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Defining Your Brand Voice

How to consistently deliver an impactful message.

One of the cornerstones of cultivating a lasting relationship with your users is creating a consistent and recognizable voice. Whether it’s the initial content on your landing page or the style and tone of your blog, every piece of user-facing messaging has the opportunity to further define your brand and deepen the connection with your audience.

Here are some guidelines to consider when developing what kind of voice you want your brand to have:

Know your audience: If your app or product is geared towards professionals in the healthcare industry, you probably don’t want to lean too heavily on informality and humor in your messaging. Conversely, if your app is, say, designed to point users towards the best local happy hour specials, you’ll want to avoid a sterile, clinical feel that takes the fun out of everything. This is information you can learn about during your user research stage.

Be empathetic towards the kind of ideal experience your users may be looking for, and use your existing user testing and research to inform what that might be. Let your user demographics help steer you towards the kind of messaging that might be appealing to them, but do beware of going too far in a direction and sounding hollow or phony.

Perception vs. Reality: How does your audience perceive your company? Is it the way you’d like them to think of you? Or do you have some major re-branding or marketing strategies to consider?

Talk to your users to get an idea of what they think of your voice, or perhaps what they’d like to see from you branding wise. The reason why talking to your users is so important in this arena is because so much can be misinterpreted or lost in the written word. Jokes can be read as facts, and attempts at irony or sarcasm can fall flat and make you seem tasteless.

Great artists steal: Even if you’re the first product in a completely uncharted industry, it’s helpful to find existing or past companies that you’d like to emulate. If you’re developing a niche, no-frills personalized URL software application, but you really love the fun style of a company like Jellyvision, spend a lot of time reading through Jellyvision’s user-facing content and find out what aspects of it could apply to your unrelated product.

Better yet, if you’re uncomfortable or inexperienced with copywriting and branding and want to make sure you put your best editorial foot forward, hire a copywriter or someone with marketing and messaging experience to steadily steer you in the right direction.

Playing it (almost) safe: Sure, it’s easy to play it safe, and probably for the best at first. After all, it’s a fine line between having a bold voice and just being careless with your brand. But like many things, with great risk occasionally comes great reward, especially when it comes to making a lasting impact on your users and staying in their heads.

Groupon is a great case study in this instance, as a huge part of their initial appeal was the off-kilter, irreverent, and occasionally downright surreal humor they infused into their marketing and site content. As Groupon grew faster than any company ever, some growing pains would occur when some user in Akron, Ohio, simply wanted to buy their mini-golf Groupon and not read through two paragraphs of jokes about the fictional antics of Benjamin Franklin’s ghost. However, also consider that some folks were Groupon customers strictly because of that consistently surprising silliness.

It’s also worth noting that Groupon, among other quirkier companies, takes a more nuanced approach when handling customer service issues, as blasting them with humor isn’t always the best course of remediation for a disappointing user experience.

Ultimately, the decision of what kind of personality you want your company to have is up to you, and the more thought, research, and testing you put into it, the better.

We’d love to hear about some of your favorite company voices, as well as some of the successes or difficulties you’ve had in cultivating your own voice. We even offer consultative services if you need help kickstarting which direction your voice, style, and tone should go in, so drop us a line!