Brand Voice Guide and Exercise

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Brand voice is a critical part of marketing and business communication. Companies with a consistent voice are more memorable and relatable than brands without a voice. Below is a brief introduction on why voice matters and a valuable exercise to identify and communicate your brand voice.

Why Does Brand Voice Matter?

Developing a brand voice is improves the quality of your brand’s content, marketing, and communication. It provides three main benefits: it makes you more relatable, memorable, and consistent.

Relatable – people are generally distrustful of brands. By adding some personality to your brand, you make your business feel more like a person than an unfeeling corporation. If people identify with a company’s perceived personality, they are more likely to trust them and develop a long-term relationship with them.

Memorable – in a world with ever-increasing amounts of advertising and online content, it is more important than ever to have a memorable brand presence. Adding more voice to your brand will make your work more distinct and attractive, increasing the chance that consumers will remember your brand.

Consistent – have you ever been browsing a company website and encountered a page that is an entirely different tone? For example, you are on a website that sells toys, but you find an article that is serious and technical? It is off-putting and makes the brand experience feel dishonest. An inconsistent voice also appears unprofessional, as it gives the impression that you have not put effort into polishing your communication.

Brand Voice Exercise – Fictional Character Personality Quiz

Open Psychometrics offers a free quiz for people to identify which fictional character shares their personality traits. Here is a link to their personality quiz:

https://openpsychometrics.org/tests/characters/

Feel free to complete the quiz for yourself if you are curious. It is not necessary for this exercise, but it may help you learn how this tool works.

For the brand voice exercise, complete the quiz as if you were your business. If your brand was a real person, how would they answer these questions? Feel free to skip questions that are difficult to answer. Finishing the quiz should take less than 10 minutes.

When you are complete, the website will ask you to complete an additional few questions to improve the algorithm. Feel free to skip this.

It may take a couple of minutes for the results to display. Once the processing is complete, the website will provide you a list of fictional characters that match your brand’s personality, with #1 being the closest match. You can also click on character names to learn more about them if you don’t recognize them. These pages will also provide detailed information about the ways your profile overlaps with the character.

The page with your results is shareable. You can save the link or copy it and send it to others. This will allow others to view your results and see which characters your company is aligned with. 

Why Fictional Characters are Useful for Communicating Brand Voice

While this exercise is simple, it has several benefits. First, it gives a tangible example of what your brand voice is. Describing brand voice can be challenging, as you often use vague words like “intelligent,” “refined,” or “caring.” “Gandalf” or “Dumbledore” communicate those qualities in a concrete, relatable, and memorable manner. 

Simplifying brand voice explanations is particularly handy when working with contractors and freelancers. It is unrealistic to expect them to read a comprehensive brand guide, but explaining “Our voice is similar to Gandalf” should be sufficient.

Having a concrete example also allows contributors to study the characters. By searching the internet for clips or quotes, you can answer questions such as:

  • How do they speak? Do they use complicated words? Long sentences? Do they use slang or technical terminology?
  • The personality of the character can also inform writing. Are they confident? Formal? Friendly? Fictional characters tend to have a small handful of dominant traits, which can be integrated into your brand voice.
  • Use humor is critical. Someone’s sense of humor often leaves a strong impression. How often does the character tell jokes? Do they use witty wordplay or low-brow humor? Are they sarcastic? A brand that masters its use of humor can be very relatable and memorable.

Finally, having a character may help in audience targeting. Imagine you sell a piece of technology targeted at educated men with a rebellious side. Walter White from Breaking Bad is a popular character for this demographic. By using Walter White as voice inspiration, you have a better chance to resonate with your target audience. If your top-ranked characters do not appeal to your target audience, you should consider adjusting your brand’s voice. 

This exercise is meant as an inspiration for a brand’s voice. It is impossible to write everything with the same personality as a fictional character. Contributors should not take this concept too literally – it is unrealistic to guess the exact wording Obi-Wan Kenobi would use to describe a TV set – but it provides a helpful benchmark. Having a concrete standard will make conversations about brand voice more practical and focused. 

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