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Finding Your Small Business’s Tone of Voice

3 Mins read

Every company and business, whether they are aware of it or not, has a brand voice. That brand voice may not be well-defined or consistent, but it’s there—influencing the market and ultimately influencing their bottom lines. A well-defined brand tone of voice is integral to a brand’s success. Think of when you have a conversation with someone. Their body language, words, and vocal tone set the stage for how you feel about what they’re saying or sometimes towards that person in general.

Brand tone of voice works much the same way, and by analyzing your target audience and speaking directly to them, you can elevate your brand and your business. A consistent tone of voice will help you not only reach a target audience but also set your brand apart from competitors who are trying to garner the attention of the same consumers.

So how does one find and define their brand tone of voice? The approach involves analyzing your core audience and your business to find out who you are as a brand and what you want to say to the world.

Who are you?

To find their tone of voice, brands need to get existential and figure out who they really are. What is their purpose, their “why,” and their goal?

Evaluating their target audience is the first and most important thing brands need to do to find their brand voice. Without knowing who your target audience is, you won’t know what voice will speak to those people and ultimately guide them toward engaging with your brand. Leaders should ask themselves several questions when analyzing the market to find “their” customers. What are the target demographics? Who is your ideal customer? What do those people do for fun? What do they read, watch, listen to, or wear? Diving deep into the answers to these questions will help you recognize patterns and guide you toward a brand voice that will resonate with those people.

One example of a company that knows its audience and gives them exactly what they want is Trader Joe’s. Their aesthetic is very natural, organic, and modern. They know who is most likely to shop at their stores, so they stock products, release content, and design their branding to appeal to those people. The people who work at Trader Joe’s fit the aesthetic and the brand feel as well. You can tell that whoever is crafting the brand voice for Trader Joe’s is paying attention to the target audience.

The target audience is just one part of a brand’s overall identity. This identity will come to define the brand voice, and it is important that leaders have intimate knowledge of their brand identity. Who is the company serving? What problems is the business trying to solve? What are the business values or overall mission? In addition to knowing the target audience, leadership should be able to answer these bigger questions about brand identity as well, in order to zero in on a brand tone of voice.

The people matter

As we’ve seen, the target audience is wildly important in terms of identifying brand voice. However, the people who work for your company are also important factors in brand voice. When hiring for your business, you should take the time to get to know candidates on a deeper level than just their past experience or what their resume has to say. You should see how closely they align with all the factors you pinpointed when evaluating your brand identity and target audience.

When thinking about brands that have clearly defined, successful brand voices, they often have a staff that completely encapsulates that brand voice. Think about Apple Store employees, Target associates, or Starbucks baristas. All of these employees align well with the overall brand voice of their employers.

Past content

A business always has a voice in one way or another, they may just not realize it. By looking at past content, such as blog posts, social media posts, or images, a business can start to see patterns in voice that can lead them to identify their organic brand tone. Businesses should look at which past content received the most engagement, the best reception — or the worst — and take into account those factors before landing on what is working and what is not.

The natural, organic consistencies in past content can guide a brand towards a voice that is more authentic and more likely to define the brand naturally.

Defining a brand tone of voice can be a study to recognize what the entire goal of one’s business may be. Perhaps one has never analyzed their business so deeply, but there is a wealth of useful information that can be gleaned from such a deep dive. When one lands on a well-defined tone of voice, they are sure to expect an uptick in meaningful engagement from their target audience, as well as a clearly defined separation from the competition.

Amanda Reseburg is a writer at Otter PR.

Trader Joes stock image by Wild As Light/Shutterstock

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