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More Than a Name: Building a Brand with a Personality

Taylor White
Jul 30, 2020 9:30:38 AM

One way to ensure that your company is more than just a name or a logo is through the messaging. Adding personality and flair to your brand makes it stand out from the crowd. Oftentimes brands forget to grasp a clear voice and tone for which they market themselves. Customers desire to support brands that they feel can relate to them. Spending time crafting your tone and voice takes your company from just another organization to a brand that people will want to get behind and support.

Knowing the Difference

In building a brand that is memorable and relatable to your audience, it is important to deeply understand the voice in which your company communicated with and the tone in which that voice is spoken. Understanding the difference between voice and tone can be difficult as many use the terms interchangeably when they, in fact, have very different connotations. Let’s dive into the nuances in their differences and show you how companies use different tones while maintaining a consistent voice.

Voice

When discussing the voice of the brand, it is important to remember that your voice is your company’s personality verbalized. To best determine your brand’s voice, think about the words you want your audience to think of when they hear your company’s name or see your logo. Think about the experience you want your customers to have when speaking with one of your representatives; when a custom leaves a review, what words do you hope they use in describing this experience? Lastly, think about the values your company holds supreme, the mission your company seeks to achieve, and the vision your company is casting to achieve that mission. 

Open the discussion to your team. Start by asking them to think about the above questions separately. You might find that a few key words stick out or are often repeated across the board. These words should be the foundation for your brand's voice. In order to hit the mark with your audience, be sure to “include” buyer personas in the conversation; Ask the team how this voice would resonate with each persona and ensure that it hits the mark for each one.

Let’s take a look at the voice of Sauce Marketing:

  • Modern | We are hip to the style. We seamlessly marry data with design to create unique content that delivers results.
  • Trendy | We know what is popular for the moment and what will stay around until the end of time. We incorporate trends with the tried and true.
  • Brave | We aren't afraid to shake things up. Highlighted by our diverse backgrounds, we bring a unique perspective that helps clients convert leads. 

As a brand, Sauce aims to be at the forefront of trends but not without proper vetting and research. We never want a client to think we simply sold them a product or service without fully understanding what the data shows in its proven effectiveness. We are bold and we always will be, though we aim to use our voice in a way that empowers others to join in on speaking their truth.

It is important that your voice is consistent regardless of what you’re saying. Ensure that what your brand says and why it says is true to the core of the company. Though your voice is unwavering, you should alter that voice by changing the tone in which you speak depending on the context.

It is important that your voice is consistent regardless of what you’re saying. Ensure that what your brand says and why it says is true to the core of the company. Though your voice is unwavering, you should alter that voice by changing the tone in which you speak depending on the context.

Tone

Your voice represents what and why your brand says what it does, but your tone is how you decide to say it. Just the same as we each speak with a different tone, your brand can speak with different tones regarding the same topic. 

When determining your tone, you should think about what your voice is and why, but also dive further into understanding your audience. We all come to expect different tones of voice depending on the medium the voice is spoken through. You wouldn’t expect to hear the casual, more personal tone often present on Instagram on the more professional site, LinkedIn. Likewise, audiences praise and expect quick wit on Twitter, but Facebook is more so a place to express full authenticity and rewards feel-good stories.

Here is the tone in which Sauce modulates our voice:

  • Saucy | Every post needs some flavor. Add a pinch of moxie and a touch of sass. Don't be afraid to shake things up, but never be off-putting.
  • Humorous | Our sense of humor is straight-faced, subtle, and a touch eccentric. We're weird, but not inappropriate—smart, but not snobbish.
  • Genuine | We love what we do and we are damn good at it. Let your passion for excellence and growing smarter show.

Sauce’s tone of voice hammers in the personality that we aim to embody. We seek to use these tones because it also embodies the personalities naturally present in our team — it is wise to ensure an internal culture and brand personality match when adding new members to the team because you want that personality to shine with every experience a client has with any team member. Sauce as a brand has personality in the name itself, we always aim to add flavor to our client’s messaging but know that too much sauce can hide the underlying meat of the company.

Personality in Action

Building a brand is more than just saying, “This is my voice and this is my tone, enjoy!” It is about implementing your company’s voice and tone in the most effective way. Consumers are quick to drop brands that they feel do not align with their own personalities or that appear to be inauthentic. Always aim to get approval and support from the personas you have laid out and disregard those that obviously misalign with your brand. It’s not about enraging or dismissing those that do not align with you, it is about focusing on building and nurturing the relationship with those that do align with you. 

We all have companies that we have decided to no longer engage with or support. Whether it is because they have given funding dollars to a politician we don’t support, made light of critical issues in our society, or even just responded grossly to a customer. Before posting, commenting, or sharing information through your company’s public channels, ensure that what you share, how you share it, and why you share it relate directly to your company’s voice, tone, and personality. The values that your company holds closest should be reflected in your messaging regardless of the voice and tone used to disseminate that message. Ensure that your values align with your choice of voice and tone and that people can easily understand your values throughout your messaging.

Let’s take a look at how other companies have curated a personality that speaks to their audience perfectly and reflect their values while doing so.

Starbucks

One thing that makes this coffeeshop stand out is not just the iconic and weirdly controversial Pumpkin Spice Latte, it is the unwavering creativity, passion, and social justice support that makes Starbucks so popular with their customers. Recently, Starbucks decided to redefine its voice to be functional yet expressive so that it could create “more space for brand identity, connection, and joy."

example of Starbucks' functional and expressive voice and tone

While in-store, Starbucks seeks to create an open and inviting environment that is enticing yet informative on the new and beloved store offerings. Online, Starbucks uses its voice to give recognition and attention to ongoing social issues such as LGBTQ+ rights and the BLM Movement. Though the company mainly focuses its online platform to new products and highlighting its employees, Starbucks is not shy when it comes to voicing its opinion on what and who matters to the company.

screenshot of Starbucks Instagram posts depicting examples of voice and tone

Starbucks uses the tones of connection and joy to create an atmosphere online that tells marginalized and minority groups that they are always welcomed. Starbucks uses its voice to inspire joy for everyone and create a safe place for connection. Through every post and advertisement Starbucks creates, it is evident that they value creating a warm and welcoming environment while still acting with courage regarding social inequality issues. They have carefully and brilliantly aligned their values with their voice and tone so that no matter what you see from Starbucks, you know what they stand for and why.

[adult swim]

If you know about Adult Swim, you either love it or you hate it — there is rarely a middle-ground. Praised for being brash, irreverent, and just a bit off, Adult Swim leans heavily into its quirk appeal. Adult Swim doesn’t care what you think and yet isn’t afraid to ask you for your wifi password. Home to some of the most outlandish shows on the air, Adult Swim takes its online presence up a notch with provocative commercial bumps between shows. In truth, Adult Swim doesn’t really care if you love it or hate it, it knows it has a large following of people dedicated to the shows and that’s about all that matters.

Adult Swim is an interesting study in the use of voice and tone. The creatives behind the shows and in the marketing department aren’t worried about getting a terrorism threat called on them. They know that the crazier stunts they pull will just make their dedicated audience more in love with them. If Adult Swim took the “easier” route of trying to appease everyone, then everyone would have a lukewarm affection towards them. Instead, Adult Swim would rather dive head first into the crazy, bizarre, and just down-right weird because they know that is what their audience desires!

Always

The feminine hygiene company truly understands their audience. In 2014, Always launched the #LikeAGirl campaign in which both men and women of all ages were interviewed on what it means to them to do something “like a girl”. The video series began with a laidback conversation on the hurtful, misogynistic phrase then proceeds to ask the interviewees to demonstrate how someone might do anything like a girl. After the demonstrations, the interviewees were brought back for another interview in which they are faced with how the phrase can be hurtful to their moms, sisters, aunts, grandmothers, female friends, and daughters. Each video in the series ends with a montage of women showing how they actually do something like a girl from playing softball, doing ballet, and any other amazing talent they have. The piece is powerful and started a movement to change how people perceive the often hurtful saying into something that is empowering and supportive.

 

Always has capitalized on their intended audience while putting things into perspective for their unintended audience. Though women are the ones to use Always’ products, men can sometimes be the one to purchase these items for the women in their lives. By creating such a powerful campaign, women were empowered to take the “like a girl” phrase and turn it on its head to mean something completely different. Though conversations like this can be tough to have, Always sought to have this conversation in an open yet empowering way that rallied both sides to reconsider their original thinking.

BarkBox

BarkBox has done an amazing job in addressing their audience of dog owners. Their voice and tone is reminiscent of anyone’s favorite doggo; fiercely loyal, energetic, and ready-to-please! When it comes to marketing to dog owners, BarkBox is laid back and chill, letting your love for your pet guide you into signing up for the subscription box. They value a dog-inclusive lifestyle for dog owners and seek to do so through education, technology, and volunteerism which is evident across their seven different instagram accounts. Every post, product description, and call to action puts focus on the pet and not the owner. BarkBox feeds on your love for your dog, they know you love your pet more than life itself and they have fully capitalized on that fact.

screenshot of BarkBox's Career page

BarkBox’s  instagram is filled with cute doggo pictures and videos, breaking news alerts regarding the office dogs, and even spotlights of other dog-centric brands they believe their viewers should know about. Though talking about your competition might be a no-no for other business models, BarkBox highlights these organizations as part of them making the world more dog-inclusive. BarkBox knows that their customers support dogs and the good boy/girl characteristics we love about our pets. They use these values to speak perfectly to other dog owners the way that their dog might talk to them or the way we might talk about cute instagram-worthy dogs.

The Final Say

These brands are not one in a million, but they have made a million (or a few) by being cognizant of their audience and positioning themselves to speak to them in their messaging. Some of these brands, and many more, have been around forever; their long-term success can be attributed to knowing their audience to a tee. Though brands can come under scrutiny for actions they make or stances they take, the few people they lose are minuscule to the hoards of loyal and dedicated customers. Use these brands as an example for creating your brand’s voice and tone. None of these brands try to be everyone’s cup of tea (or coffee in Starbucks’ case), they try to solely speak (or bark) to those people that are more than willing to become loyal to their brand.

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