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Thought Leadership

Strike a chord | Finding the voice that resonates with your target market

Every good brand has a tone; an identity. The best brands have a singular thread – a voice that links all of the in-market messaging to resonate with the intended audience.

Consider Apple’s advertising. It conveys what’s possible if you own one of their products. The company markets a message that Apple products also tell the world who you are. “I’m young at heart. I think outside the box. I’m savvy, stylish, and original.” University of Phoenix’s marketing emphasizes your potential and your ability to live your best life because you – yes you – are capable of achieving your dreams. The tone is serious and seeks to inspire. Nike’s “Just Do It.” slogan is more than just a tagline; the brand’s voice entices its audience to spring into action.

These examples are years in the making. Regardless of their message, they all have one thing in common: they own their identity and make sure it shows in their voice. 

Here are five things to consider when defining – and iterating – your brand voice.

1. Message

Before thinking about how you will communicate to your audience, you need need to know what you are communicating. Thinking about your brand’s core message will help frame the essence of your brand’s voice. A powerful way to define what you intend to communicate is by starting with why. If your messaging explains why your brand exists, consumers might believe in your brand on a deeper level. Naturally, different products and campaigns will have slightly different messages, but the overarching message of what your brand stands for should remain consistent. 

2. Tone

Once you know what message you want to get across, decide on conversational style. When is the last time you saw a potato chip advertisement that wasn’t playful and fun or a home insurance commercial that made light of a house burning to the ground? The actual tone of voice is crucial in communicating with the market. While it may seem obvious to have a tone of voice consistent with your industry or segment, some brands fail to understand how that voice will be accepted in the market. That doesn’t mean that serious brands can’t be playful or that fun brands can’t strike a serious note. It is important, however, not to jump from one tone to another.

3. Medium

When establishing your brand’s voice, it is critical to understand where that voice is likely to be heard. If you rely heavily on interactive and digital messaging, your voice might be more casual and personable than a brand that uses a lot of print advertising. If you are planning national television campaigns, your voice might cater to broader audience and utilize more visuals to convey your message than if you are leveraging radio advertising. In evaluating the medium that will carry your voice, it is important to consider the visuals, sounds, and effects that will help relay your message.

4. Feature vs. benefit focused

Determine whether your message will be focused on the specific features of your product or service or the results of using that product or service. For example, a diaper company may highlight that their diapers are biodegradable and don’t sit in landfills for years. This is a feature-focused message. A different diaper company might focus on the dryness and comfort offered to a small child, hoping to resonate with the parent that says, “I want my child to be comfortable.” This is a benefit-focused message. Neither is right or wrong, and elements of each can exist in a brand’s voice. That said, most advertising highlights either the features or the benefits as a foundational element. Introducing too many different tracks and traits can cause disconnect within your brand.

5. Evaluation

Deciding what message to take to the market, how to deliver it, and how to evaluate feedback is a journey and not a destination. It’s a great idea to use the guideposts above to regularly evaluate your voice. If some messaging feels less consistent with your ongoing voice, take a moment to consider why that’s happening.

One useful tool in making sure your brand voice stays on track is to regularly ask customers and potential customers how your messaging resonates with them. While your organization likely has surveys and market tracking tools at your disposal, sometimes just asking for customers’ input proves more beneficial. Consumers will provide a wealth of information about a brand and its voice when they have an opportunity to do so outside of the specificity of a survey with closed-questions. Simply asking, “What did you think of that?” is a powerful way to start a conversation and gather important insight about how your voice is received in the market.

Let’s find your brand’s voice

Finding the right voice is crucial when it comes to taking your brand to the next level. The way the market hears you determines whether or not they choose to purchase what you are offering or tune you out entirely. If you’re challenged with finding the right voice for your company or simply need a little refinement, contact us here

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