Finding Your Brand VoiceFinding Your Brand's Tone of Voice

By Michelle Etherton, The Partner Marketing Group

A few years ago I worked with a Microsoft ISV that is still one of my favorite projects. Why? Because it was FUN! The leader of the company is snarky, silly and smart. With a personality that is both engaging and quirky (in a good way)—it is also the company’s brand and definitely sets them apart. In fact, some of you might know who I’m talking about without even saying the name. This company knows—and owns—their tone of voice.

Finding your brand’s tone of voice can be a huge differentiator, especially in the technology industry.

Your brand is more than a neat logo and catchy slogan, complete with fancy guidelines for colors and fonts and what not. Sure those things visually represent your brand, but how do you verbally represent your brand?

Your tone of voice is not about what you do, but the manner in which you do it.

Ann Handley, Chief Content Officer of MarketingProfs, just wrote a great article on this called How to find your brand’s tone of voice (Your biggest untapped marketing asset). I instantly thought of our software and technology reseller clients because I think they are particularly challenged by this. They want to be different in some way to stand out, and yet are often afraid to be too different. If you’re having too much fun, won’t customers think you aren’t smart or professional enough? If you’re too technical and boring, you’re not being personable or approachable enough.

Finding Brand Voice:

1. Be authentic.

Above all else, be who you really are every day. If you try to be someone or something else, we will eventually see right through it anyway. You will never please all of the people all of the time so don’t try to. I mean we’ve all seen even the big guys sometimes fail miserably at this. Define your primary target audiences. Read those customer testimonials. Ask your employees for their input. What 3 words consistently come up.

2. Stay flexible.

This is not one of those things that needs to be signed in blood stating that every employee must be 1. Attentive, 2. Understanding, and 3. Knowledgeable in everything they do. That’s not what this is about and it certainly wouldn’t be very #2 of you. In fact, different audiences, channels and scenarios could very well demand different tones and that is perfectly okay. Find your core personality and adapt as needed. The most important thing is that employees understand how to best represent your brand to anyone, at any time, in any situation.

3. Lighten up.

This can sometimes be hard for an industry so accustomed to throwing around words like leverage and functionality and integration in daily conversation. If you are projecting a tone of voice that’s too technical and stiff (i.e., too much industry jargon), maybe this is your opportunity to relax a little. Even though you might sell business-to-business, don’t lose sight of the fact you are talking with real people. Simplify.

Your brand’s tone of voice is part of the company’s personality, and the journey to find whatever that is can be a very positive—and eye opening—exercise for everyone involved. You might learn more than you ever imagined.

If you need some help energizing your marketing with your new and improved personality, or finding your tone of voice in the first place, please get in touch. It’s what we do best.

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