Ever thought about what your brand voice needs to sound like?
Have you written or said things for your business and immediately thought, “Yuck, that doesn’t sound anything like me.” Or worse, that it sounded exactly like you snagged it from someone else’s brand … maybe a little bit because you did? Well, today I am going to be walking you through some brand messaging examples from our previous clients.
Here’s the thing—clients of mine like Jenna Kutcher, Julie Solomon, Beth Kirby, and Katelyn James all have extremely well-known, female-driven brand voice tones and huge audiences that are plugged into their brands watching them every day, soaking up the words and phrases they use.
But when you’re trying to figure out your OWN brand voice—Step 1 to getting comfortable writing your own copy for most creative entrepreneurs—starting from someone else’s voice can make the process take a lot longer than it needs to.
If you’ve ever struggled with getting your brand’s voice on paper—know that I can definitely relate! (Yep, even me, the brand voice girl … ) I was so comfortable chameleoning into my clients voices as a copywriter, that sometimes I felt like I couldn’t find the way I needed to talk in the sea of my clients voices. (More on that later!)
Putting on someone else’s voice and trying to pass it off as your own is going to feel (and SOUND!) contrived. I always think of that moment in The Blind Side where Sandra Bullock tells Michael to ask himself, is this me?
And, yes, you can find inspiration and borrow pieces from the people and brands you admire, but you HAVE to stick with what works for you and what’s natural as you define your brand messaging, and that’s what we’re going to talk about today.
Your brand’s voice is a part of your brand messaging. There are many other parts I walk through inside Copywriting for Creatives™ and help my students figure out, but we’re going to camp out on voice today, because I’ve found one thing that helps the creative entrepreneurs I work with most is having a formula.
When it comes to a brand’s voice, it’s tough to define—we know Nike vs. Target vs. Disney vs. Apple, and we know that each voice sounds different. But what is it that MAKES it different?
Well, in my latest Youtube video, I’m telling you the 3 parts of a brand voice, so you can figure out how to marry that unique personality of yours with the words you type online to market your business by locking in the voice as part of your overall brand messaging., and I’m showing you real-life examples of some of my CfC students and clients who are doing it well.
Alright, let’s go. Here are the Three T’s of finding your brand voice.
No. 1: T E M P O
The first T is tempo.
Tempo is the musical quality or cadence of your voice. Is it sharp and abrupt? Is it flowing and lilting? Do you talk fast? Do you have a slow drawl? Or are you like me, and a fast-talking Southerner. 🙂 Do you speak in long sentences, or have a tendency to use quick, jabbing quips?
But sometimes this is the thing that’s so hard to figure out for yourself. You always see it in other brands—think about it, what’s a brand with a voice you really like, or that makes you smile? (What about that brand voice does it for ya?) I’ll go first and give mine—Glossier! I love how they go back and forth between professionalism and sass. You know I love that combo!
So, honestly, I recommend you take yourself out of it. Get analytical about your choices.
Here’s something fun you can do—and it’s a step behind our client process. When I’m taking on our clients brand voices as a launch and website copywriter, I analyze my their voice tempo (even in how they speak in a phone call or on their Instagram stories)—you can do that yourself by looking at your average sentence length, how big the words are, and what reading level it’s on.
One of the tools you can use to get started is the Hemingway app. You can copy and paste a piece of your writing to see where it lands for most of these statistics.
And, listen, I knooooowww this can be hard—when I say that I know things like this can be hard to spot for yourself, I mean it. I had to bring in someone else to help with this! I actually brought in a copywriter named Justin to help my team and I pinpoint the Ashlyn Writes brand voice because I was getting all in my head about it.
Now I have the stats and guidelines for my brand for things like our standard tempo. I know my brand reverbs back and forth from long sentences to short sentences—even one-word “sentences.” Wink.
No. 2: T E R M I N O L O G Y
The second T is terminology.
How do you know what personality-packed terms punch-up your copy? Venn Diagram style, look for patterns and preferences in your life and see where they intersect with things your ideal target audience would click with.
Remember the whole goal of copywriting is to match the inner dialogue going on in your ideal client or customer’s head—so it’s less important that your copy sound JUST like you, and instead continues the conversation your ideal client or customer is hearing in their head.
It’s a dance, and a delicate balance. We can’t die on the hill of “but I want it to sound like me” if it’s not going to connect with your audience—now, peppering in your voice isn’t really something we want to do either. That can be like the copywriting equivalent of a dubbed video where you know it’s not matching up, but you can’t put your finger on exactly why. We want terminology you say (that your audience would be into) to naturally flow through your copy.
So, you have to align the terminology you use with the concepts (and words!) your audience will resonate with.
Likewise, what mascots or symbols do you want to bring into your brand?
I talk about champagne a lot in my brand as a metaphor for welcoming your clients and customers. Emily Ley talks about pineapples as they’re a symbol of hospitality. Not only are these excellent visual cues for brands, but they can be an excellent extension into the copy of a brand as well. I talked more about this in a recent video about branding—that’s linked here!
No. 3: T O N E
Finally, the last T is tone—I saved the best (and hardest) for last, you’re welcome. 😉
This can get tricky, so I want to simplify it for you: we want to pinpoint your personality, and one way to do this is to think through what adjectives would your friends or dream clients would use to describe you, or say your brand gives off?
An effective tone gets the emotional response you want from your ideal audience.
Your tone can be nerdy, innovative, minimalist, cheerful, whimsical, classic, expensive, dependable, romantic, sassy, patriotic, joyful, shocking, spooky, cool, happy, funny, formal or flirty.
I’ve found personality tests to be helpful tools for gathering a list of adjectives that you can plugin and use when describing your brand’s voice. Since my brand has elements of a personal brand—and it’s likely yours does, too—adjectives that describe me, also describe my brand. Using my results from StrengthsFinder, Enneagram, or Myers-Briggs, all helped me find words that I felt accurately described me and my brand voice.
I think personality-driven branding is so important, so I created a quiz that pinpoints one of 4 archetypes as your own thinking and processing style, and gives you a mini-word bank of adjectives you can use to describe your brand voice.
It was SUCH a fun process to create a quiz that will help you zero in on your personality type—and, if you’re ready to shake things up and get a copy/paste list of words that likely describe your brand personality tone, you should definitely take my quiz!
As you build your creative business and DIY your own message, bank on what makes you unique and different and craft your brand voice from there, that way you know it’ll resonate with the kind of clients you’re looking to reach.
No time to take note of all the golden nuggets in today’s post? Make sure to pin it so you can elevate your brand messaging!