How you speak and what you say is central to any communication strategy. Organizations aware of this pay extra attention to their voice and tone when communicating externally. But, what about when connecting with your internal audience?
Too often, organizations aren’t as vigilant when it comes to their internal brand and voice.
But that’s a problem.
Brand voice goes way beyond the external. True brand identity starts from the inside and is crucial to strengthening the overall brand of your organization.
Your staff takes center stage when it comes to communicating your brand so, to ensure overwhelming success, your company must create a brand voice that speaks to and for every one of your employees.
Brand voice should be birthed from a series of internal strategies that embody your organization’s mission. This voice should influence all levels of communication, from internal manuals and value statements all the way to external material.
The goal is to provide employees with the tools they need to embody your brand, and defining your brand voice is the best approach.
Why you need a brand voice
Every business needs a strong brand voice from inception. A concrete brand voice is the engine that keeps your organization’s mission moving forward. It helps ensure positive customer experiences, encourages employees to adopt company values and creates brand ambassadors who not only know company culture but breathe it. Voice should be present in all areas of the company including blogs, company memos, and even business cards.
When internal branding is overlooked, the company as a whole is compromised. If you aren’t cautious, you may end up with content full of inconsistent voices, tones, and language and lose any prospect of delivering an accurate representation of your brand.
How can you expect your employees to know who you are if you do not? The process of defining brand identity and voice is a journey that will ultimately cement the positioning of your organization and create valuable brand ambassadors out your employees.
Your brand voice must:
- Be 100% clear: Know who you are. Know who your target audience is. How do you want them to see you? Your brand voice should be unique and specific to your goals and values.
- Embody the company values: Finding the right voice for your brand goes beyond what just sounds good. Like the human voice, brand voice carries within it a variety of emotions that fluctuate depending on the context or scenario. Your voice should fit every situation and, no matter the circumstances, it should always embody your brand values.
- Be consistent: If one isn’t careful, there can be a divide between messaging and tone. Perfect the way your brand voice is expressed across different components or your desired brand voice will be lost.
- Leave the right impression: Your organization must know how they want their brand voice to affect their audience and in turn must adapt that voice accordingly to demonstrate the true message behind your brand.
Brand voices will vary according to many factors, including tone, personality, company mission, and target audience. Finding the perfect voice to represent your brand requires some effort, but here are a few tips to keep in mind when taking the plunge:
Define your brand values
If your goal is to create a brand identity that speaks to your audience, then the first step is to determine exactly what is you stand for and what values you want to share. When brainstorming, it is helpful to think of your brand as an individual with a particular thought process & diction and their own set of values, attitudes, and behaviors.
The most successful organizations have a firm idea of who they are; they know precisely who they are targeting with their communications and also how they want their brand to be perceived by these individuals.
Taking the time to think about and write down exactly how and what you want to communicate as a business and brand will be largely beneficial to the process and will provide a tremendous amount of clarity in choosing the right kind of brand voice.
Do not forget, simply saying what you do won’t be enough for your brand, especially in this highly competitive business world.
Whether you see yourself as an organization that wants to push the boundaries of productivity, one that focuses on employees and strives for their professional development, or both, defining these values will help determine exactly what kind of voice will best convey your message.
If you get stuck, ask yourself: what makes your company unique? What’s the story behind your growth? What is your organization passionate about? These questions should provide a foundation for you to build and later expand upon.
Start with your audience
Now that you know who you are, it’s time to find out who your audience is. Your brand voice exists in both your external and internal culture, and as such, much leave a positive impression on anyone who experiences it.
The ultimate goal behind your brand’s voice should be not only providing a genuine expression of your company’s mission and values but also giving readers to tools and inspiration to embody and share your ideals.
The best way to go about defining your audience is to create personas. While personas may be a semi-fictional representation of the people you are attempting to communicate with, drafting up an outline of your targets will basically serve as a much-needed instruction manual to understanding your audience.
These personas are a visualization based on the likes, dislikes, desires and motivations of your real-life workforce and consider their roles, challenges and preferences. With this, you can understand the needs and behaviors of your audience and create a sound strategy for sharing your message.
Our blog, “Who are you targeting? The role of personas in internal communications” gives you a more in-depth look into the process of introducing personas in your IC plan.
Ultimately, no matter who your audience is, you should always ensure that you’re clearly communicating who your brand is in every message that you deliver.
Create a style guide
This is where your design capabilities come into play. Much like the legendary Frankenstein, you are putting together different element, creating the perfect mashup up of tone, language, fonts and more to emerge with the perfect brand voice for your company needs. Hopefully, if all goes well, you’re left with a masterpiece and not a monster at the end.
When creating your brand style, you want it to convey the voice your brand will be speaking in. This means the tone, language used, and chosen font should all be a visual manifestation of your brand’s voice and personality.
Do not neglect the visual design in this process; it is essential, especially when you connect the words said with things like the font. Every little detail is part of a bigger piece.
For example, When selecting a font for your internal brand, you must make sure it is in sync with your defined values and personality and take into consideration the vibe it gives off to the audience. Do you want a serious tone, like the one from times new roman or, would you rather something lighter, like comic sans?
It all needs to fit together perfectly. Consider your tone. How would you describe it? Passionate? Quirky? Educational? Knowing the answer to this question will eventually determine to the type of language your brand voice should use. They should all be connected.
Words are the grit of any content, but if the delivery doesn’t match the message, your brand voice loses its authenticity and credibility.
A clear and concise style guide will allow content creators to engage across all channels in a way that positively represents your brand. This gains importance as you ultimately expand your team and have others communicating on behalf of you and your organization.
Brief your content creators
Creating consistent content continues to be a difficult task with 50 percent of B2B and 44 percent of B2C content marketers saying they struggle. Because of this difficulty, turning to your staff to recruit contributors, content makers, and internal influencers is often used as a viable and valuable strategy.
But with the reputation of your company’s brand and message at stake, it is imperative that these content creators learn, understand, and match your brand voice.
This can be determined in during the hiring process or later on as they learn more about the company. For either situation, providing them with your style guide and a breakdown of your brand values will act as an appropriate starter kit for creating the right content.
Because the communications these individuals create will be attributed to your brand, a high level of collaboration and caution is required.
Different voices can create a divide in messaging and tone if all the different points of brand interaction are not cohesive. To prevent this, assign someone to be reasonable for ensuring consistency in the brand voice.
Get everyone on board with your guide and give them some examples of what your brand’s voice should look like. This doesn’t just go for memos and corporate copy. Everything they write reflects on your brand so be sure to have things like social shares and comments follow the guidelines as well.
Brand voice long-term
Your brand voice has the potential to be your most valuable asset, but only if developed properly. You may feel like the job is done once your brand voice is established, but are just beginning.
The tips above explain how to create your brand voice but what about sustaining it?
This is not meant to be a set-it-and-forget-it tool for your organization. When it comes to your brand voice, maintenance is vital. Preserving and advancing your brand voice comes from a combination of monitoring engagement, collecting data and revisiting your company message to address any issues or changes.
The effort you put into this process will be worth it; a strong internal brand is the foundation for building productive employees, inspiring successful external efforts, and bringing your company brand values to life.