That little voice inside your head. We’ve all got one. We talk with it, it talks back. We debate, dream, argue, discuss, ponder, and chit-chat with it all day long, from the moment we wake up, until the instant our head hits the pillow.
Great brand voices find a way to join the conversation taking place inside our minds. But rather than rudely interrupt, they use personality, charm, wit, and intelligence to tap us on the shoulder, provoke our interest, and entice us to learn more. Legendary ad man Bill Bernbach put it best when he said:
The truth isn’t the truth until people believe you— and they can’t believe you if they don’t know what you’re saying—and they can’t know what you’re saying if they don’t listen to you—and they won’t listen to you if you’re not interesting—and you won’t be interesting unless you say things imaginatively, originally and freshly.
Imaginative, original, and fresh. That’s a tall order, no doubt. But in today’s noisy, crowded marketplace, that’s exactly what a brand voice needs to be to cut through the clutter and command attention. Here are a few ideas to help you make it happen.
1. Think of your product or service as a person.
If your product or service were a person, what qualities would it have? Would it be sweet and innocent? Loud and brash? Chatty and charming? The better you can weave those personality traits into your copy, the more your brand voice will embody the value of your offering.
Take the Prudential ad below, for instance. The voice sounds informed, intelligent, concerned, and just understated enough to convey the confidence of a true expert. Hmm. An informed, intelligent, expert who is concerned about my financial future? I don’t know about you, but that sounds like exactly the kind of person I want helping me manage my money.
2. Don’t be afraid to get real.
Every day, we’re bombarded with thousands of sales and marketing messages. Most of them are completely forgettable. The ones that stand out are usually those that speak plainly and honestly, without the safety net of jargon, cliches, and corporatese. The more “real” you can get with your audience, the more effective your brand voice will be.
Which is why it’s so refreshing when a brand like Roman has the nerve to ditch the formalities and tackle a touchy subject like erectile dysfunction directly, with humor and humanity. Rather than using the clinical medical language of their competitors, they come right out and talk to the customer as if they were sitting at the bar together having a pint and a laugh. The candor resonates.
3. Paint a picture of how life ought to be.
Brands aspire toward ideals. Coca-Cola, Apple, and Nike encourage us to strive toward a life with more happiness, greater creativity, and higher achievement, respectively. From these ideals, they derive a strong brand voice that can speak passionately and authentically—not just about how life is, but how it ought to be. Your brand voice can do the same.
Take the Parachute ad below, for instance. Parachute sells luxury sheets. But rather than simply say, “buy our luxury sheets,” their brand voice urges us to take our foot off the gas pedal of modern life and aspire toward a life more luxurious. The cheekily haughty line “Renounce pants,” says that life in the fast lane isn’t just exhausting, it can be downright uncivilized.
4. Take aim at a common enemy.
Building a brand is about creating difference. It’s about identifying what sets you apart from the competition, and then dramatizing that differentiator in as compelling a way as possible. One way to do that is to identify a common enemy that unites your target audience. When you denounce that enemy, you simultaneously elevate the people you’re looking to reach.
Which is what this Fiverr ad does so well. It’s part of a controversial campaign that celebrates doers: self-made, self-motivated entrepreneurs. By poking fun at dreamers—the antithesis of a doer—Fiverr signals to the market that they’re the company for the no-nonsense bootstrap set. Your brand can’t be all things to all people. Be just as clear about who you’re for, as who you’re not.
5. BONUS: Hijack the voice of your customers themselves.
Crafting a brand voice is essentially about using language to build a bridge to your customers. But what if you could skip the whole “language bridge” thing, and jump straight to the voices of your customers themselves?
That’s exactly what Seamless did in this brilliant campaign, where they creatively leveraged the actual words of their customers to promote their app in a fun, witty campaign. Smart! And very effective. This is a great example of how, when it comes to copywriting, the gold is always hiding in the market itself.
If you need help defining your brand voice, and writing copy that brings it to life, we’ve got you covered. Get in touch today.