding your brand voice wouldn’t be such a challenging, occasionally arduous task… but it can be. It’s a process that requires a considerable amount of listening, research, imagination, teamwork, and trial-and-error.
Your brand voice must speak to all audiences.
To disprove this, let’s consider a brand we’re all familiar with: Old Spice. In 2008, Old Spice achieved a full brand makeover that brought them a new demographic—young men!—and rescued the brand from extinction. Is the tone for all audiences? Of course not. (A recent tweet reads: “Inside every good man is a skeleton with bad hair who regrets not buying Old Spice hair gel. Anatomy is weird.”) But their sardonic and irreverent take on traditional machismo plays perfectly to young men, and by golly, it works.
Once you’ve settled on your brand voice, it’s set in stone. For life.
Relax. Your brand voice is not engraved on your website (and besides, that’s not how computers work). Brands evolve all the time, and the voice naturally evolves with them. You may decide to “switch it up” because your ideal demographic isn’t responding to your new tone… or because business is slow… or because you simply want a change.
Even global corporations like American Airlines struggle to find the perfect tone for their business, so don’t aim for perfection. Just aim for authenticity. When it comes to branding, that’s always a great place to begin.
Published online at Community Newspapers.
About Brand Poets
Founded by Tana M. Llinas, Brand Poets is a collective of strategists, storytellers, and digital artisans crafting smart, poignant campaigns that command attention.