What makes a brand into a household name? We all know them: Coca-Cola – Good vibes in a cold beverage. Nike – Edgy athleticism in a tennis shoe. MyPillow – Cheesy patriotism in a pillow. It’s brand voice – and studying distinctive brand voice examples can help businesses like yours find their own.
You may think that the prime mover in determining a brand’s voice should be the company’s values and the product’s defining features.
Although these factors are important, there’s one essential ingredient in a successful brand voice: your target customers and their needs.
- Their demographic characteristics
- Their pain points
- Their cravings
As 99 Designs’ Colette Pomerleau puts it, “A brand voice is successful when it causes your audience to connect with, engage in and most importantly, believe in what you do.”
First, Look at Your Own Target Customers
If you haven’t done your research into what makes your customers tick, it’s time to take a deep dive into your content analytics to identify your target customers’ demographics, preferences, online behavior, and pain points. That data can help you get an idea of what direction your brand voice should take.
Jot those down as you brainstorm. Creating customer personas – portraits of your target customer segments – helps you to put a human face on their needs and desires.
Empathy helps. Put yourself in their shoes, and you can see how they’d like to hear your message.
Next, Study How Successful Brands Use Customer Needs to Define Their Brand Voice
Coca-Cola certainly did – and still does – look at its target customers to determine its brand voice. First concocted by a pharmacist to soothe the ills and woes of his Atlanta customers, the drink promised renewed energy and good vibes. From the get-go, its branding reflected those promises.
From its high-energy red-and-white logo to the flowing script, the brand showcased the drink’s benefits to its customers. Its messaging continues its refreshing vibe to this day.
Even its name exudes a holistic view of food — and life – which is exactly the philosophy Whole Foods’ eco-conscious customers want their grocery store to reflect. Graphic designer Laura Guard, whose team worked on the store’s branding process, says her guiding mantra as, “One foot in the house, one foot in the garden.” It expresses that vibe perfectly.
With minimalist layouts and plenty of white space, Whole Foods showcases its messages in a format that screams “clean.” Curvy typefaces echo the lines of the organic plant foods that are its flagship offering.
The brand’s content marketing strategy incorporates both employee expertise in handling fresh foods and the company’s concern for the planet and its people. The brand voice is a virtual siren song for attracting its target customer segments.
Bringing elegance into the booming fitness market mix, Mirror’s distinctive brand personality sets it far apart from the Nordic Tracks and Pelotons of the industry. Its voice doesn’t thunder; it whispers.
But what a whisper. Rather than showing sweaty people on ugly machines, Mirror showcases its virtual personal trainer inside high-end homes, fitting into the background seamlessly when no one uses it.
When it’s not on, it looks likes like a contemporary, frameless mirror that you can mount on the wall or prop up on an easel-like stand. It’s practically a work of art.
During workouts, it comes alive, with your virtual trainer demonstrating every move. Users’ biometric data feed into the app, allowing it to customize users’ workouts to their exact needs.
It’s no wonder that Cnet has named it 2020’s “Best Home Personal Trainer.” Svelte models in slick layouts echo the brand’s voice all over its website. Reviews from Vogue, Goop, and other fashion icons amplify its distinctive voice.
Drawing on nostalgia for traditional patriotism and unabashed cheesiness, this bedding brand’s content features its mustachioed founder touting the company’s record of job creation, its Midwestern roots, and a jingle that conjures up the cheery sound of the Forties’ Andrews Sisters.
Bright, crowded product displays with lots of exclamation points appear the moment you click on the link to its homepage, conjuring up the early banner ads of the early 2000s. Video infomercials that point out the product’s features repeatedly run on TV and radio stations that appeal to its largely conservative, middle-aged to senior customer base.
With its trademark swoosh, Nike is all about athleticism with an edge. Leading upward, its logo points the way to a healthier, more progressive future.
Despite the occasional controversy, its brand voice presses on, taking its target customers with it. Its recent embrace of Colin Kaepernick wasn’t the first time the brand risked its revenue with a bold move in pursuit of its customer base.
Its all-out Air Jordan campaign, featuring superstar Michael Jordan, broke a few barriers, too. Crafted in “all black with a red Nike swoosh,” as Bleacher Report’s Doug Merlino points out, the shoes “epitomized cool.”
They also broke the NBA’s rules. Nevertheless, Nike persisted. They paid a $5,000 per-game fine to keep Jordan and his kicks on the court.
The gamble paid off – and turned Jordan into what Merlino calls “the first African-American superstar athlete.” White and Black kids alike idolized him, and parents of all races held him up as a role model.
In the mid-1980s, that across-the-board embrace was a game-changer for civil rights. Nike found its voice.
Now it’s time to narrow your brand voice down. Here are the next steps:
Define Your Voice
Now that you’ve identified your target customers, created customer personas, and looked at a broad range of successful brand voice examples, it’s time to define a voice that speaks to those people in the language and images they relate to.
It’s essential to invite some key stakeholders in your company to your brand voice brainstorming sessions. Go outside of the marketing silo and consult your sales team and anyone involved in creating your products or services for ideas.
Narrow your brand voice down to a few words or ideas. Document it in a prominent place, such as your brand guidelines – and make sure that your content marketing platform provides access to all content creators.
Look at Your Existing Content
After you’ve looked at successful brand voice examples, look at your existing content, as Content Marketing Institute’s Erika Heald advises. Single out all the content that aligns with your brand voice.
Use these pieces of content to base future content on. Think of ways you could repurpose that content into new pieces. Update blog posts with new information and insights, turn blog posts into videos and vice-versa, or use past blog posts as a springboard for new ideas on the same topic.
Make Sure that All Your Content Reflects Your Brand Voice
If you have an editorial team, task them with ensuring that your creative team’s content aligns with your brand voice. Here’s where content collaboration can be your brand voice’s best friend.
Encourage your creative team to run their content by at least one other team member for a fresh pair of eyes and ears to check for brand voice. Beta testing elements in your content, too, can help you identify which version speaks to your target segment best.
Once you have your brand voice, it helps to have all the tools you need to create content that reflects that voice in one place. With DivvyHQ, you have all that and more – from planning to finished content to analytics. Try it free for 14 days or get a personal walkthrough by requesting a quick product overview.