How To Find Your Brand Voice (and stay consistent with it)
Branding is like an onion. You think you’ve got it after you’ve nailed down your logo and stopped switching color schemes (for now), only to peel back another layer and find out you need consistency in how you show up on social media, the kind of graphics you use, how you serve your clients/customers/students, and many many more layers.
If you’ve landed on this blog post, it’s because you’ve peeled back the layer to brand voice.
Welcome, my friend.
Pst! This post contains affiliate links! That means I get a commission from any purchases you make (at no extra cost to you). I’ll only recommend dope stuff that i’ve tested and truly find valuable. Scouts honor.
Now if you’re metaphorically crying from peeling back all these layers, feel free to take a deep breathe and relax, because a brand voice doesn’t need to be as complicated as it’s sometimes made out to be.
I’d even argue that it’s the most fun part of branding.
So, what is a brand voice?
Quite simply, it’s how you talk to people.
I swear. That’s it.
The pitfall people get into when they’re looking for their brand voice is they over think the ever living hell out of it when all you have to do is decide how you (business wise) want to communicate with people.
And more often than not, it ends up being represented by a facet of your own personality. To make it easy, I just think of a brand voice as a personality because you’ll naturally speak in accordance with that.
So everything from the copy you write, to your language on videos, and the Instagram captions you write will be represented by that personality.
If you identify your brand as a no BS, sassy kinda personality, your language will probably be a no-filter, straight forward conversationalist. If you identify your brand as a softer, spiritual kind of personality, your language will reflect that.
Now note, I said a facet (as in one-side) of your personality earlier. Because it’s human nature to show up differently for different people at different times, and you want to do that in your business.
Some people will insist “I’m the same person I’ve always been whether I’m with my family or with my coaching group!”
Of course, you are, but which part of the whole person shows up is different. I’d bet money on it. It’s how our brains are wired.
If you don’t believe me, look up theorist Jean Piaget and his studies on schema (I’m about to put my sociology degree to work here people! Finally...).
Basically, our brain takes note of our different traits, assesses the situation we’re in and who we’re with, and then decides which of those traits best serves us in that situation. All those traits are still there, just filed away and pulled from at different times.
Now when it comes to your brand, you have to decide on which traits you want to bring to your business but also which traits best serve your audience and attract the people you want to work with.
So for example, I’m quite the sailor around my friends. Like F-bombs everywhere. When I worked in my PreK classroom, obviously I censored myself and it was automatic. I never had to consciously think “you can’t say that here!”. It just switched.
Using the word mother F’er around a ton of 5-year-olds is obviously not serving them best. It doesn’t mean I’m being fake or phony, I’m just adjusting for my situation. The same goes for business.
Although you might be a natural introvert and sit in the background if you’re the host of a group coaching program, you’re gonna tell the introverted you to beat it for an hour or two while the fearless leader who doesn’t let her clients lean on their excuses shows up.
That’s probably going to be the “voice” you use when you write your blog posts or when you’re a guest speaker on someone's podcasts. Then afterward you’ll retreat back to your sheets, put your phone on “do not disturb” and refuse to leave until you finish all 4 seasons of your favorite show.
So how do you find your brand voice and stay consistent with it?
Step One: decide on your brand's personality.
Step Two: show up using that personality.
Step Three: your “voice” will follow.
The key to staying consistent is just making sure you’re not suddenly switching personalities like James McAvoy in Split (that’s a movie reference people.).
For example: if you start hearing Gary Vee hop on a video and start using words like “heart-centered”, “chakra’s”, and “inner glow”, you’ll probably raise an eyebrow.
If Marie Forleo doesn’t crack a joke in one of her videos and is all doom and gloom, you’ll probably raise an eyebrow.
If Opera doesn’t give something away, then you’ll start wondering what the hell is going on. (Okay, maybe that one was a stretch but you know what I mean.)
Now there are a few “formal” things you can do to help you stay consistent with your brand voice. It also comes in handy if you choose to outsource something like social media content, copywriting, and content creation.
Your best bet is to make a brand dictionary which will include things like:
notes of your catchphrases
your commonly used sign off’s and introductions
your core values
who you serve
and how you want your business to be viewed
Write that down and stick it in a Trello board. Whenever you’re feeling “off” or want to give someone else an idea of how your brand should be represented and “sound”, you can use that as a guideline.
“Okay, I get it. But I’m still struggling to find a personality that fits. Nothing feels right.”
If that’s what you’re thinking, good news. I have a course coming soon where I go through step-by detailed step, on finding your brand voice so you can start writing copy that reflects your business authentically and attracts the right people for you.
In the meantime, however, here are some resources to help.
You can take this quiz to give you an idea of your brand's personality. At the end, it will give you some helpful phrases and vocabulary associated with that personality.
If it’s a mindset issue and you feel like you just can’t step into the personality you want to tap into for your business (but know is there), I strongly suggest you read The Alter Ego Effect by Todd Herman.
Or you might be struggling if you don’t know who you’re actually serving. Take a peek at this blog post here.
Now go forth and show the world your stuff!