Who are you?
That sounds like an existential, New Age-type question, but for businesses, it’s firmly rooted in good marketing.
A strong marketing plan is planted in a brand story. It’s who your company is, deep down. It’s your brand’s personality – what it sounds like, what it looks like, what it stands for, and how it makes people feel.
Having a clear, consistent brand voice:
- Helps create consistency in your messaging. When you start thinking of your brand like a person, you discover the way it should talk – things it would say, things it would never say; the kind of stories it would tell; the topics it would find important. A consistent message over time and across media helps your audience to recognize your brand when they see it.
- Speaking of media, having a brand personality helps you to decide what media make the most sense for you. It helps you tailor your message to the medium while staying recognizable.
- Ideally, your brand’s personality is something your Dream Customers can relate to. It echoes elements of their own personality – who they are or, better yet, who they aspire to be – drawing them in to form a true relationship with you. Remember, people buy with their hearts, not their heads. To market effectively, you need to make your audience feel something.
Let’s take a look at a few brands that have done a good job establishing a simple, distinct brand voice.
I love talking about Nike because its brand personality is just so recognizable. Who is Nike? It’s simple. Straightforward. From the clean lines of its font to its direct tagline to its iconic logo, Nike is a no-frills, get-it-done brand. Its slogans are short and its ads are almost always a single, strong image, usually in black-and-white.
If Nike was a person, based on its marketing, I would describe it as determined, hard-working, serious, and disciplined.
Burger King is that one really weird friend the rest of the group likes but doesn’t quite get. Its advertising is quirky, irreverent, and frankly a little bizarre. From that creepy guy in the King mask to the infamous moldy Whopper ad, Burger King is establishing itself as an expect-the-unexpected brand. This carries through offbeat ideas for product offerings (chicken in the shape of a French fry, anyone?) and location design (I love the exit door that says, “No, don’t leave!”)
If Burger King was a person, I’d say it was interesting, off-the-wall, and kind of weird, but always honest and true to itself.
Patagonia is a brand that really prides itself on walking the talk. It has firmly established itself as outdoorsy, rugged, and a defender of the environment. Patagonia is a really interesting branding study because those attributes are not just part of a campaign or brand voice developed by the marketing team – they pervade the company culture, influencing its charitable work and how it treats its employees.
If Patagonia was a person, I’d describe it as healthy, nature-loving, outdoorsy, and grassroots liberal.
Amazon is kind of the elephant in every room where conversations about business and branding are taking place. The behemoth can barely remember its early days as an online bookstore (can you?). Today, Amazon has fingers in so many pies it could count to a thousand with its shoes on.
But what links all those ventures together? Who is Amazon, from a brand perspective? If Amazon was a person, I would describe it as ambitious, tech-savvy, visionary, and driven.
So going back to your brand – who are you? Not you, personally, but your company (unless, of course, you are your brand, which, if you are a solopreneur, is entirely possible).
But why does your brand need a voice? Isn’t it enough to just tell people what you do?
Well, honestly, you could do that. Some companies do OK without a unique voice. But most don’t. And even those that do could probably do better if they spent some time developing their brand.
A voice allows you to be creative in your messaging without worrying about turning off your Dream Customers. As long as you remain true to yourself and what you stand for as a company, your messages will resonate.