Insights from CMWorld 2022: Developing a Relatable, Memorable Brand Voice
- What Is Brand Voice?
- Why Does Brand Voice Matter?
- Why Developing a Relatable, Memorable Brand Voice Is Key
- How Your Voice (and Content) Should Evolve Over Time
- 6 Tips for Developing a Relatable, Memorable Brand Voice
With more than 100 sessions covering a wide range of topics—from developing a brand voice to scaling SEO campaigns—this year’s Content Marketing World was an event we couldn’t miss. That’s why two members of our content team signed up for the CMWorld 2022 Virtual Experience.
And now, we’re sharing some insights we gained with you!
Although all the sessions so far have been great, one keynote, in particular, stood out—“Voice Is the New Logo” from Ann Handley, Chief Content Officer of MarketingProfs. Handley’s presentation was wildly entertaining and educational. It highlighted the importance of developing a brand voice and taking advantage of opportunities to stand out.
If you’ve been struggling to create content that engages your target audience, it may be time to go back to basics and reassess (or find) your brand voice.
What Is Brand Voice?
Brand voice is the unique personality an organization displays in every piece of content. It’s how the content comes across when people read, watch, or listen to it. Moreover, it’s a way of communicating that should be applied consistently across all channels.
A brand voice consists of several elements, including the following:
- Characteristics (i.e., your brand’s personality traits)
- Language (i.e., the vocabulary you use)
- Syntax (i.e., in-house grammar rules)
- Emotion (i.e., the emotions your content evokes)
- Tone (i.e., the shift in mood depending on audience/subject matter)
For many business owners, developing a brand voice seems confusing, complicated, and not worthwhile. (Sound familiar?) In that case, you can trust there’s a lot to gain by putting the work into defining your voice.
Why Does Brand Voice Matter?
Establishing a brand voice is an important part of your content strategy—one that benefits your organization internally and externally.
- It helps build familiarity and trust.
A consistent, authentic brand voice is vital to building familiarity and trust. When you sound the same and inject your personality into every piece of content, people have an easier time getting familiar with your brand. That familiarity allows them to identify your brand on any platform without glancing at your name or logo. The more they see you and notice that your messaging doesn’t waver, the more likely they will trust you.
- It ensures your team is on the same page.
Developing a brand voice also benefits your team members. Chances are, different people in your organization are responsible for different types of content. When they know precisely how the organization should sound to those who read the content, there’s no guesswork involved. They can ensure consistency across all content and platforms.
Why Developing a Relatable, Memorable Brand Voice Is Key
Developing a brand voice that is relatable and memorable allows your organization to forge a deeper connection with your target audience and stand out in an otherwise crowded space.
During her CMWorld 2022 keynote, Handley stressed that a relatable, memorable brand voice is crucial now and moving forward.
Why the emphasis on relatability and memorability?
In this day and age, consistency—though important—isn’t enough. There’s so much noise out there that people are becoming much more selective about what they pay attention to. If your brand voice doesn’t “click” with your target audience, you have little hope of getting them to…
- Engage with your content
- Buy from you
- Become loyal to your brand
The good news, according to Handley, is that each piece of content presents an opportunity to create an “It’s Me!” moment. This refers to any moment at which someone sees themselves in your content. You'll receive much better engagement if you use your brand voice to create content that truly resonates with your audience.
Note: Brands are finding more creative ways to do this. Just consider how many have partnered with creators and influencers on social media.
How Your Voice (and Content) Should Evolve Over Time
Once your brand voice has been defined, you may be tempted to keep it that way indefinitely. But this isn’t the way to go. In fact, this is something else Handley talked about in her CMWorld 2022 keynote.
Your content and brand voice should evolve over time.
It’s critical to staying relevant in an ever-changing world. Everything evolves over time—your business, society, audience expectations, etc. If you fail to adjust what you’re doing to reflect current realities, you’ll push away those you want to engage.
So, it’s essential to review your brand voice regularly to ensure you’re still communicating appropriately and creating content that works. If you put your brand voice guidelines in a style guide (which we recommend), dust it off at least once a year. You should also revisit it during any major event or company rebranding.
6 Tips for Developing a Relatable, Memorable Brand Voice
1) Consider Your Mission and Values
Your organization’s mission and values can provide a great starting point for developing a brand voice. They can help you remember who you are, what you do, why you do it, and how it benefits those you serve. As these make up the foundation of your brand, it makes sense that your voice should reflect them.
2) Come Up with Three Characteristics
When it comes to finding your brand voice, Ann Handley recommends selecting three characteristics that describe your brand. For example, if you’re a pet toy manufacturer, you may describe your brand as funny, playful, and laid-back. The idea is to come up with adjectives that fit the voice you’re trying to convey.
3) Speak to Your Target Audience
It’s also important that your brand voice speaks to your target audience. Keep in mind this doesn’t just apply to the language you use. (That said, be careful to avoid outdated/unfamiliar slang.) As mentioned previously, you also want your voice and content to resonate with people and lead to an “It’s Me!” moment.
4) Aim for Authenticity
Brand authenticity isn’t something you can afford to overlook (or fake). Today’s consumers expect it from brands. So, be transparent and consistent with all of your communications. Otherwise, you risk going ignored—or worse, earning a reputation for being unreliable or dishonest.
5) Find Inspiration from Creators You Love
As you start developing a brand voice, look outside your organization and even your industry for inspiration. You can find it anywhere, but it’s worth reading, watching, or listening to content from creators you love. Think about whose voice really sings to you and go from there.
We read it and we try to figure out why does this really engage us or why does it not?Ann Handley, “Voice Is the New Logo,” CMWorld 2022
6) Don’t Be Afraid to Get Creative
There are plenty of opportunities to carve out a recognizable brand voice in a unique way. You just have to get creative. Handley began (and ended) her keynote by talking about Stranger Things’ use of closed captioning, which was wildly popular. That’s because viewers found them funny and recognized that a real person wrote them.
If there was one takeaway from Ann Handley’s CMWorld 2022 keynote, it’s this: Developing a brand voice that people find relatable and memorable is more important than ever. It’s the only way you’ll be able to grab the attention of your target audience and get them to engage. Standing out from the crowd will only become more challenging, but by embracing your unique brand voice and redefining it as time goes on, you’ll be in a much better position to thrive.
Stay tuned for more insights from CMWorld 2022 in our next blog!