How to Develop a Brand Voice That’s True to You

Branding Design, Business, Tips & Tricks

Do you ever feel like it’s impossible to sound like yourself when you write?

I hear this all the time from entrepreneurs when they’re in the middle of tweaking their About page or trying to write their bio. If you dread writing about yourself or want your writing voice to sound more like how you talk, today’s article is absolutely for you.

Brand voice development is something I’m really passionate about. It’s one of the biggest reasons why I love using the StoryBrand framework to write website copy for my clients as an add-on service to their Showit website design. It gives me the opportunity to write in their unique voice (which is always slightly and beautifully different from my own).

It may seem like your brand voice should come effortlessly, but rest assured it takes time and a lot of work to get it just right. Like anything, the more you practice, the more natural it will feel to write in your voice.


Why should we care about having a brand voice?

Brand voice is defined by CoSchedule as “the personality and emotion [that are] infused into a company’s communications, encompassing everything from the words and language you use, to the personality and image your marketing assets aim to invoke.”

When you have a brand voice that is cohesive and clear to understand, it helps your audience build more trust with your brand. This means you’ll have an easier time marketing your products and services when you have a brand voice that’s fully developed.

As I mentioned before, this takes time but it’s well worth the effort. Writing is one of the key ways we communicate with our customers and the world around us. It’s an essential skill for any entrepreneur to have, so let’s dive into a few more reasons why you’ll want to focus on cultivating your brand voice.


You’ll sound different than your competitors

Who wants to sound like everyone else? I know it sounds cheesy, but you were born to stand out from the crowd. If you feel like you’re getting lost in the sea of other experts in your industry, your brand voice is one of the main elements that will distinguish you from the rest.

While it may seem tempting to take on the same persona as a successful competitor, it’s more important to sound like yourself.

Think about it this way. If someone met you at a networking event, would the words you say on your website or social media match what you say in person? If it feels like there’s a disconnect, it’s time to revisit your brand voice.

I see this disconnect usually happen because of two reasons:

  • A creative wants to raise their prices so they end up using luxurious language to seem more high-end, but they never use the same words on their sales calls since they like to have a more friendly and approachable tone.
  • A business owner feels like they might be seen as overly professional so they decide to use casual, ill-fitting phrases like “hey girl hey” and “ain’t that the truth,” all because other influencers seem to be talking that way.

In both of these examples, it’s clear these limiting beliefs around their natural voice are holding them back. Remember, it’s always better to sound like yourself than catering to the masses or creating a style that feels inauthentic.


You’re able to personally connect with your audience

People trust humans over logos. Even though your visual branding plays a powerful role in your business, it’s mostly there to grab your audience’s attention. From there, you can use your writing to tell your story and create a more personal connection.

Have you noticed how much more likely you are to make a purchase from someone you know than someone you just heard about? That’s because the act of building relationships helps us make a lasting impression. You can do this primarily through your writing.

Without a clear brand voice, you’ll miss the opportunity to position yourself as a helpful expert or friendly guide they feel connected to. Your brand voice should convey what values are important to you, the breadth of experience you have, and how you prefer to communicate with others.

I’m willing to bet there are bloggers and authors who write in a way that make you feel like you know them personally, even if you’ve never spoken to them. This perfectly illustrates the power of creating and effectively using your brand voice! 


Your writing will have consistency

I’m sure you’ve heard consistency is king when it comes to marketing your creative business. The same is true for your writing. Without a consistent tone of voice, you’ll run the risk of confusing your audience or turning them off.

This is especially true if you’ve already hired (or plan to hire) a social media manager, blog ghostwriter, or copywriter for your business. They will need to create content in your voice, so it’s important to define your voice so collaborators can easily emulate it.

To help with this, you can create what’s called a brand voice guide. By having a list of guidelines, collaborators will be aware of what makes your voice unique and how to implement it into each channel. It’s also beneficial if you find yourself struggling to write to your ideal audience. (Psst… we all feel this way from time to time. Don’t sweat it!)

When you’re ready to take a deep dive into uncovering your truest brand voice, these strategies and exercises will help you get started. 


Strategies for writing in your natural brand voice

People say you should write in an “authentic” way, but what does that actually look like? While it’s become an overused buzzword, it’s important to write with authenticity and transparency. If you’re not sure where to begin with defining your voice, you’ll love these next steps.


Make a list of content you’ve already written that you love

Even if you don’t feel confident in everything you write, chances are you’ve written a few things that feel like a good representation of your brand. This is your opportunity to read through your archive of existing content and create a list of samples you like.

This could include Instagram posts, email newsletters, marketing materials, PDF guides, or even emails you’ve sent to customers or clients in the past. Anything you’ve written that you’re somewhat proud of, put it on your list.


Choose three to five adjectives to describe your voice

Now that you have a list of content samples, take a moment to read through them and write down a list of words that describe your voice in each one. Try not to edit yourself at this stage. Write down any adjectives that come to mind.

Did you find yourself educating your audience or entertaining them? Did you have a knack for storytelling or sharing data-driven insight? Were you more likely to be professional and formal, or friendly and casual? Did your writing sound more like flowery prose or a step-by-step manual?

These are just a few questions to get you started if you need an extra push. Once you have a large list of adjectives, look through it and determine if each word feels like a fit.

If you have a long list of adjectives, try to narrow them down to three to five main descriptors. You can keep the other words for reference, but choosing a select few words will help you understand exactly how you want your brand voice to sound.

To take it one step further, you could also look at the list of common adjectives below and write down the ones that feel most natural to you. Again, this is less about what you wish you sounded like and more about how you already sound.

 

Edgy 

Playful

Kind

Compassionate

Thoughtful

Professional

Friendly

Creative

Fun

High-end

Feminine

Optimistic

Passionate

Inspiring

Multifaceted

Insightful

Charming

Loyal

Engaging

Hilarious

Intentional

Bold

Witty

Casual

Poetic

Motivating

Cheerful

Determined

Clever

Courageous

Distinct

Elegant

Excited

Energetic

Fierce

Relaxed

Confident

Knowledgeable 

Sincere

Educational

Helpful

Lively

Luxurious

Joyful

Modern

Approachable

Powerful

Silly

Minimal

Calm

Ambitious

Gentle

Resourceful

Generous

Polite

Brave

Dynamic

Thankful

Fearless

Academic

 

Once you have a good idea of what you want to be known for, then you can move on to the last step: creating some do’s and don’ts for your brand voice.


Define what your brand voice is and isn’t 

When you’re making a list of brand voice guidelines, it’s helpful to define your ideal tone, formatting, writing style, and so much more. This is because your brand voice is not only about what you do (and don’t) say but also how and why you say it.

Let’s use the example of a business coach who wants to use their brand voice to attract higher paying clients. However, the business coach also knows their ideal audience doesn’t connect with stuffy professionals or people who seem to have it all figured out. They don’t like one-size-fits-all formulas since they value one-on-one connections.

This business coach may create a Do’s and Don’ts list that looks like this:

 

Do use strong verbs instead of lukewarm language that may feel uninspiring.

Do write in a typical sentence format with proper capitalization and punctuation, but use exclamation points sparingly for emphasis. 

Do use bold headings when formatting copy on our website. This is a great way to break up blocks of text so our long-form content feels less overwhelming.

Do use catch phrases we love, which can include “Be the change you want to see in the world,” “Slow growth is still growth,” and “Show up and do the work.” 

Don’t use complicated jargon that our ideal audience may not understand. If we do happen to use an essential piece of jargon, always define what it means. 

Don’t obsess over the language other business coaches use. Put blinders on so we sound like other influencers in our field.

Don’t forget to use italics to highlight key phrases, but try to only use them once per page so we don’t try to emphasize too many things at once.

Don’t capitalize all of the letters in our headings but keep it simple with only capitalizing the first letter of the first word.

 

Your do’s and don’ts list will look different, of course, but having these guidelines in place will help you define a more consistent brand voice. It will also help your team understand what you’re looking for so you can cut down on back-and-forth communication and revision time.


A simple brand voice challenge for you

Now that you have a list of do’s and don’ts along with a few descriptors and content samples, you have a great foundation to start building your brand voice from.

That’s why I’m challenging you to write ONE new piece of content with your brand voice in mind. Anything good begins with a bold first step, so let’s start with something small but powerful.

You can write a:

  • blog post or guest blog post 
  • video or podcast script
  • email newsletter or email series
  • personal bio for your website


Think you’re up to the challenge? I can’t wait to see what you create. Share it with me by
tagging me on Instagram or sending me a DM when you’re done. I’m cheering you on!

How to Develop a Brand Voice That's True to You

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