Four facets of a brilliant brand voice

The four facets that help you find your authentic brand voice, and use it to elevate your comms and enhance your user experience.

Image for post
Image for post

What you’re aiming for

Stop for a second and think of a brand with a memorable voice. Maybe you thought of Ikea, Volkswagen, Innocent, or maybe Slack or MailChimp.

A Venn diagram of authentic, differentiated, appropriate and readable, with brilliant in the overlap of all four.
A Venn diagram of authentic, differentiated, appropriate and readable, with brilliant in the overlap of all four.
  1. Reflective: your voice needs to reflect your audience, the relationship they have with your brand, and what they want or need. This comes down to being appropriate to the user and situation.
  2. Differentiated: your voice should be distinctive (from your competitors in particular). It should help you stand out, rather than just melt into the crowd.
  3. Readable: anyone can read and understand it.

The four facets

So how do you develop a voice that’s authentic, reflective and differentiated? By focusing on getting a clear understanding of the four factors that make up your voice:

  1. Tone: the feelings or moods conveyed.
  2. Rhythm: the pace and pattern.
  3. Vocabulary: the words used.
The image shows four diamonds with the words personality, tone, rhythm and vocabulary in them.
The image shows four diamonds with the words personality, tone, rhythm and vocabulary in them.

Personality

Personality is about getting to the heart of the kind of organisation you are. Personality should draw on the values, mission or purpose, and translate them into matching characteristics. It’s the overall impression that people should take away when they read or hear your voice. Authenticity and differentiation in your voice comes from having a solid sense of your personality.

Tone

Tone is the feelings or moods that your voice can convey. To understand how tone works, imagine you’re a barista. Different customers might want an americano, a flat white, or a cappuccino; you’ll put the same coffee in everything, but you’ll change the amount of milk or water to make their specific order.

Rhythm

The pace and pattern of your voice. Rhythm isn’t the easiest part of a voice to define, but has an important role to play. It’s often what elevates good writing to great writing.

Vocabulary

This is straightforward — it’s the words you use. Your vocabulary might be simple or complex, narrow or wide, plain or specialist. You might need to shift your vocabulary with your tone, depending on your audience.

In conclusion

  • If you’re just giving your writers a list of six adjectives in the brand book, you’re missing a big opportunity to strengthen your brand, and improve your comms and user experience.
  • A great band voice should be differentiated and reflect your audience but, above all, it should be authentic.
  • To create your voice, make sure you think about the personality, tone, rhythm and vocabulary.
  • Personality is a constant, but tone shifts for different audiences and situations

I’m running training on how to develop a brilliant brand voice — see dates and find out more at lapope.com/events/

Written by

User-focused content strategist helping clients who make the world better, fairer, more beautiful. Founder of La Pope content consultancy and Curio Conference.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store