The best brands connect with consumers and build long-term relationships through carefully crafted and controlled messaging. A logo alone is not enough. You see—once a small business has a strong logo, it’s important to bring the brand to life by developing a brand voice. No matter how small the business, putting a face behind the brand and building a brand voice is key to driving the conversation, building relationships and standing out from the crowd.
Even more, a clear brand voice transforms a brand from just a product or service into a personality that’s consistent with the business’s values, target audiences and advertising goals. A brand voice can be used to inform all messaging choices a small business brand must make, from brochures and print advertisements to website content and social media interactions.
Why Is a Brand Voice Important for Small Business?
A brand voice tells consumers not just what a company does, but also who makes it all possible. The brand voice is about the people behind the brand—the things that drive them, the goals they aspire to accomplish, and the ways they hope to serve their community. Perhaps more importantly, speaking in a consistent brand voice enables a company to build trust with its customers across all touchpoints, and establish lasting relationships.
Developing a Small Business Brand Voice
The brand voice, when outlined and enforced across each business department, provides guidance for messaging and content published across all marketing mediums, from print ads and direct mail to brochures, websites, social media profiles, email and more. Establishing these guidelines ensures that no matter the marketing channel, the messaging will reflect the new brand, and the brand personality will be consistent across all channels.
So, where does a small business start when building its brand voice guidelines? It’s not something that can be created on a whim, nor is it something that can be developed entirely based on a trend. A brand voice is an expression of a company’s values and its way of thinking, so it must grow out of what a business genuinely believes in and stands for.
Identifying Your Audiences
First and foremost, a small business should work to identify its two to four main audience groups. These could be Current Customers, Prospective Customers and Info Seekers. From there, build archetypes, where each audience segment is described in detail. This could include preferred communication mediums, demographics, job title and more.
Plus, it’s important to highlight how often each group will be targeted, and tie it back into business goals. For example, if the business wishes to increase its current yield, 80 percent of content could be geared toward Current Customers, while 20 percent is directed at Prospective Customers and Info Seekers.
Identifying Your Brand’s Persona
Next, a business needs to identify its brand’s persona. Is the personality described as an educated woman who has a professional, friendly tone? Is the personality that of a middle-aged businessman who has a well-developed understanding of the interests and concerns of his community?
Businesses must consider the target audience—their preferences, their behavior, and to whom they respond best—and create a personality that speaks to them, while maintaining the brand’s values and objectives. Then, identify five to seven adjectives to describe that persona. As an example, the educated woman mentioned above could be depicted as authoritative, trustworthy, supportive, approachable and pleasant.
Next, a business must establish language guidelines that should be adhered to across all channels. After all, it’s not just what you say; it’s how you say it. Language guidelines can include things like:
– Keep it Simple: Relatable, easily digestible language should be used whenever possible. Technical jargon, if used, should be well explained.
– Check the Facts: Any and all advice should be well researched and current. Include authoritative citations when possible, to reinforce trustworthiness. Facts should not violate any of the basic principles articulated by the brand.
Now that audiences have been identified, a persona has been built and language guidelines have been established, a business needs to determine what its audiences are most interested in reading and learning about. From in-depth articles to fun checklists to engaging blog posts, brands should highlight the key content buckets that will attract the sought-after audience base. Content categories might include tips and tricks, fan reviews and testimonials, seasonal content, and more.
Ultimately, brands should be like people—each having a unique voice that sets it apart and enables customers to establish a strong, trustworthy connection with the business. So, take your brand, give it a human face and keep it consistent. Customers who visit your website, chat with a representative, or visit your social media pages all should have the same experience. It’s up to you to decide just how meaningful that experience will be.