Brand development can be confusing—especially for teams that are new to it. You thought you just needed a name and logo, but you internal marketing team or external agency keeps talking to you about brand purpose, identities, equity, and even brand voice.
Although jargon can be frustrating, your branding team is right. You do need more than just a name and a logo. Your brand isn’t what you say about yourself; it’s what other people think about you. And those impressions come from more than just your name. They come from everything you put into the market, and even your internal communications and actions. To truly influence what other people think about you, you need to take a thoughtful and systematic approach to defining your brand.
The 5 parts of brand definition:
Brand position. The distinct place your offering occupies in the market.
Brand essence. Your company’s reason for being.
Brand architecture. Your company’s structure of brands, divisions, and products—and how they relate to one another.
Brand identity. Your company’s visual representation, including logos, icons, illustrations, and photography.
Brand voice. Your company’s verbal representation, including all written and spoken words.
All of these parts of a brand are important, but one is often overlooked and is becoming increasingly more important: brand voice.
As marketers continue to invest in content marketing programs, brand voice is critical to how people perceive your organization. Are you funny or strictly business? Caring or jocular? Plain spoken or highfalutin? Words matter, and if you don’t make decisions about how you use words, you’re missing an opportunity to have an impact.
Many companies have already tackled brand voice with great success. A couple of our favorites include:
MailChimp: Their focus on people and respect shines through in their Legendary Style Guide that does a beautiful job of explaining writing style to anyone who is creating content
Procter and Gamble: See this example of them breaking their normal consumer-friendly style, for a much more stern and authoritarian tone to deal with the safety concerns of the Tide Pod Challenge.
Airbnb: They frequently promote content on a variety of channels that reinforces their culture of diversity and inclusion, and their voice seamlessly connects that culture to their customer-facing brand.
Content and communication continues to explode—from marketing to HR to operations. It’s imperative that you both define your brand voice and document it so everyone can understand and apply it.
If you need a starting point and a framework for defining your brand voice, take a look at our white paper, “Defining your brand voice.”