Your brand is more than your logo. In fact, customers view brands through three distinct lenses – verbal, visual and experiential.
Your logo and the broader look and feel of your brand identity certainly drive a customer’s visual interpretation of your brand. How they are treated when engaging with your brand drives their experiential impression of your brand. That leaves the verbal lens, which is all about your brand’s spoken and written voice.
Your voice is comprised of your brand’s persona, language and purpose.
Your brand persona is simply the adjectives used to describe your brand’s character. Imagine if your brand were a person. How would you describe him or her? Is your persona authoritative, playful, inspirational, direct, humble or lighthearted?
To determine your brand persona, ask your employees and customers this question: If our brand were a car, what make and model would it be and why? An upscale brand, for example, might determine their persona is that of a BMW Z4 two-seater convertible – modern, smart, light and fun but, from a practicality standpoint, doesn’t accommodate everyone.
Another component of brand voice is the language you use. Is your ideal brand vernacular simple, sharp, whimsical or written with jargon intended to make the reader feel like an insider?
Lastly, what is the purpose of your brand communication – to entertain, enable, educate, delight, sell or engage?
So why does brand voice matter? It allows your brand to engage – to truly connect – with the market in the way a more stayed brand sans personality ever could. If all your brand stands for are the features and benefits that currently differentiate you, your brand could be at tremendous risk. The next competitor to match those differentiators has the potential to steal share. Connect on a more visceral level with the market though, and consumers will be hard pressed to walk away.
Take ice cream brand Ben & Jerry’s, whose owners founded the company on the principle of “If it’s not fun, why do it?” That brand voice resonates both inside and outside the company. Employees have fun at work and that sense of enjoyment permeates to the outside world as well. Known for fun flavors like Cherry Garcia, named for the Grateful Dead front man Jerry Garcia, the brand has been known for promoting controversial flavors such as What a Cluster, and Karmel Sutra.
Consumers can be quick to embrace a brand when its personality is genuine. If Ben & Jerry’s were run by traditional “suits,” few would deem its personality bona fide.
So identify a brand voice that’s authentic to your company culture and ensure you’re consistently delivering on it – visually, verbally and in your customer’s every experience with your brand.
Lori Turner-Wilson is an award-winning columnist and CEO/Founder of RedRover, a sales training and marketing firm based in Memphis – www.redrovercompany.com. You can follow RedRover on Twitter (@redrovercompany and @loriturner) and Facebook (facebook.com/redrovercompany).