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Brand Voice: Every Company Needs its Own Language and Tone

By Michael Randall

“What do you do?”

This is a question everyone hears and asks and it seems simple enough to answer. But too often this question leaves executives and employees tongue tied.

While it is important that all employees know how to answer the what-do-you-do question with clarity and confidence in what we call the “brand voice,” too many people—particularly those who work at B2B companies–can’t clearly state their expertise or their brand’s value proposition. Their voice and, therefore, their personal and corporate positioning, are weak.

Positioning is the definition of the unique space a company owns. Brand voice is the articulation of a company’s purpose. Positioning and voice are elements of strong brands. Still, entrepreneurs often hate to state a purpose for fear of limiting their options and losing a prospect. Many would rather say “we’ll do that” as they are building a business even though they may have heard many times that “the narrower the focus the stronger the brand.” Even large, established companies often lose the ability to state in a clear and compelling way what they offer the world. For instance, during a recent discovery process with a new, global client our team at BrandingBusiness noted that executives, directors, and management all gave different answers to the most basic questions, such as: What business are you in? What makes you unique? Why do your customers choose you? In a series of working sessions and one-on-one interviews the answer we heard repeatedly was: “It depends.”

Brand voice, which informs messaging, taglines and all communications, is as important as visual identity to every company. How to find or reclaim it? It’s important for every company to have a positioning statement and personality attributes before crafting the words and expressions that are used regularly and make up—yes—a brand dictionary.

Companies should create statements for many different scenarios that may include formal (boilerplate) and informal (elevator pitch) statements that can be used in written and oral presentations. Then it’s important to create audience specific messages.

Here are a few questions it is important for companies to ask and answer when creating a simple corporate narrative:

• Who are we?
• What business are we in?
• What words and expressions make up our proprietary brand dictionary?
• Who are our customers and what do we say to them?
• What unique benefits do we deliver?

While more work is necessary to craft messaging that will help employees speak with a single voice and tone, this exercise should help get companies beyond “it depends.” And, often, business depends very much on that.