There are concepts in business that you absolutely need to have any chance of survival.
A market with a want or need, a unique position, an offer they want.
Although a unique brand voice doesn’t sit on the top rung of brand must-have’s, it’s absence or presence can make the difference between your brand being remembered or forgotten.
Branding is about being remembered, visually, and verbally.
Your tone of voice is the unique topping on your brand message & presence that leaves a memorable flavour worth tasting.
In this article, you’ll learn what a brand voice is, why it’s important and how to create a unique tone for your brand (With 7 top examples to boot).
What Is Brand Voice?
Brand voice is the way your brand speaks to your audience and is shaped by your brand’s communication style and personality.
Your brand voice may adapt to different platforms like social media posts versus corporate messaging, but it should be consistent across your entire brand experience.
For example, a consumer brand may use cursing or puns on social media platforms but leave it out of their homepage.
Your brand voice (also known as a brand’s tone of voice), is crafted based on who your target audience is and is designed to make the brand feel familiar.
Coupled with the brand’s unique message, the brand voice brings a sense of tangibility and humanity to what can otherwise feel like corporate messaging.
Why Is Brand Voice Important?
Business and branding is a dog-eat-dog world and only the most unique, consistent and relevant brands survive.
There are many boxes that need ticking before a business owner or professional brand-builder can begin to even think about a tone of voice.
A Unique Position
A Compelling Offer
A Tangible Personality
Without these fundamentals in place, an appealing brand voice simply won’t have the environment to have an impact.
But if it does, a well-crafted brand voice can make a brand’s message stick by creating a sense of familiarity.
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Why Brands Must Feel Familiar
Most of our buying decisions are made in our subconscious by our reptilian cortex… which is the oldest and least evolved part of the brain that has kept the human species alive for millions of years.
There’s an old expression you might have heard before that is;
We buy with emotion and justify with logic.
Now, although there’s truth in this saying, it’s not all about emotion.
Our subconscious decision-making follows logic, including many factors from emotion to experience to familiarity.
We’re drawn to familiarity because it represents safety. If you’ve ever been in a social situation where you don’t know anyone and you suddenly hear a familiar voice or accent, you’ll know what I’m talking about.
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Brand Voice vs Brand Personality
Although brand voice is often used interchangeably with the term brand personality, there is a difference between the two.
The brand tone of voice is a tool used to communicate a brand’s personality.
While the brand personality might include visual, verbal and physical attributes of the brand, the brand voice is more specific to the unique mood and tone of the brand’s language and messaging.
So in essence your brand personality and brand voice are used together to create a brand that feels human.
7 Best Brand Voice Examples
So enough of all the background. Let’s get into some successful brand examples so we can see exactly how a brand’s tone of voice is expressed and how that enhances the effectiveness of the messaging.
Example #1: OMSOM
In case you haven’t heard of OMSOM, it’s a brand founded by two Vietnamese sisters, Venessa and Kim, with an absolute red-hot passion for bold Asian spices and flavours.
They offer Asian spice packs to spice up dinner time because
Real deal Asian cuisine and communities are too damn delicious to deny.
And in case the name wasn’t memorable enough for you, their URL is omsom.com. You’re not exactly gonna have to write that one down.
Growing up in the U.S. as the daughters of Vietnamese refugees, their passion was forged at the family’s kitchen counter, watching their mom cook Viet dishes from scratch every night.
To say that this brand has a very distinct personality and tone of voice would be a massive understatement.
Everything about this brand is BOLD, LOUD, PROUD and FIEREY.
From their luminous Orange and Yellow RGB colour palette to their big and bold type, you’re left in absolutely no doubt from the first glance what they’re about.
To complement their bold visuals and lively attitude, they really drive home the personality of the brand in how they use a consistent voice right throughout their messaging to set the mood.
On their “MEET US” page, they explain the origin of the brand name.
Omsom is a Vietnamese phrase meaning noisy, rambunctious, riotous. Most often used by parents (hit: ours) to scold unruly raucous children in the back of the car.
Their name is a beautiful reflection of their brand values, and their strong brand voice makes it so that after being exposed to this brand for a couple of minutes, you don’t just want to buy a starter pack of spices… you want to hit the town with them.
And this, to me, is the essence of branding… When a brand hits the right notes, you feel like they know you and you know them.
Example #2: Chubbies Shorts
Chubbies Shorts are a brand founded by four mates who loved short shorts.
Through college, they used to scour through thrift stores and their dads’ closets trying to find pairs they could boast about.
Then, realizing they couldn’t be the only ones with the same passion, they build a business around it and the Cubbies Shorts Brand was born.
The brands overall personality and tone of voice has been shaped by the brand’s mission statement
To treat our customers the way we treat our friends, to engage in the same way.
And that is exactly how to brand is expressed across all channels, from their messaging to the tone of voice they lead with.
It really feels like a brand run by 4 friends mucking about… And that’s exactly how they want it to feel. It’s quirky, engaging, and compelling for the right crowd.
Their tone of voice is friendly, funny and absolutely in-formal. As casual a brand as you’ll find anywhere.
Recently they dropped a 30% off discount with the caption:
Why? Because none of us went to business school
If you’re building a brand for an audience that appreciates an informal tone, Chubbies Shorts is a brand you can learn a lot from.
Example #3: Chipotle
Chipotle is a Mexican Fast Food Restaurant with a difference.
I’ve referenced this brand a few times throughout this channel and one of the main reasons I’ve done so is because of how they use their tone of voice.
Yes they carved out a unique position by disrupting the low-quality, low-price Mexican Fast-Food market, with freshly-sourced produce, but it’s not just their position that sets them apart.
Chipotle has attitude… Bags of it.
Their tone of voice uses witty, tongue-in-cheek humour to engage their target audience and spark a conversation, through fun memes and tweets like this one.
Example #4: Sprouts Farmers Markets
Sprouts Farmers Markets is an organic grocer that believes in the “delight of fresh, healthy foods and good-for-you supplements”.
Essentially, they represent everything you love about a farmers market, in a grocery store.
Their website, illustrations and handwritten font across their headlines, speak to an untouched rustic simple life and their love for natural food.
Their Instagram page is a mouth-watering wall of goodness, and their tone of voice is just as comforting.
They celebrate food with comforting words such as “goodness” “hearty” and “crunchy” in a warm tone you’d expect to find at friendly market stall.
Example #5: Shiseido
The brand was founded as Japan’s first western-style pharmacy in 1872, and to round that up, it makes it a 150-year-old brand.
Since 1987, when Siseido first stepped into the world of cosmetics, they’ve been on the cutting edge of the industry. They celebrate Japanese Beauty and the timeless tradition of skincare routines powered by cutting-edge science.
And this contrast of cutting-edge science and tradition gives the brand a unique personality and voice that gently whispers wisdom and elegance.
Their tone of voice is a mix between a wise Japanese grandmother passing on hundreds of years of tradition and experience, and a Japanese scientist affirming her wisdom.
They educate their customers on age-old techniques handed down through generations, and then they arm them with ground-breaking science-backed serums — infusions to achieve youthful luminance.
This is a brand that infuses the old and the new and oozes beauty and confidence as they do it.
Example #6: Diesel
Instead, Diesel’s brand identity is rebellious. Now following on from Shiseido and you get to see a real contrast in brand voices and tones.
While Shiseido is all about tradition, elegance and clean beauty, Diesel is a brand that would be inclined to give all of that the middle finger.
Not because Diesel has no tradition or doesn’t appreciate beauty, but because, unlike the persona of the Shiseido brand, it doesn’t give a sh*t about what other people think.
Diesel is Italian. But they’ve resisted the urge to follow trends or try to set them like so many other Italian fashion brands.
Diesel is a rebel brand. They don’t promote following trends. Instead, they celebrate doing whatever you want and going against the grain of society and the confines that come with it.
Diesel’s brand style is bold and daring, encouraging their followers to:
If you were thinking of doing something you shouldn’t, Diesel would be the daring voice saying “Do It”.
Example #7: Tiffany & Co.
Tiffany & Co is another brand with some serious heritage behind it.
Every story has a beginning and Tiffany’s began in 1837. They quickly grew into a global design house at the forefront of innovative jewelry design and expert craftsmanship.
Tiffany’s is the undisputed King Of Diamonds and 99.9% of the world’s diamonds simply don’t make the cut.
Although the brand had already achieved Iconic status by 1961, Audrey Hepburn helped to forge the brand name into culture with the Hollywood classic Breakfast at Tiffany’s.
They’ve got a year-by-year timeline of historical events on their website which gives you a real taste of the past if you want to dive deeper.
Tiffany’s has been instrumental in aligning diamonds with love and the celebration of engagement, and their brand language and tone of voice are nothing if not exclusively “Wonderful,” “Dazzling,” and “Magic.”
How To Create Your Brand Tone Of Voice (Process Template)
Creating your brand’s tone of voice is not about cherry-picking attributes that represent who the founder is.
There’s a method to the madness and these processes lay down that method.
Step 1: Define Your Target Market
Defining your target market is one of the most fundamental steps in building a brand because, quite simply, every branding decision is made with the aim of appealing to who that audience is.
If you want to make a success of your brand, it’s critical to understand as much as you can about your audience and what appeals to them.
The more specific you get with this, the more detail you have to shape your brand’s voice.
So don’t just stop with the overall market. Slice and dice it and define the segments you want to target most.
Step 2: Uncover Their Personality
As I’ve mentioned, every person is different. Across any brand and its offerings, you’ll find all types of different people with different passions, hobbies, values and personalities who want what they have.
Audience research is about identifying commonalities which then become tools to first resonate and then influence your audience.
When you define the personality characteristics that cross over your target market, you begin to see the hooks that your brand can use to connect.
Step 3: Identify Attributes They Seek
Although your target market might like to unwind with a drink on the weekend or have fun with their family and friends, that doesn’t mean you can use those commonalities to resonate with them.
When connecting a brand with a group of people, context is critical.
Insights are great, but if you’re a small business offering legal advice, then a fun-loving tone of voice is not going to help your cause. Instead, you want to be empowering and reflect your company’s mission.
The space you’re playing in and the desired outcome of your audience are critical considerations when determining the brand voice that will appeal.
So step into their shoes, feel their frustrations or desires and find the right tone that they seek from a helping hand.
Step 4: Create A Brand Persona
At the most basic level, branding is the discipline of making a business the most appealing choice to a group of people.
Although there are many who associate branding with visuals, there are far many more ways to connect with your audience than visually.
To become an effective brand strategist, you must approach the development of your brand as if it were a living breathing person.
If you met a person who was dressed in a way or a style that aligned with the style you appreciate or are attracted to, then you’d be more likely to be drawn to that person than others, right? The same can be said about your visual identity.
But just because they look like you might get along with them, it’s not until you actually have a conversation and spend some time with them, do you actually get a feel for whether they’re your type of person or not.
Brand personas help to bring your brand to life beyond the visuals, and brands that are built with human considerations feel more tangible and have more points of interest for audiences to resonate with.
In other words, your brand voice matters just as much as, if not more than, your brand visuals.
Step 5: Craft Your Tone Of Voice
Once you know exactly who you’re targeting, what they’re looking for and how your brand will show up in the market, you have everything you need to develop the brand’s tone of voice.
The attributes you define in the personality of your brand persona provide direction for the tone of voice that will help to communicate that personality in marketing materials and beyond.
Will your tone of voice be playful or serious, progressive or traditional, aggressive or laid-back?
The personality of your brand wraps your message up in a way that invites your audience in, while your tone of voice is the mood you set to deliver your message.
So reflect on who your audience is, the traits they share, the characteristics they seek, how you want to show up and then, define the tone that will set the mood for how your message is delivered.
Over To You
As I mentioned in the opening, the importance of the brand voice only comes into light once you have some important boxes ticked as both a business and a brand.
But don’t let that undermine its importance.
Businesses and brands that overlook the fundamentals aren’t in the game, to begin with.
For businesses that do end up at the table competing for customers, often, it’s the slight nuances in how the messages are delivered that make the difference between one buying decision and another.
Your brand voice is one of those slight nuances. Use it strategically, and it can make the difference between “brand of choice” or “brand forgotten.”
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