Your brand voice should be heard inside and outside your company. Ellen Widdup explains why language – and the way it is used in external and internal communications - is one of your biggest brand-building weapons.
Your brand voice defines what your company values are which makes it invaluable to your customers. But it’s just as important to make sure your employees are given the same treatment. Good internal communications is key to ensuring your brand voice is heard inside and outside your company. After all, when everyone speaks in one voice with one shared point of view, you can be sure that your employees are embracing and adopting the business values and attributes which means they will pass these on to your customers.
Your unique brand helps people to quickly identify your business. It encompasses all the things people associate with it - from its name, colours, logo and slogan to its tone of voice and vocabulary. It is every interaction a person has with your company, from the first time they learn your company name to the last conversation they had with your customer service representative.Externally, your brand should create a specific perception of your product or service with customers, and have an emotional appeal. Internally, it gives you a focus point for your business. After all, how you say something is just as important as what it is you are saying.
Your brand voice can be authoritative, informative, formal, light-hearted, witty, funny. Often you can work out a company’s brand voice just by looking at their advertising materials, website or brand design.
Here are some good examples:
Innocent DrinksTheir tone is fun, relaxed and friendly. They are demonstrating that they do not take themselves too seriously. They use phrases like “helping people live well and die old”.
Goldman SachsThe brand voice here is informative and formal. It demonstrates authority, professionalism and experience but it is not complicated. In fact, it is easy to understand and jargon has been banned. The idea is that clients feel the firm is trustworthy, reputable and intelligent and they feel reassured with leaving money in their hands for investment.
These businesses ensure that their brand voice is authentic. But how?
In order to create an authentic company brand, businesses need to work hard on using the same brand voice with their employees.Innocent Drinks is likely to send out light-hearted emails internally, have a fun and engaging newsletter and encourage staff to adopt the relaxed approach to communications. Goldman Sachs however, is likely to have a more formal newsletter, informative but free from jargon so staff see their brand voice in action.It is unified internal and external communications that helps make them so successful.
The likelihood is that you know what it is your company is trying to say to its clients but you are not sure how to translate this into something your employees can adopt too.
Here are some tips:
1. Start with your newsletterYour internal newsletter is a good place to start when introducing your brand voice into your internal communications. It will help get your staff used to seeing a unified approach to writing and talking. You can then encourage them to emulate this style in everything they send within the company - from briefs, reports and memos all the way down to emails. The idea is to make them feel like they are part of a team – a unified front – which in turn will give them pride and engagement in the company.
2. Help your staff understand the brandThink about teaching your employees more about your brand's history or story. This could be about how a business first started, who the people are that run it, or the idea behind a product. Employees who understand what drives the brand will be more likely to pick up its messages and be able to copy its presentation style.
3. Train staff to recognise messages that are in-line with the brand.This will encourage sensitivity to their writing. Any time that an employee spends thinking about how to correctly implement the tone of voice is time well spent toward understanding and living the overall brand.
4. Ask for your employees’ opinionSpeak to your staff about what the brand means to them. This will also give you insight into how your customer sees it. You might find that you need to work on lots of elements of the brand – from it’s design and logo to its press and publicity – to ensure everyone sees it the way you want them to.
5. Unify all your documentsDoes your company website and sales literature paint a picture of a warm, friendly business that values its customers? But does your employee handbook read like a scientific manual that is cold and officious? If so, consider getting the help of a copywriter to ensure all your publications are written with your brand voice in mind.
6. Apply a personal touchJust as your external communications agency will run an email campaign that addresses each recipient on a one-to-one basis, your internal communications should do the same. Consider talking in the first person instead of the third.
Language – and the way it is used - is one of your biggest brand-building weapons. Yes, you can make a beautiful TV ad, have a big, bold billboard, a glistening new logo, letterheads in matching colours but it is one-to-one daily conversation that is most important. This is because customers recognise good service in uniformity, continuity, consistency and the meeting of expectations. You can only do this by ensuring everyone within your business is on the same page.The truth is, if a company's staff doesn't speak, write or behave in line with what the customer has been led to expect, then he will feel let down.
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