The best brands evoke a clear, consistent voice by understanding what their consumer-facing and employer brand personality is — and what it is not.
In this crowded media landscape, a clear, consistent editorial voice could be the difference between your brand’s success or failure. But conjuring a winning personality is just the beginning. Truly masterful branding goes hand-in-hand with the ability to develop (and refine) an original voice as your company evolves.
While intent is certainly important, your brand’s true staying power comes from a careful consideration of your audience, and creating a voice that speaks to them rather than explicitly pitching your product.
Define Your Brand Personality
Crystal clear consistency requires diligent groundwork. Understand your company’s nature: are you edgy? Funny? Appealing to your audience with a wink toward their baser nature? Wherever you land on the spectrum, defining your editorial style is key to building a lasting persona. Once you’ve drilled down to your communication “bedrock,” you have a firm base from which to expand your brand’s reach.
Total immersion into your audience’s world can also provide answers. What are influencers in your sector saying? Where do your competitors succeed or fail in their communications and branding? What does your audience gravitate toward? In addition to poring over comment sections and reviews, actively engaging with your audience on social media is an easy way to gain insight, two-way familiarity and trust.
Consider the energy drink titans at Red Bull, as referenced in Nick’s video below. Though the Red Bull Media TV channel’s content may only be tangentially related to the drink itself, the company has used it to establish a definite, clear, consistent brand identity and voice. This allows Red Bull to expand its content to speak to a larger audience who may not have sought out the drink to begin with. Because they are able to apply their editorial voice to seemingly unrelated topics, those topics now fall under the Red Bull brand identity. It’s like hearing a cover song that the new artist seamlessly makes her own.
Define the Opposite of Your Brand Personality
Once you’ve defined what your brand’s voice is, be sure to define exactly what it is not. This may seem obvious, but reverse-engineering can keep your carefully crafted voice from straying out of tune as your brand expands and evolves. By contrast, only defining what your brand voice should sound like leaves the foundation of your editorial identity tenuously loose and very open to misinterpretation.
Of course, the definition of what your brand’s voice is not should act as a steering mechanism, guiding your brand as it picks up speed and alters course. Think of it like bowling with the rails up as opposed to exposing your ball to the dangers of the gutter. Not the most authentic way to bowl, but a terrific safeguard against inconsistency in your brand voice.
Let Your Editorial Voice Evolve with Your Brand
So you have your brand voice down, you’ve engaged with your audience and you’ve made clear exactly what your voice is not. Great. Now keep working on it.
Monthly razor delivery service Dollar Shave Club burst onto the scene with a clear voice and a well-honed attitude. But, because great first impressions don’t necessarily make for lasting relationships, the brand evolved. Instead of resting on its laurels, DSC developed the publication MEL, which allowed for greater social reach while still staying true to the company’s emerging ethos and corresponding editorial voice.
Your brand on day 1,001 isn’t the same as it was on day 1, so don’t try to recapture the magic you think may have been lost. The beauty of knowing yourself as a brand and crafting a clear, consistent voice to match is that, once the expected and unexpected upheavals of business inevitably occur, you’ll be ready to adapt rather than surrender.