When most people think of the word ‘brand’, they immediately think of visual aesthetics – logo, colors, design. “I really like their branding!” often signifies “I like the look of this brand!”. Similarly, visual design often takes center stage within marketing departments. The words that brands use – their brand voice – don’t get the same attention. With verbal and written communication being the primary way that a person will interact with brands, proper brand voice becomes an integral part of good brand strategy.
Many companies write their messaging on auto-pilot, rarely stopping to evaluate the words they are using and how those are translating their brand. A good brand voice is hard to get right and hard to replicate across your brand’s verbal and written communication, but it’s important. What makes a good brand voice? A good brand voice is intentional, cohesive, consistent, meaningful, and coherent.
Intentional: Intentional messaging uses words that capture the essence of what you offer customers, words that you’d want your customers to say about your brand. Brands, like great singers, are most interesting when they don’t sound like anyone else. There was no one in the world that sounded like Billie Holiday, and there can be only one you. Your brand needs to sing in a way that it is instantly recognizable.
Cohesive: A brand isn’t just a collection of things – logo, words, visual design – it’s the comprehensive experience of all those things. Brand messaging should be cohesive with your visuals, both assets telling the same story but complementing each other in a way that elevates both.
Consistent: A company’s voice should sound the same across all of its mediums – social media, email newsletters, website.. No matter where your consumers interact with your brand, they should know it’s you.
Meaningful: Words should never be chosen simply for how they sound. They need to be backed by action and reality. Empty words and promises may sound good on the surface but can create a disconnect with consumers once they go deeper and find that your brand actions don’t match your verbal brand promise.
Coherent: Most importantly, a brand’s messaging needs to actually say something instead of just being a bunch of words strung together. We often come across brand messaging full of jargon and buzzwords that rarely mean anything, and your end users walk away still unsure of what the company actually does and what it stands for.
First Harvest Credit Union: A Voice With Purpose
When we worked with South Jersey Federal Credit Union on their rebrand, we spent months talking about what they wanted to evoke with their communications. What does a financial institution in the 21st century need to sound like? What do their customers want from them? From a small, regionally-bound credit union, they became First Harvest – A Better Place to Grow. Their messaging centers on their members cultivating brighter futures for themselves and their families.
Their voice is intentional: everything they say is in service to the dreams their members bring to FHCU. Their voice is cohesive: their message is more personal and powerful to match their updated visual language. Their voice is consistent: at the introduction of their new brand, the organization updated their entire suite of marketing collateral to match. Their voice is meaningful: no longer is FHCU mired in words like ‘solutions’ and the like. And their voice is coherent: FHCU thought critically about why a rebrand made sense for them. They wanted the change to mean something more than just “We wanted a different name and look.” By focusing on what they really do well (personal approach, long-term vision), they have a voice that resonates with members looking for a credit union who lives those credos.
Your Brand Voice Matters
Your brand’s voice has the power to shape the end user’s experience for the better. It’s the most versatile tool in your branding toolbox, and its benefits cut across your entire organization. Developing your brand voice so that it’s intentional, cohesive, consistent, meaningful, and coherent is the most effective way to control your brand’s narrative and leave a lasting impression.