How To Create A Brand “Voice” Guide

November 4, 2015

If I could ask clients for one doc when I start working with them, I’d ask for a brand voice guideline.  This doc would assist us right across their business; from email management to social media, document formatting to online campaigns and newsletters. This article takes you through some tips on how to create your own brand voice (and/or) tone guide and I’ve included 3 examples at the bottom to inspire you as you create your own!

4 tips for finding your brand’s voice

  1. Know who you’re talking to and how they communicate.  If your client base is made up of teen girls, a tweet saying “I appreciate that you’re having trouble with this application and we will rectify the problem by end of business”.  Instead a brief, “Hey thanks heaps for the heads up, we’ll get onto that pronto and flick you an update when sorted.”
  2. Know the words you won’t use and include this list in your guide. These words are often industry and audience specific, if you are selling pies to eskimos you may include the word “cool”.  If on the other hand you’re selling pies to plumbers you may not want to use the word “succulent”.
  3. Identify your brand tone as well as your voice.  While team members may have different voices, the tone is very much part of your company’s brand.  Buffer has a fantastic tone guide which addresses how they communicate with their clients.  I love this!
  4. Don’t overcomplicate. This is a guide which helps those working with you (not to mention you yourself!) in your business to communicate in a way that represents the company well and builds relationships.  You want to give your team the freedom to show personality and the ability for your team to easily understand and own (without referring back to a chunky ringbinder) your brand’s voice.

Examples I am in awe of

This first example looks at using a four-part formula suggested by Stephanie Schwab, writing for Social Media Explorer.

 

social-media_brand_voice-300x200

 

Example #2 goes into detail saying why we communicate as we do.  And the why is the soul of your brand.  Knowing ‘why’ we don’t say something a certain way ensures your brand voice is actually used by your team.

 

voice and tone guidelines

 

Example 3 is Mailchimp’s brand voice and tone guide and it’s good.  I can remember years ago when I opened my first Mailchimp account how the voice and tone connected with me.  It gave their application a personality that stuck in my mind and features aside was part of the reason I chose Mailchimp over it’s competitors.

Mailchimp voice and tone

 

Actions

  • Start with a one page doc, and infographic or notes in your diary but start creating your brand voice guidelines if you don’t already have something in your resource library.
  • Work through the 4 points above.
  • Think about how you communicate now as a company.  What you like about your current voice and what needs to change.
  • Start with some examples of social media updates, responses to complaints, email sign-offs, meeting requests, website content … and write down a positive and negative way to communicate in each of these.  Don’t forget the why and what aspects of your brand personality is represented in these examples.
  • Have fun and get your team to collaborate with you on this.

Then tell me what your rules are for your brand voice in the comments below.

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