One of the most important aspects of branding on social media is creating a distinctive, authentic voice. Many companies have defined their voice so well that people can identify their tweets and Facebook posts without even seeing the source of the content. For example, Taco Bell has nailed down the funny, quirky voice that appeals to teenagers and young adults with odd hours and unconventional schedules. Another great example is the company Innocent Drinks. Hearing about juice products all day would get tiring, so instead the company posts insightful, conversational quips that show a sense of humor.
Developing a clear brand voice isn’t difficult, but it does require serious thought and a number of conscious decisions. Without carefully working through the steps to develop a voice, the brand may begin to feel fuzzy or unidentifiable to consumers, who, in turn, will feel less of an emotional connection. Inconsistences in voice become more apparent and more troublesome as companies grow, so it’s important to define the voice early on and give it space to grow and evolve along with the organization. When it comes to the initial definition of a unifying voice, the following tips can help forge a cohesive, authentic viewpoint.
Define the company and its relationship to consumers using three words.
While three words isn’t a lot of room to describe such a broad topic as the relationship between a brand and consumers, defining the relationship this narrowly helps create a succinct and distinguishable voice. When thinking about these adjectives, marketing professionals should consider the culture of the company, its relationship to the industry, and what makes its products and services better than others on the market. At this point, it can be helpful to talk about the voice of competitors and try to define how they would characterize themselves. Doing so often reveals a niche that the company can naturally occupy to win over customers.
Marketers need to remember that social media is meant to inspire an emotional investment from consumers. What kinds of consumers are targeted, and what types of communication will win their hearts and minds? This question helps identify what direction a company should take, whether it is toward comedy or sincerity, quirkiness or authority.
Look at current content with a critical eye on distinctive voice.
A great way to start developing your company’s voice is to cast a wide net and collect much of the media you’ve already published across different networks. Examining this selection, marketers can ask themselves which content could have come from any of their competitors and which ones seem distinctly from their own organization. By getting rid of content that is bland, basic, or uninspired, organizations can start to get a better sense of the unique voice they have already started to develop.
This strategy can have one of two primary effects. First, companies may find that they have not distinguished themselves at all, or that they have done so in a way that they don’t like. In this case, a rebrand may be necessary to forge a new place in the market and communicate to consumers exactly what the company stands for and what it’s trying to sell. Second, organizations may find that they already have a distinctive voice that they want to magnify. Defining what makes that voice so distinct is the key to reinforcing the brand identity.
Create a clear guide for content producers to follow.
Once organizations have a better sense of what does and doesn’t work for them, as well as how they want to define their voice moving forward, they can begin to think about how the description of the voice translates into content. This step can seem easier than it really is. For each defining characteristic of the voice, marketers need to define exactly what they mean by that characteristic and offer examples of content that does and does not adhere to it. Concrete examples provide the best instruction for content producers.
Over time, marketing teams should revisit their descriptions and make sure that their guidelines are producing the type of content they expect. If the content coming from the company still does not appear to have a distinct voice, perhaps the characteristics need more definition, or they need to be rethought completely.