It’s the character you use as the front man to your operations—the person that makes your business feel like a tangible thing. And that’s why it’s a huge deal.
Your brand voice is the part of your brand that your avatars interact with the most. Social media content, paid ads, long-form content, emails, and products are the touchpoints you have with your avatars and customers. Every time your avatar runs into one of these touchpoints, they’re met with your brand voice.
These are the interactions that show who you are and why someone wants to get to know you better.
But creating a brand voice out of thin air is hard (don’t worry, you’re not the only one struggling). It’s the existential question brought into business—who are you?
We’re going to show you how to answer this question for your business by crafting the foundation of your brand voice making one decision and using 2 spectrums:
Decision: Personal or business
Spectrum: Friend to Mentor
Spectrum: Easy language to jargon
Personal to Business
The first step to figuring out your brand voice is deciding who is talking to your avatar. There are 2 options here:
An employee (a CEO, Marketing Director, social media manager, etc.)
The business itself
For example, at DigitalMarketer we send emails from our CEO Ryan Deiss. That means these emails are written in Ryan’s voice and signed by him. Check out the example below:
In our business, it works really well to have Ryan as the face of DigitalMarketer, but we understand this isn’t the case for everybody. And there are plentyyyy of success stories of businesses who aren’t a specific person.
For example, Canva isn’t sending emails from any of their 3 founders. They send emails from Canva:
In some cases, choosing to use an employee’s voice or the voice of the business might not be a big deal (like in our case). In others, it might make much more sense to focus on the business’s voice.
Does your customer avatar want to hear from a person or a business?
Friend to Mentor
Where does your business’s personality lie on the friend-to-mentor spectrum?
Finding the answer to this question requires you to know who your customer avatar is… who do they want you to be? Are they looking for a fun friend or a mature mentor?
For example, at DigitalMarketer we aim to be the friend. We’re not speaking like Neil deGrasse Tyson would if he were to change career paths into digital marketing. We like to talk to our readers and customers like they’re friends we’re meeting out for coffee or bumping into at a marketing conference.
Here’s an example of our brand voice in an email to subscribers:
This works really well for our audience of marketers who are learning more about the marketing world but don’t want to feel like they’re back in a college lecture.
But, for other businesses, the mentorship brand voice works a lot better. For example, Tony Robbins isn’t going to try to become your “Let’s get drinks after work” buddy. He’s going to tell you to get in that ice bath, jump on a trampoline, and get your energy UP because this is your life and you better do something with it.
His avatar of the average person who wants to take their life to the next level wants mentorship and somebody who is going to guide them through inspiration and motivation. The mentorship brand voice works perfectly for Tony’s avatar.
If you’re feeling like your avatars don’t necessarily want a friend or a mentor, that’s why this a spectrum. Every business isn’t either a friend or mentor, there’s an area in between for businesses that are friends but mentors or mentors but friends.
Where does your business lie on the friend-to-mentor spectrum?
Easy Language to Jargon
Now that you know who is talking to your avatar (a person or your business) and where your brand voice lies on the friend-to-mentor spectrum, it’s time to start filling in what words you’ll talk to your avatar with.
This is the easy-language-to-jargon spectrum, where you’re either using language that anybody can understand (even if they’re not familiar with your industry) or you’ll be using niche jargon so only those that are well-versed in the industry know what you’re talking about.
Again, we have to go back to your customer avatar. Who are they and want language does it make the most sense to talk to them in?
For example, Bulletproof sells food and supplements for people looking to improve their health and lifestyles. Their founder Dave Asprey is well-versed in biohacking jargon—but you don’t see a word of jargon in the emails to their subscribers.
Why? Because their customer avatar isn’t an expert in the health space; they’re an average person trying to figure out how to live a better lifestyle. That’s why you’ll see an easy language brand voice in Bulletproof’s emails to their subscribers where they explain what refined carbohydrates are and why they’re bad for you in easy-to-read language:
If Bulletproof just threw the words “refined carbohydrates” at their customers. they wouldn’t really know what these carbs are and why they’re bad. By using easy language and explaining anything that isn’t knowledge for the average person, they’re making their content accessible to a lot of people.
An easy language brand voice works great for Bulletproof, but not for every other business.
Here’s part of an article from Nasdaq.com, written with jargon like “cash strategy,” “cull risk,” “portfolio,” “market downturn,” liquidating,” and more.
For Nasdaq, having a brand voice that speaks directly in industry jargon is totally okay. The people who are going to read the Nasdaq blog are going to be more than well equipped to understand what cash strategy, cull risk, portfolio, and the other terms mean.
But again, this doesn’t mean your brand voice has to speak in either easy language or jargon. You can find your happy in-between point where you can use mostly easy language with a hint of jargon or jargon with a hint of easy language—it all depends on what works best for your customer avatar.
Where does your business lie on the easy-language-to-jargon spectrum?
Here you are—you’ve crafted your brand voice based on what your customer avatar wants to read and hear and now you can feel confident in saying you nailed down who they want you to be.
Just remember, a brand voice can’t change often without confusing your customers. So once you’ve decided who talks to your avatar and where you lie on the friend-to-mentor and easy-language-to-jargon spectrums, you’re not going to be able to switch back and forth very often.
That’s why understanding your audience is a crucial first step in crafting your brand voice.