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Speak Now and Forever Hold Your Audience

The pivotal role your brand’s voice plays in consumer relations.

By Samuel Cook, Online Content Specialist for Kearley & Company.

Imagine this: your phone rings. A well-known number shows up on the screen so you pick it up. But when you pick it up, you realize someone you don’t know is speaking on the other end—and you can tell because their voice is completely different than the one you expected to hear.

We know each other by our distinct voices. Every human’s voice is 100% specific to them. Biologically speaking, the larynx, vocal tract and more than 10 other body parts are involved in making someone’s voice absolutely unique. But more importantly, a person’s personality plays a very integral role in making his or her voice special.

Brands are the same way. Brands deserve distinct voices that set them apart and make them recognizable. Just as you would know your best friend’s voice, audiences should be able to recognize their favorite brand’s voice in any setting – whether its a commercial, a social media post, or a community event.

Prior to joining Kearley & Company, I worked in public relations at the internationally known non-profit, Mothers Against Drunk Driving. They’ve been around since the year 1980 and their voice, although it’s matured, grown, and shifted as times change around them, is still uniquely their own. It remains the somber, straightforward voice of a brand that stands against drunk driving and has done so for almost four decades.

When I would write social media posts, this is the voice I would use to speak. When I would draft press releases, this is the voice I would use to write. And when we were involved in our community, this brand persona was the one we consulted when deciding how we would craft these community events.

There are several factors that play a role in a brand’s voice: history, mission, and audience.

Your brand’s history defines its voice, arguably more than anything else. How has your brand been perceived in the past? What does the public think when they see your logo? If this needs to change, how much? Brand voices can mature and they can change shape as time goes on. But the one caveat to this is that if your brand’s voice changes too much too quickly, your audience may become confused and your brand could eventually lose its rapport with your audience.

Your brand’s mission defines how you speak as well. For example, if your mission as a credit union is to help people save, help them to grow and help them to succeed—your voice would be a protective, supportive one rather than a joking, fun-loving voice. Craft your voice based on what you want people to project onto your brand once they hear it.

Your brand’s audience is paramount when determining how you sound when speaking to them. What defines your audience? Are they Gen Z or Millennials? Are they blue-collar workers or executives? Are they urban or rural? Understanding who is listening is the first step in realizing how you want to speak.

All of these play a huge role in determining how best to reach your audience and how best to speak to your audience. In my tenure at MADD, I could not bring myself to make jokes on our social media feeds as brands like Taco Bell or Charmin can. Why? Because our mission shaped our voice. Historically, MADD has always had the same mission and thus has had the same voice. And finally, our audience had become familiar with our voice. They trusted it. They knew it.

So how will you craft your voice? And if your brand’s voice is already crafted, does it need an update? Finally, if you and your company’s leadership are happy with the voice you have, how are you best going to use it to communicate with your audience?

Make sure your voice stays the same no matter what medium you are using to speak, and consumers will know your brand is one they can count on.

Samuel Cook is the Online Content Specialist at Kearley & Company, a full-service marketing and branding firm specializing in financial institutions and small to medium sized businesses. He joined the team in early 2018 coming from Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD)® where he served as their national Communications Coordinator and participated in social media promotion, national public relations initiatives, and advertising campaigns.

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