It’s challenging to find your company’s brand voice. But it can be even more challenging to try and change it down the road. You messaging is expected to evolve as a living part of your business, but it’s important that you have a solid foundation and brand voice from which it can grow. Changing that foundation because you didn’t get it right the first time around can be extremely confusing to customers.
Your brand voice is a lot deeper than just a solid tagline and product messaging. It permeates so many aspects of your business from website messaging to customer interactions to external PR communications and more. It becomes the personality of your company, which can be incredibly important and influential to your customer base as well as employees, investors, partners, etc. Basically, your voice, and subsequently your messaging, impacts marketing, sales, prospecting, recruitment, fundraising… just about your entire business.
You can begin to identify and finalize your brand voice by asking important questions of your business and holding workshops to get key stakeholders involved in determining what characteristics need to be pulled through the messaging:
WHAT IS YOUR PURPOSE? You should know this in your sleep. It is the backbone of why you created your business in the first place. The answer to this question is typically used to create a mission statement. It is high-level and serves a big purpose, without getting into the technical details and nitty gritty of the “how” behind your product. It speaks to a larger problem and the reasons why you are the right company to solve it.
WHO ARE YOU HELPING? You know what makes up your customer segment – typically broken down by demographics, titles, geography, etc. You also need to know who they are – personality traits, pet peeves, limitations, purchase triggers, and more. Know as much as you can about your customer so that you can think like them. This is so important when creating your messaging. You need to get out of your own head and into your customers’ to truly create the brand voice that will speak to them.
WHAT ARE YOUR VALUES? You and your cofounders should create a list of values that guide your decisions and actions, and also provide a framework of expectations for those that you work with – employees, customers, partners, etc. These values might seem simple or obvious to your team, but laying out your principles is a really easy way for constituents to know how you operate and what you expect from others. It also promotes a culture of transparency that your constituents will appreciate from the get-go. Check out our values here to see an example.
WHAT IS YOUR STORY? Your founding story is an interesting way to share more about yourself. How did you come up with the idea for your business? Is there a personal connection? How did you find your co-founders? What challenges did you encounter in the beginning? How did you overcome them? What did you learn? These are all questions that build your company story. Compile them into a quick, catchy and interesting narrative that people will want to read to learn more about your history and how it is impacting both the present and your future.
WHAT ARE YOUR COMPETITORS SAYING? You might think your solution is the best on the market, but there are other players out there and you want to make sure you differentiate your messaging and voice from theirs to stand out and capture prospects & customers. Create a document with all of the different language from your competitors – tagline, boilerplate, product descriptions, etc. Seeing all of the different voices and messaging nuances in one place will help you form opinions and make decisions about where you see similarities and differences, as well as what language choices you want to make for your own company, and which ones to avoid.
WHY ARE YOU UNIQUE? Arguably the most important aspect of your messaging and only improved by a strong brand voice, you’ll want to perfect why you’re unique during brand discovery sessions. And, you’ve likely done a ton of research about the market and how your technology or service is different from what is already out there. Write it all out so you can begin to piece together your benefits and differentiators into aspects of your messaging.
WHAT ARE YOUR CUSTOMERS SAYING? Another incredibly important activity to conduct prior to creating your brand messaging & voice – active customer listening. Most businesses have early, loyal customers that believe in the product and its potential to solve their current challenge. Talk to them as much as you can to hear what they like, what they dislike, and what they want from you in the future. You might not listen to all of it, but having a wealth of targeted market research will directly impact the direction of your brand.
Once you have answers to these questions, have key stakeholders in your company pull together different drafts of messaging as told in your decided upon voice, including descriptions, boilerplates, a sample product website page, etc. After you have a few versions of this copy, appoint a leader to go through and pull out consistencies, discrepancies, and points for conversation. Then discuss as a team, ultimately determining what parts you want to toss, and which ones you want to keep and build upon.
Check in next week for part two of this post, where we will talk about brand voice & messaging best practices.
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