Insights | February 27, 2020

How to Find Your Brand Voice

What is a Brand Voice? A brand voice is a meaningful and relatable way to connect with your audience. It’s the soul of who you are as a business and the core of what truly influences consumers.

By Gerald Schoenhoff

A mature brand that existed in the market for a long time can be at risk of losing touch with its consumers if its brand voice is no longer making that connection.

For a newly created brand, the voice is that soul that impacts people and forms that instant connection. Think of Wealthsimple or Bubly sparkling water as good examples of new voices in the market and Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) as an established brand that has kept its voice current.

There are three things you need to know:

First, finding your brand voice starts with finding your brand truth.

Secondly, you need to have a healthy and objective level of self-awareness.

Thirdly, there must be a clear understanding of what makes you unique.

A playful brand voice example by Bubly Sparkling Water 

To find your brand truth, there are some key questions to take into consideration.

  • Was there a back story to the origin of your brand?
  • What need did your brand meet when it came into existence?
  • Are there some key features that make your brand different?

Another hint to finding your brand truth is to imagine it as a person and try to describe the brand as though you met it at a party. Was the Brand funny, serious, smart, trustworthy, warm, friendly or some other characteristic that you would use to describe a person? Then after going through the different exercises of getting these questions answered, refine the output down to two or three keywords or one concise phrase. If you think that’s impossible, chances are you’d be able to describe Nike or Apple that simply.

So yes, it is possible.

“When applying the craft of visual storytelling, people will take the time to listen to you,” an example of by Wealthsimple.

This final phase is called finding your glass vault. The glass vault is the distillation of all the brand inputs. It is a summation of your brand in one pithy word or phrase. It’s the compass to how you speak, behave or think. For example, Apple’s is simplicity, Nike’s is inspiration and imagination, Volvo’s is safety and Disney’s is magical. That’s a brand truth. The undeniable universally understood essence of who you are, past, present and future.

At CREW, we do a Glass Vault exercise in a two to three-hour workshop with five to ten of the company’s key stakeholders. The broader the work functions, the better. Everybody has a valuable opinion of the brand, it’s important to capture it.

How do you get a healthy and objective self-awareness? From consumer testing, online panels, or seeing what people are saying about you on social media. There are some relatively affordable online testing platforms, like Zappy, that can give you detailed reports with consumer verbatims. The reports will also tell you if there are blind spots that you didn’t think about or negative connections that you don’t want to be associated with. You might even get some ideas that you didn’t consider helping shape your voice and image.

Think of it as going to an honest friend that you trust and asking them what they think about you. You might not like what they have to say, but in the long run, it’ll make you better. The other way of getting consumer insights about your brand is listening online. It can give you some honest feedback; however, it could lack the depth of constructive feedback. Either way, it should be insightful and valuable.

The third thing is having that clear understanding of what makes you unique. This is not a chronologically ordered consideration, but rather something that should inform you throughout your process. As you uncover your history, the reason for being, and define who you’re talking to, ask yourself: does your brand even matter? Will people even care? Most importantly, is there anybody else out there like you?

If you’ve taken the time to (1) carefully and honestly listen to yourself and your intended audience, and (2) apply the craft of visual and verbal storytelling, people will take the time to listen to you, because you’ve found that meaningful and truthful connection.

Our team helped launch a new positioning line that summed up Hardbite Chips active outdoor lifestyle philosophy starting with – All Potato. No Couch. We were able to play off of the original message for new product extensions.

Are you looking for your brand voice? We'd love to help you discover it.