Your brand voice is more than just a collection of words; it’s an expression of your brand’s unique personality. Think of it as the beating heart of your brand. By consistently delivering messages that align with your brand values and promises, you can establish trust, foster deeper relationships, and inspire greater loyalty in your audience. It not only attracts new customers but also cultivates lifetime value with your existing ones.
Remember, building a great brand takes time and effort. As brand expert David Aaker apparently once said:
What exactly is a brand voice?
At its core, a brand voice is a distinct personality and style that a brand communicates via its written and verbal language. It’s how a brand expresses itself and interacts with its audience on a human level.
When a brand voice is aligned with the brand’s values, vision, and target audience, it can create a strong foundation for building trust and deeper relationships with the audience. Sounding consistent is key, here.
Nevertheless, a brand voice can and should adapt to different environments and platforms. Just as a person matches their tone of voice to their environment, so can a brand.
For example, the tone of voice used in advertising copy might be more daring and attention-grabbing than in customer interactions.
And while on TikTok, a brand may adopt a more casual tone to resonate with a younger audience, on LinkedIn, it may sound more professional and formal. Likewise, blogpost readers don’t mind reading a longer piece, but Instagram users are looking for short-form captions.
But now, let’s explore six steps on how you can create a memorable and authentic brand voice that truly resonates with your audience.
1. Identify the Target Audience
Study your ideal and existing customers. Pinpointing your target audience allows you to tailor your brand voice to their expectations, interests and language. This step is essential to engage with them at a personal level.
But how? Conduct market research and gather information about their demographics, behaviours, needs, goals and problems.
You can also run surveys, convene focus groups and analyse existing customer data. Do you notice patterns in the behaviours and characteristics of your existing customers? Which other brands do they engage with, and what do those brands sound like?
Ultimately, the secret is to sound uniquely you. As Morgan Brown, Shopify’s VP of Marketing points out:
To sum your research up, you may find it helpful to create personas. Personas are profiles of your ideal customers that you can later consult as stakeholders in your decision-making.
2. Study the Competition
Scroll through your competitor’s websites and sign up for their newsletters. What tone of voice do they use? Do you notice patterns in the way they talk? Any keywords or other frequently used phrases?
Studying your competitor’s brand voice can help you identify gaps in the market that your brand can fill. For example, I love how Alto stands out amongst ordinary pharmacies.
You can also pull influence from brands you are not competing with. Imagine how a brand voice might sound that blends Lululemon with Apple. Maybe like this: “Your workouts just got more intuitive thanks to our innovative Luxtreme™ fabric.”
3. Define the Brand’s Vision & Values
One of the most important things you can do to build trust and credibility is to ensure that your brand voice aligns with your company’s vision and values. Customers can skillfully spot when a brand is not genuine, so staying true to your values is a must.
A vision statement can help you summarise the future your brand is striving towards. But it doesn’t necessarily have to be 100% achievable. By proposing a compelling and meaningful vision, you can attract an audience that believes in what you’re doing.
Marc Pollard from Sweathead once pointed out a great way to craft compelling vision statements: Try to imagine how your company will change the world:
“A world in which … (something is different).”
For example “A world in which there is no poverty.” You can also rephrase the statement later, such as: “Imagine a world without poverty.”
To define brand values, I typically look for what values the company shares with its target audience. This approach will help create a brand that fosters a sense of community and shared values.
4. Define the Tone of Voice for Your Brand
Now, it’s time to connect the dots. Think about what qualities you want your brand to express. Should it be formal or casual? Funny or serious?
By compiling a good mix of characteristics, you’ll make sure to keep your brand voice fresh and interesting. A good rule of thumb is to choose no more than five characteristics relevant to your brand.
Consider the following characteristics:
- Formal vs Casual
- Confident vs Modest
- Enthusiastic vs Calming
- Humorous vs Serious
- Inspiring vs Informative
- Playful vs Professional
- Courageous vs Reserved
To further define your brand’s personality, imagine the brand as a person. A person’s unique identity shines through in how they dress, behave, and speak—the topics they talk about and their tone.
- What would my brand wear?
- Who would they hang out with?
- What would they eat?
- What social platforms would they use?
- What music do they listen to?
By answering these questions, you can create a more detailed and nuanced picture of your brand personality and tone of voice.
5. Write Brand Voice Guidelines
Words are gold when building a deep connection with your target audience and maintaining your brand identity. And just like with your visual brand elements, consistency is the key here too.
So, how can you ensure that your brand voice remains consistent across all platforms and communication channels, even when multiple copywriters are involved? The easiest way is to create a set of brand voice guidelines and stick to them religiously.
These guidelines could cover a range of aspects, such as:
- Tone of voice (whether you want to sound informed, warm, or conversational)
- Personality (e. g. a supportive friend)
- Vision and values (e. g. a zero-carbon world)
- Examples (including dos and don’ts)
- Customisation (how to sound on LinkedIn, Instagram, newsletters, etc.)
- Grammar and syntax (e. g. simple sentence structures, no abbreviations)
- Typographical guidelines (such as how to write phone numbers or certain terminology)
Are you looking for some inspiration? Mailchimp shares its Mailchimp guidelines publically.
6. Review and Refine Regularly
Don’t forget to review your brand voice guidelines regularly to ensure they remain consistent and relevant to the evolving brand identity and target audience.
I know it’s a lot to think about. But all of this work will pay off in time. With an authentic and memorable brand voice, people will listen to and trust your brand.
Let’s look at some examples.
Brand voice examples
To wrap things up, let’s look at how others use their brand voice across different channels.
Oatly is a plant-based food and beverage company known for its bold, unapologetic, and quirky brand voice. See for yourself.
Oatly Ad: Difficult Age
Oatly on Twitter 
Oatly on Instagram 
The Dropbox brand voice reflects the company’s focus on simplicity and ease of use by being straightforward, approachable, and confident.
Dropbox Website 
Dropbox on Twitter 
The brand voice of the sustainable footwear brand Allbirds is environmentally conscious, playful, and approachable. Allbirds never fails to bring in elements of surprise.
Allbirds Ad: Meet your shoes
Allbirds on Instagram 
From the Allbirds sustainability report 
As these examples show, establishing and maintaining your brand voice is a big step towards building trust and recognition with your target audience.
Now, you are ready to craft your brand story.
In conclusion, brand voice is an essential component of a strong brand identity. By consistently delivering messages that align with your brand’s values and promises, you can build trust, deeper relationships, and greater loyalty among your audience.
You can create a memorable and authentic brand voice by first understanding your customers and studying the competition. Then define the brand vision and values and set the tone of voice for your brand. Finally, write up some brand voice guidelines.
Keep in mind: Building a great brand takes time and effort. Brands are not built through a single advertisement but through thousands of minor gestures that cultivate trust and relationships over time.
Brand voice is only one part of your branding and should be developed alongside your identity design. In this context, you might also be interested in my articles on choosing brand colours or typography.
 Oatly on Twitter. Source: https://twitter.com/oatly/status/1532372830146502658?cxt=HHwWhIC9xYu-isQqAAAA
 Oatly on Instagram. Source: https://www.instagram.com/p/BFvn-sHorRP/
 Dropbox Website. Source: https://experience.dropbox.com/
 Dropbox on Twitter. Source: https://twitter.com/Dropbox/status/1620104683942514695?cxt=HHwWjsC4lYuo4vssAAAA
 Allbirds on Instagram. Source: https://www.instagram.com/p/Clynp-dsrAl/
 Allbirds Website. Source: https://www.allbirds.co.nz/pages/sustainable-practices