Like people, brands have voices. Sometimes those voices can be serious, sometimes cheeky. Regardless of tone, all brand voices should have one thing in common: consistency.
Good brands have a singular voice. Within that, they need flexibility, in the same way a person might speak differently in their work environment than in conversation at the pub on a Friday night. Same person, same voice, but they have the ability to dial up and down different elements of their personality.
When it comes to establishing a flexible brand voice, personality traits are key. At XXVI, we work with three different personality traits and use them in different ratios according to the message the brand is trying to convey, the audience it’s speaking to and the platform we’re speaking on.
The development of personality traits is vital, and there needs to be at least one for the good, bad and ugly times of life in business. You have days where you're delivering a sales message that's positive but you also have days where there’s bad news to be communicated. You still want to be able to respond in your voice, it's just a different version of you at that time.
For example, a dairy producer with a cheeky voice in positive marketing communications will need to tone that down if they’re faced with an issue around quality of product. That said, they should never forget who they are – be sensible but still be real.
Various platforms raise challenges for some brands in how they communicate consistently. On social media, there’s a built-in requirement to be more ‘real’. That means speaking a little less formally than you might in an annual report.
For some brands, the digital voice may not need to flex at all to suit social media. If you're a relaxed, fun-loving retail brand with a youth focus, staff can easily speak in a casual way that aligns with a digital environment.
If you want to see a master of brand language at work, look no further than Apple. Whether you interact with the brand through an Apple device, on iTunes or in-store, you get the same voice that has been honed to match the way it is delivered.
That element of consistency is really important. Yes, you need to be aware of the platform but there’s no need to reinvent the language for each different place you want to communicate.
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