In some ways, building a brand is like creating a character. You want it to have personality, depth, clear motivations, likes and dislikes. You want it to be memorable, likable. You want the people who meet it to feel intrigued but welcomed and inclined to get to know it better.
Every aspect of branding contributes to that character building, from your logo to the colors you choose and the fonts you use. But the part of brand building that gives you the biggest opportunities for breadth and depth: your brand voice.
Your brand’s look can draw or deflect interest. It can influence whether you get a chance to tell your story. It’s the outfit you wear to the party filled with people you want to impress. Your brand’s voice drives the conversations you have there, and whether you’re inspiring people to ask for your Instagram handle or silently slink away.
How do you find your brand voice?
Building a brand voice—if you’re doing it intentionally, strategically—isn’t easy. It’s a persona you may be raising for many years. It can define your products and you as a professional. You need it to be effective, engaging, interesting, and accurate.
Finding that voice is equal parts creativity and psychology. Fundamentally, though, it’s rooted in a single question: If your brand was a person, who would they be?
Sounds simple, and in some ways, it is. But a well-rendered answer is the difference between the Mona Lisa and a stick figure.
You find the details in more (and more specific) questions. How old is your brand persona? Does it live in a city, or the country? Is it serious or funny? Is it super social, or a little shy? What’s your brand’s core motivation? What does it most want to do for your customers? What would it never do?
The answers put a backstory and personality to your brand that you can use to make decisions and frame your voice. You’ll center in attributes that define who your brand is, what it wants, the kind of relationship it has with customers. You’ll start to sense its vocabulary, its cadences—the stories it wants and needs to tell.
Why is a cohesive brand voice important?
A business benefits from defining, cementing, and consistently applying a cohesive brand voice in a few different ways.
One is purely practical. Unless you’re a solopreneur, most every business has multiple people communicating on its behalf, through many different platforms.
A clearly defined brand voice allows all those people to speak in harmony. It gives them guidance and guardrails and minimizes the likelihood that a rogue voice makes your brand say something that tarnishes its reputation or makes it look lost and unfocused.
Another is more emotional, but just as important.
Loyal customers feel connected and invested, and that sensibility grows out of feeling like they know you. They feel like they know you because they’ve come to understand you. They understand you because you’ve made it clear who you are, what drives you, what you will and won’t do, why you’re trustworthy. And your brand voice, shaped intentionally and shared consistently, delivered that story. It let them get to know you.
A disjointed, unfocused brand voice becomes a character that makes no sense to them—a character they can’t know, and don’t trust.
Brand voices that do it right
When it comes to branding, Apple is tough to beat. Every detail is perfected, to the pixel. At its core, Apple’s brand voice celebrates innovation, creativity, and simplicity—they “think different,” which allows you to think different. They surprise you, they give you what you didn’t even know you needed—and they always do it in a way that’s sleek, refined, stylish, but simple to use. They’re the approachable, dependable genius. And their consistency inspires immediate familiarity and cult-like devotion.
Our team works with Caterpillar equipment dealers around the country, so the corporate Caterpillar brand voice is one we’ve gotten to know well. And it’s fun to know well, because it was masterfully shaped. Over a century, Caterpillar built a brand around the ideas of strength, durability, and reliability, intentionally framed with the people who use their machines at the center. The brand seeks to “help our customers build a better, more sustainable world.” Those customers are hardworking construction professionals, so Caterpillar wastes no words, speaks with no pretense, and puts the focus on solutions.
For most of us, our more intimate dealings with healthcare companies come when we’re sick or owe money—emotional states that carry discomfort and worry. Humana’s brand voice is framed to soothe. They focus on care and compassion, speak in a warm, empathetic tone, and seek to make their customers feel supported and comforted. They bring in an air of authority, too—helping customers understand health and wellness—but do so with that same friendly, encouraging tone.
Tire manufacturer Bridgestone’s brand voice evokes authority and innovation—particularly through the lens of sustainability and performance. It’s confident and clear, and it conveys expertise and experience, all of which makes you feel like buying Bridgestone is a sure path to quality and conscientious care. There’s an aspirational bent to the way Bridgestone frames its storytelling, too—they speak in forward-thinking and globally conscious terms, and that tells customers that they should count on Bridgestone to lead, both in technology and social stewardship.
Let’s perfect your brand voice
Branding—in all its forms and all its details—is something we do often, excitedly, and well at Snapshot. If you need a partner to build or rebuild your brand standards, let’s chat.
(In Snapshot’s portfolio, you can also explore work we’ve done with a few of the inspiring brands highlighted above.)