Are you making these brand voice mistakes?
by Darlene Veenhuizen
We’ve talked about what brand voice is and why it matters, but I think the best way to show you why brand voice matters is to give some examples around it.
When brand voice goes wrong:
- Peloton: In December 2020, Peloton faced criticism for a holiday ad that was perceived as tone-deaf and insensitive. The ad, which showed a husband giving his wife a Peloton bike as a gift, was criticized for promoting unhealthy body image standards and perpetuating gender stereotypes.
- Volkswagen: In March 2021, Volkswagen faced backlash for an April Fools’ Day prank in which the company announced that it was changing its name to “Voltswagen” to reflect its commitment to electric vehicles. The prank was seen as insensitive given the serious environmental concerns surrounding the auto industry and the company’s previous history of emissions cheating.
- Burger King: In April 2021, Burger King faced criticism for a tweet promoting its new “Ch’King” sandwich that used a derogatory term for mental health. The tweet was seen as inconsistent with the brand’s commitment to diversity and inclusion and led to calls for a boycott of the chain. (I’m not a fan of Burger King’s brand voice in general, I think it’s very inconsistent across channels).
Even established brands can struggle with maintaining a consistent brand voice, particularly in the age of social media where messages spread quickly and without proper context.
You need to be aware of the potential impact of your messaging and ensure that your brand voice is consistently aligned with your values and messaging.
5 mistakes that companies make when it comes to brand voice (and how to avoid them)
- Not putting the message into context. Don’t assume that your customers know what you are saying on social media and mail them a printed piece that is referencing that. Give them all the information so that marketing messages can stand on their own. If you’ve had a campaign going on your blog, your social followers don’t know that unless you let them in on it! Start at the beginning and give them all the information.
- Different voice on different platforms. If I go look at your facebook page and then visit your instagram, I should be getting the same brand voice. As a customer, I’m turned off by companies that look and act different on different platforms.
Go look at Burger King’s different platforms and you’ll start to see what I mean. Burger King on Instagram vs. Burger King on Twitter and Burger King on Facebook (a weird mix of BK Insta and BK Twitter)
- Lack of differentiation. Don’t sound like everyone else in your industry. You want to add some personality to your voice! You can be “professional” but not boring. You can add an air of sophistication, elegance, or boldness. But you also want to make sure you sound different from your competitors. Just like in your logo and brand design, it’s important to have a voice that is setting you apart.
- Being overly negative or sarcastic. Sarcasm is funny, I know. I love sarcasm. But honestly, that shouldn’t be the underpinning of your brand’s voice. Give your customers more than negativity! You’ll have followers for life if you can uplift, inspire, and brighten peoples days rather than always being the downer of the internet. I’m not talking about toxic positivity here, but more of a well-rounded voice that doesn’t default back to the negative. There’s enough of that in this world.
- Depending on who’s doing the writing, the outcome sounds different. This really comes down to employee alignment. You really have to make sure that all employees have a good understanding of the brand voice and style. I suggest that you only have a handful of people who are doing the writing for the company, so that it does remain consistent. But if that’s not possible, or if you have areas in the business that are writing technical manuals, client-facing materials, as well as marketing materials, than you need to have lots of writers on deck. Solved: Write a company style guide that includes a comprehensive explanation of brand voice, provides examples, and talks about what brand voice is when writing for different platforms (for example, brand voice will be different when writing a technical manual vs. a free download or guide).
In case you aren’t convinced, here’s 5 more reasons brand voice is important:
- Brand differentiation: Stand out from your competition with a strong brand voice! A unique and consistent brand voice can help customers identify and remember your brand, making it more likely that they will choose your products or services over others.
- Brand personality: A strong brand voice can help convey your company’s personality and values to customers. By developing a consistent tone and messaging, you can build a strong brand personality that resonates with customers and helps build trust and loyalty.
- Consistency and trust: We’ve said it before and we’ll probably say it again: consistency = trust! And in brand voice and messaging, consistency helps build trust with customers. When your brand voice is consistent across all channels, it reinforces your brand’s values and messaging, making it easier for customers to trust your company.
- Customer engagement: A strong brand voice can help increase customer engagement by creating a connection with customers. By speaking in a way that resonates with customers and reflects their values and interests, you can create a sense of community and encourage customers to interact with your brand.
- Employee alignment: A consistent brand voice can also help align employees with your company’s values and messaging. By providing clear guidelines for how your brand should sound and communicate, you can ensure that everyone in your organization is on the same page and working towards the same goals.
Bottom line: a strong brand voice can help differentiate your company, build trust and loyalty with customers, increase engagement, and align employees with your brand’s values and messaging so that you keep up that consistency and trust!
If you want to see great examples of brand voice, check out this other article by Ebaqdesign on 7 Best Examples of Brand Voice & Tone.
Brand voice is all about the experience you promise to deliver to clients.
Need help working on your brand voice? Work with DASH to hone in on your voice and your messaging for more consistency and trust with your customers!
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