Finding Your Brand Voice
Let’s imagine for a moment that you have recently come across an entirely new and innovative product that will be marketed to a target audience. There are naturally many variables that you will have to take into account. A handful of these includes knowing your demographic, employing the right advertising channels, appreciating the power of search engine optimisation (SEO) and keeping existing clients loyal. Unfortunately, there are far too many firms which fail to address another very important metric known as their brand identity. In order to understand the nuts and bolts behind brand marketing, let us take a closer look at its relationship to the perception of the company in question.
Brand Strategy 101: What You Need to Know
We first need to appreciate brand strategy from a generalised point of view. This is defined as the long-term plan to promote a business in order to achieve specific goals (such as revenue generation or expansion into a specific demographic). It is important that we do not confuse this concept with other terms. A brand is not a logo, a company name or a website. It rather represents something less tangible; something that resonates with the customer in question. It is actually much more psychological in nature and tends to revolve around knowing how to speak with an audience.
This is the main reason why such a concept is often referred to as a “brand voice”. The key takeaway point here is that developing this voice is much like establishing a rapport between two individuals. The essentials of brand management involve cultivating this relationship through clear and concise steps that will be used in conjunction with one another. Now that we have defined brand strategy with broad strokes, let’s take a look at some of the finer points which will help to point you in the right direction.
Know Your Purpose
“Definiteness of purpose is the starting point of all achievement.”
– W. Clement Stone
This quotation is extremely relevant within the world of brand management. There are generally two main reasons why a business is established:
- Commercial success such as revenue generation.
- Long-term goals including keeping clients loyal and improving their lives.
These concepts are abstract and yet, they will impact the voice of the brand as it develops. In times increasingly defined by a wary consumer base, many would-be clients will gravitate towards a business that is based on long-term achievements as opposed to one-off profits.
Do you find that you constantly tune into the same newscaster every evening or that you take the same route home from work? These are two examples of the role that consistency plays in regards to creating a brand. A cohesive mission statement and approach will breed loyalty and familiarity over time. Major brands such as Coca-Cola and Ikea have learned to embrace this concept. Whether referring to the same colour scheme or tone of voice, the fact of the matter is that a consistent brand strategy will keep clients interested and coming back for more.
You may be wondering how it is possible to embrace flexibility while remaining consistent. This requires walking a rather fine line. The most successful brands are flexible enough to change with the needs of their audience while still maintaining the brand voice that separates them from other competitors. Think of this as a more targeted form of rebranding. A prime example can be seen with Pabst Blue Ribbon beer. For years, this brand was associated with college students who were on a tight budget. However, the company decided to slightly modify its taste to break into the Chinese marketplace. While still popular throughout the United States, it now sells for no less than $44 dollars in some Asian countries. So, it is clear to see that a little flexibility can go a long way.
We all like to feel part of a greater whole. Whether referring to a relationship with work colleagues or a close-knit group of friends, this has been a well-known fact for centuries. This is the very same reason why generating empathy through your brand voice is another successful strategy. It is important to connect with customers on a level that is far deeper than a retail relationship alone. How can this be accomplished? A handful of successful methods can include (but are not limited to):
- Creating a brand identity that solves a specific problem.
- Using the first-person voice within advertisements.
- Addressing clients by their names as opposed to “to whom it may concern”.
- Allowing customers to feel as if they are a part of the team.
By using these techniques, it will be possible to develop a more interpersonal relationship with the audience in question.
Getting the Employees Involved
Let us assume that all of these concepts are clear. They will be of little use if other employees do not embrace their attributes. If your brand voice is eager and enthusiastic, of what use is a sullen and curt phone representative? Never forget that employees are just as important in regards to brand marketing as is the outward appearance of the company. They should be trained accordingly so that clients can expect an experience which reflects the values of the firm.
Knowing the Needs of Your Audience
Up until this point, we have focused on internal brand management strategies. It is just as important to recall that the needs of the customer must be taken into account. This is where client engagement and digital interaction can make a massive difference. Social media channels, blog posts and personalised emails can all help to interpret if a specific brand identity is producing results. These analytics are critical, as it is much easier to ask “how are we doing?” as opposed to “how did we do?”. To put this another way, real-time adjustments are crucial to keep a demographic interested in the company as well as the product.
Remember to Say Thank You
Gratitude is a final component that should be present within any brand voice. This can be expressed in a number of different ways. It could represent discounts on specific products, a personalised gift card or a simple “thank you” for being loyal. This approach will help to cement the other suggestions that we have mentioned above. Considering the sheer amount of competition that currently exists, a bit of gratitude will help to separate your firm from the generic masses.
Putting it All Together
We can now see that there are a number of facets involved when creating a brand. It is best to use these in conjunction with one another as opposed to merely stand-alone suggestions. It will likewise take a bit of time to see measurable results and of course, the term “one size fits all” certainly has no place within such a changeable environment. With the right approach and by appreciating how your brand is being perceived, you will be able to develop the insight and clarity needed to make a truly lasting (and rewarding) impression.