The subject of brand voice gets a lot of well-deserved attention – most recently in a new Facebook-commissioned Forrester study. First among the “key takeaways” on the prerequisites for winning in a connected (read: primarily social) world is this:
“Articulate a brand’s social identity so the brand communicates with a unique, authentic and compelling voice.”
IN A TACTICALLY-DRIVEN ERA, BRAND VOICE STILL MATTERS
This is indeed key, but it is not news: the most effective brand marketing has always required a clear, consistent, compelling and, yes, unique voice. What is news is the fact that having a unique brand voice is not only still relevant but, in fact, of primary importance.
At Creative on Call, we see that importance virtually every time a client comes to us for online content, as they are most often looking to restore (or establish) a brand voice that some tactically-adept-but-strategically-and-creatively-inept online marketing “gurus” have managed to make indistinguishable from any other.
WHAT’S MISSING FROM ALL THE EXPERT ADVICE ON HOW TO CREATE A BRAND VOICE
Of course, there’s no shortage of advice on what brand marketers should do to create an effective voice for their brand – and much of it is quite good. For a peak at marketing 101 (actually, Marketing 353), try this assignment from a course at Stanford (although I would quibble with its mention of a “slogan” as a “catch phrase,” by which it should simply be remembered, versus a theme line crisply and, yes, memorably encapsulating a brand’s core promise). What’s missing from Stanford’s approach to creating a brand voice – and from many others – is a commitment to understanding what your brand truly, honestly has to say.
Yes, you need to cover the branding basics, what we call “3-D Branding”:
- DISCOVER the attitudes and needs and desires of all parties involved
- DEFINE the brand essence
- DEVELOP a differentiating positioning statement and master communications strategy
However, it’s in part two that the most critical work needs to be done: Define the brand essence – find the clear, simple truth about your brand. The beauty of finding your brand truth is that truth, when presented well, is self-evident. You don’t need to argue your points, you just need to present them in a clear, consistent, memorable way (OK, that last part gets tricky, but without that difficulty we creative types would be out of work).
The brand voice that arises out of your simple truth doesn’t have to bend the facts or manipulate to express it. It’s authentic, in the least buzz-wordy way possible, and it will be a voice that your customers are pleased to hear, and willing to converse with.
Can you cite brands that are good at speaking out of their simple truth?