Brand Voice Swap Archive

Brand Voice Swap Archive

Brand voice isn’t some vague, fuzzy, woo-woo thing. There’s actually a science to it. You can measure the different components – and then you can mimic them. Take a look.👇

The components of brand voice

To build (or copy) a brand’s voice, you need to understand three foundational components:

  • Vocabulary – What words and phrases does the brand use (or avoid)?
    Some brands swear.
    Some use slang or colloquialisms.
    Some speak the King’s English.
    Some lean into heavy imagery.
    Some use branded phrases (try thinking the words “flame-grilled” without picturing a Whopper).

    To mimic a brand’s voice, you have to know what they would and wouldn’t say.

  • Tone – This is like the brand’s personality. For example, it might be cheerful, snarky, optimistic, scientific, or silly.

    Tone is also related to how the audience perceives the brand. Are they a fun friend? A trusted mentor? A guru to follow without question?

  • Cadence – This is the one that trips people up the most. When something sounds almost on brand but not quite, it’s usually because the cadence is off. Put simply, it’s the rhythm of speech – how long or short your words and sentences tend to be.

Here’s what happens when you swap the voices of two brands

This is an ongoing list. I post these breakdowns fairly regularly to LinkedIn, so if you want to see them when they’re fresh and new, follow me there.

Ford and Lexus Voice Swap (click the arrows to scroll through the gallery)

  • Average reading level: 6th grade
Blue-collar, everyman viewpoint
Balanced between you:me words
Average word length: 5 letters
Average sentence length: 11 words
Descriptive tones: Patriotic
  • most frequently used words in a sample of Ford branded copy
  • Average reading level: 5th grade
Luxuriant tone
You-centric language
Average word length: 5 letters
Average sentence length: 8 words
Descriptive tones: Relaxed
  • most frequently used words in a sample of Lexus copy
  • Ford lines written in Lexus' voice:
Original: Monday through Friday: work hard. Weekend: play harder. That’s how Ford trucks roll.
New: Seamlessly shift from weekday activities to weekend adventures. Wherever life takes you, arrive in style. 
Original: Then: TOUGH. Now: TOUGH. Some things never change. 
New: Timeless craftsmanship. Quality construction. Excellence never goes out of style.
  • Lexus lines written in Ford's style:
Original: Crafted with luxury in mind and engineered with the environment at heart.
New: We're all in this together. Built for you. Engineered for the planet.
Original: Effortlessly blurring the lines between human and machine. Just one of the ways Lexus is making luxury personal. 
New: It's more than your car. It's an extension of you. That's why we build vehicles as tough, as dependable, and as innovative as the people who drive them.

Yoda and Gandalf Voice Swap (click the arrows to scroll through the gallery)

  • Average reading level: Kindergarten
Conscientious viewpoint
Cautionary tone
Average word length: 4 letters
Average sentence length: 7 words
Descriptive tones:
  • most frequently used words in a sample of 25 Yoda quotes
  • Average reading level: 2nd grade
Hopeful tone
Balanced between sadness and joy
Average word length: 4 letters
Average sentence length: 12 words
Descriptive tones:
  • most frequently used words in a random sample of Gandalf quotes
  • Yoda lines in Gandalf's voice: Original: Once you start down the dark path, forever will it dominate your destiny. Consume you, it will.
New: Be brave and follow the light. For many who stray into darkness find there is no return from that path.
Original: Do or do not. There is no try. 
New: The time for halfhearted attempts is past. It is time now to step forth and do what fate demands.
  • Gandalf lines in Yoda's voice: Original: You can learn all there is to know about their ways in a month, and yet after a hundred years they can still surprise you.
New: Simple are their ways, yes. But full of surprises, their people are.
Original: Saruman believes that it is only great power that can hold evil in check. But that is not what I have found. I have found it is the small things, everyday deeds of ordinary folk, that keeps the darkness at bay. Simple acts of kindness and love.
New: Blinded by power, Saruman is. Power cannot contain evil. The light of the Force shared by all things. That is the weapon you must use to fight darkness.

Brand voice goes so much deeper than a brand archetype or persona. Once you dissect it and document it, any content creator worth their salt can mimic it.

This is why brand voice guides are so valuable. If you’re the only one creating your content, it can help you maintain consistency, which builds trust. But if you ever have any hope of scaling, you can’t create all your own content forever.

When something’s gotta give and that something is the time you spend making content, a brand voice guide lets you delegate and disentangle yourself from the weeds. Armed with a breakdown of exactly how to replicate your brand voice, your creators can build content that sounds like it came right from you.

It’s the closest thing to cloning yourself.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *