Marketwired Blog

Make your small business play with the big boys, part three: establishing your brand’s voice

By Karen Geier

Last week, we talked about getting your visual elements of branding off the ground. This week, I’m going to help you find your brand’s voice, and develop your ‘Tone and Manner’ document.

What is a Brand’s Voice?

Your brand voice is not just a list of “words you don’t say” or canned responses, it’s the way your brand communicates directly with customers. It’s a natural extension of your brand promise and your brand’s visual style.

Have a look at the Facebook Posts of Skittles vs. those of Starbucks. They are very different, but stay true to the general style of how they approach their customers.

Just like each person has a different personality and speaking pattern depending on location, education and vocation, (did you know that whether you call carbonated beverages “soda” or “pop” depends on your geographic location as a child?) so should your brand.

You’ve already decided on the basic brand attributes if you read part one of this series. In our example, the brand attributes for our upscale dog groomer were:





There are plenty of reference materials for this type of writing: fashion magazines. If you’re unsure, have a look at brands similar to what you want yours to be and try to make note of special language, phrases, jargon, or quirks to their writing. This will form the framework of what you’re going to put together.

In our dog groomer example, there are options. You can stick with a very “fashion editorial” sound, or you could go with a cheekier “fashionista” sound.

Fashion Editorial:

“Diva Mutts: go beyond canine style”

vs. Fashionista: 

“Diva Mutts: where glam pooches get fabulous”

The difference just between these two slogans is noticeable. This is where you’ll have to try a few things to see what fits.

Know Your Media

While the core voice is important to maintain, keep in mind that there will be differences in tone required for different media. Some general guidelines:

Social Media: make it more conversational, but keep it brief. You need to bite-size your language.

Email: You need a great subject line, header, short body copy and a call-to-action. You have some freedom in the way you leverage these pieces, but any e-mails you send out in a marketing capacity need these three things. Keep it less conversational than your social media approach.

Print: This is your best bet as print tends to allow for the most space, so you have the opportunity to go further. Keep it under 200 words for maximum effectiveness.

Putting it into action

When writing, it’s important to keep in mind that the only way you’ll know what works is by trying it out. You should practise writing, getting input from people who you respect. If you’ve planned the rest of your brand pieces correctly and put the time into thinking the brand through, writing out your idea should be easier – not easy but easier. Make sure you put yourself in the position of the customer, and assume no prior knowledge.

Now that we’ve taken you through the three basics of building a brand, you should have a solid, professional foundation as you build your business.

Karen Geier is the Co-Founder of Previously she was a digital marketing executive, most recently with Ogilvy. Karen previously headed up Social Media strategy for Canadian start up Kobo, and has consulted for start ups, and fortune 500 companies.

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