These are truly exciting times for brand communications. The emergence of real-time, accessible channels to amplify our message opens up opportunities that we’ve simply never had before. However, the very advantages that make these times exciting also make them challenging: with more channels, better tools, smarter technology, and lower barriers to entry comes a sense of saturation. Our audiences feel overwhelmed, at the very least.
In the midst of all this information chaos and overexposure, only those brands that learn to speak humanely will grab their intended listeners’ attention. We find ourselves in an era where brands are either enticing or imperceptible. Compelling or invisible. Honest or ignored. Simply “bearable” will no longer stand.
That’s why it’s become so crucial to figure out what it is that makes your story unique and share it in an equally distinctive voice. If you’re trying to build a memorable brand voice that conveys your key values and messages, I’ve created this exercise to support your process. Read on to learn a simple brand personality exercise that you can use in any industry.
3 Steps to a Genuine, Distinctive Brand Voice
While there is no single method to define a unique brand voice, this is the one I’ve used with hundreds of entrepreneurs from all kinds of professional backgrounds. It consists of 3 main steps:
- Select personality traits that capture the brand’s humane character
- List the different types of emotions that your brand must convey on a day-to-day basis.
- Fill a word bank with expressions, phrases, and responses that fit each of those emotions.
The end result is not only an inventory of your brand’s most salient personality traits and overarching voice, but also a set of concrete terms to use in scenarios that call for different tones. Let’s go over each of these steps in more detail. You can download the high-resolution worksheets to complete this exercise in the box below:
Step 1: Selecting Brand Personality Traits
Use this brand personality inventory to mark individual traits that match the voice with which you want to communicate with your audience. Should your messages sound eccentric or conservative? Intellectual or flirtatious? Hopefully, by the time you’re done filling out this inventory, you’ll have more clarity around the kinds of human characteristics you’d like your brand to portrait. People relate to people and, if your brand feels like people, they’ll relate to you too.
Step 2: Listing Key Brand Emotions
What kinds of emotions does your brand express on a regular basis? I’ve created a list of 12 basic ones to get you started: Interested, Grateful, Confused, Funny, Regretful, Hopeful, Sad, Happy, Serene, Reassuring, Surprised, and Excited. Feel free to add any others or remove some of the ones already in here.
Step 3: Creating a List of Words & Phrases for Each Tone
Once you have selected the emotions typically associated with your business, come up with words and phrases that capture your brand’s ideal response.
After completing this exercise, you’ll have a clear description your brand’s personality, an overarching voice to dictate its messaging, and an applicable list of expressions for each tone it will have to communicate in.
I hope this simple exercise has helped you narrow down what it is that makes your brand distinctive, and has also given you the tools to project that voice in every conversation it holds — even adapting tone to fit different scenarios. I’d love to hear more about how your company is using this tool; feel free to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.