At this point, I can recognize the short, humorous, memorable ad copy as a Herb ad without even needing to see the brand name.
And, after years of seeing those ads, I feel like I know the Herb brand, and can describe it like an old friend: He’s funny, likes a good pun, and doesn’t take himself too seriously.
Now that’s the power of brand voice: the power to make your brand come to life.
Consumers prefer brands with strong, unique personalities. In Sprout Social’s 2020 Index, for instance, 40% of consumers listed memorable content as a factor that helps brands stand out on social; 33% voted for distinct personality; and 32% said compelling storytelling.
What do memorable content, distinct personality, and compelling storytelling have in common? Brand voice.
Here, let’s explore what brand voice is, and examples of some of the most powerful brand voices today. Plus, how you can create your own.
What is brand voice?
When a friend calls you, consider — beyond the name that appears on caller ID — how do you know it’s her?
More likely than not, you can deduce this information from how she speaks. The common phrases she uses, how she tells a story, her tone and inflection, and even what information she chooses to include (and exclude) in a given sentence all highlight her unique voice and personality.
Alternatively, think about the last time you chatted with a stranger. In mere minutes, I bet you start to get a sense for their personality. Through a brief conversation, you can start to deduce whether they’re outgoing or shy, serious or funny, and more.
Ultimately, a person’s voice is synonymous with their personality, as it relates to how they communicate.
And brand voice isn’t much different.
Brand voice is the personality your brand takes on in all of its communications.
Brand voice is a critical factor for creating consistency across communication channels, regardless of who creates the content. For instance, brands with strong voice will sound the same on social media, email communications, and blog posts — even if three different teams create content for those channels.
Good brand voice makes your brand stand out from the noise, and helps consumers remember and relate to your brand. This, in turn, creates stronger brand loyalty.
Plus, brand voice can help attract new prospects before they even learn about your product or services.
For instance, consider the humor used in MoonPie’s social posts:
Before I’d even purchased a MoonPie for the first time, I followed them on Twitter. Why? Because I liked the brand’s voice — it made me laugh, and felt relatable.
Of course, a brand voice doesn’t have to be funny to be powerful. Other powerful brand voices can be inspiring, emotional, bold, casual, formal, poetic, or direct.
To see this in-action, let’s take a look at some impressive examples of brand voice, next.
Brand Voice Examples
Whether you’re watching a TV ad, driving past a billboard, or scrolling Spotify’s social accounts, you’ll see consistently funny, edgy, direct, and concise language used to develop Spotify’s brand voice.
For instance, take a look at this video, which is part of a Spotify advertisement campaign from 2019, ‘Let the Song Play’:
As you can see, Spotify doesn’t take itself too seriously. The ad makes fun of people who get so emotionally-invested in a song that they won’t resume their plans until the song ends.
You’ll see a similar brand voice play out on Spotify’s social channels. On its Twitter account, for instance, the brand often posts tweets related to new music in a casual, friendly manner, like this one:
If I were to describe Spotify’s brand voice as a person, I’d say she’s witty, sarcastic, and up-to-date on today’s pop culture references. You’ll see that personality play out across all of Spotify’s communication channels.
For this next example, we can look at Mailchimp’s Content Style Guide to derive important information related to Mailchimp’s brand voice.
In the Style Guide, Mailchimp writes, “We want to educate people without patronizing or confusing them. Using offbeat humor and a conversational voice, we play with language to bring joy to their work … We don’t take ourselves too seriously.”
Even in the Style Guide, you can hear Mailchimp’s brand voice shine through. The brand consistently achieves a conversational, direct, playful voice in all its content.
For instance, in this blog post, the brand writes about various “highly unscientific personas”, including the fainting goat, which links out to a hilarious video. “When startled, its muscles stiffen up and it falls right over”, strikes the appropriate casual tone that is a staple of the brand’s voice.
As you can see from this example, you can evoke brand voice in subtle yet effective ways. If the blogger had instead written, “If a goat is scared, it becomes nervous. The animal’s muscles contract and it faints as a result”, the writer would’ve evoked a voice more aligned with a scientific journal than Mailchimp.
- Fenty Beauty
On the About Us page for Rihanna’s beauty company, it says, “Before she was BadGalRiRi: music, fashion and beauty icon, Robyn Rihanna Fenty was a little girl in Barbados transfixed by her mother’s lipstick. The first time she experienced makeup for herself, she never looked back. Makeup became her weapon of choice for self-expression.”
It’s clear, even just through this short snippet, that Fenty Beauty’s voice is bold, direct, and poetic, using language like “transfixed by her mother’s lipstick” and “her weapon of choice for self-expression”. However, the tone is also undeniably casual — the way you might talk to your best friend.