Sales & Marketing

Psychology and data insights can help SMEs build a successful brand voice

8 min read

27 September 2018

Further Digital Marketing's Tabby Farrar spills the magic beans on creating an engaging brand voice and understanding who your customer is.

Figuring out the most appropriate and engaging voice for your brand is no small feat. A distinctive, consistent brand voice is what will make your business memorable. If you haven’t yet defined your ideal brand voice, communication across multiple channels can become muddled, and opportunities to engage with your ideal audience can be missed.

When deciding on the right voice for your brand, it’s important to do proper research into what will achieve the best results. Here are some pointers below to get you thinking about how to create a new, exciting, and psychologically engaging brand voice.

Fun branding is allowed

In the last few years, an increasing number of brands have adopted playful and humorous voices in their marketing and other communications, with funny and irreverent Innocent Smoothies-style copy spotted in industries from e-commerce to insurance. But how can you be confident you’re getting it right?

Remember, your customers aren’t robots

Although you may think you know who your customers are, more often than not, there are surprises to be found in Google Analytics, customer surveys – and social media conversations.

“If your brand was a person, how would you describe them to someone? How would they speak when interacting with the kinds of audience members found in your research?”

So, rather than creating a single persona of the ideal customer, use smart and data-driven insights to create a selection of people who accurately represent your audience, then, think about voices that will win each of them over.

Look to data and get smart insights about your audience

Creation of an effective brand voice shouldn’t start with guesswork any more than the creation of a content marketing strategy or PPC strategy should.

It’s easy to sit in a meeting room speculating about who your audience is, but audience insights give you facts to digest that could be the difference between choosing goofy colloquial messaging or a much more formal take on a friendly tone.

Customer personality, or ‘persona’

These audience facts or ‘personas’ include mockups of what ‘character archetype’  your customer is, including what they like. Customer personas allow you to create content and communications that genuinely appeal to your target audience.

Through basic data analysis, you can personalise your marketing to suit different sections of your audience, not just appealing with the right product at the right time, but doing it in the right style too. Consider the below points when thinking about what your customer persona might be:

• Age, gender and relationship status
• Working background
• General lifestyle, for example, hobbies and interests
• Everyday challenges and pain points
• Where they go for information and advice
• Other brands that they use and like

When you consider your personas, establish whether these people are best reached through formal or informal copy, plain or poetic language, a playful tone or matter-of-fact messaging. Your brand voice should accurately convey the personality that you feel your brand has, in a way that makes sense to the personalities of your audience.

Psychology for ‘dummies’

There are a few basic points from popular psychology that all brands should be aware of when deciding how to communicate with their audiences.

From avoiding jargon that might make the reader feel stupid to including industry terms, or even everyday slang that could make them feel comfortable and in-the-know, whatever you want the audience to feel, it can’t be denied that the psychology of language has an important part to play in brand voice creation.

“Graphic designers use colour psychology to establish appropriate marketing imagery and logos, but the psychology of language often falls by the wayside when it comes to brand voice”.

Whatever your style, brand language should appeal to a reader’s or viewer’s emotions. People relate to feelings such as success, struggle, to happiness and frustration. Part of creating an effective brand voice is establishing which emotions people should feel when they read, see or hear something from your brand.

Make your language ‘colourful’

If you want your copy to feel inspiring or exciting, use action verbs and short phrases to create a punchy, motivational feel. If your brand voice is more relaxed and easy-going, longer sentences that can be read with flowing intonations may be more appropriate.

Customer personas should help you to establish which emotions will most appeal to your target audience, and though these will differ throughout the conversion funnel, it’s important to define which emotions your voice might elicit, and which should be avoided.

Make your communications crystal clear

Without a clear set of brand voice guidelines, you run the risk that your multi-channel communications might become disjointed. From email and social to on-site copy and offline advertising, each and every piece of content that represents your brand should speak with the same voice – even if the tone within changes to suit the topic at hand.

Aside from anything else, being able to hand over guidelines to new writers or to editors streamlines training, and saves time when onboarding new staff. Guidelines should include words and phrases to avoid and a description of each of your brand’s characteristics. 

Your brand style is exclusive to your company, so get passionate 

As with anything in marketing, it’s important not to see brand voice as something that you create once and leave on the shelf. As your company changes and adapts, revisit your guidelines regularly and decide whether certain attributes are working well or could be improved upon.

Brands like Old Spice have shown that a new voice can be all it takes to breathe life back into a tired brand, switching their image from old-timey relic to must-have millennial product in an instant – and you can do the same.

All you need is a little research and consideration in order to define the perfect voice for your brand, after that, just sit back and watch it soar.

Tabby Farrar is an outreach specialist for Further Digital Marketing