You should sound as good as you look. Brand voice matters.

Think back to years ago (or maybe just days) when you were going out to meet some friends, and maybe make some new ones. You check yourself out in the mirror. No stains on your shirt. Your fly is zipped. No spinach in your teeth. You look good.

There you are, talking with your friends and someone catches your attention. You lock eyes, and make your approach to introduce yourself. Then it happens. You open your mouth, and you sound like an idiot. Your words betray you, with the conversation ending in a polite, “Uh, nice to meet ya, see you around.”

Now replace yourself in this scenario with your brand. You feel confident about how you look, but figuring out the right thing to say can be frustrating.*

Brand voice is as important as visual elements.
Brands tend to fixate on their visual aspects—color palette, design elements, product display. Frankly, that’s the easy part. The voice of a brand is key to establishing your identity. But it’s too often neglected when communicating to the marketplace. Just like your logo and marketing materials separate you from the competition, your voice needs to work towards the same goal. It needs to be authentic.

Find your voice, not someone else’s.
Establishing your brand voice starts with a well-defined brand persona. Envision your brand as a person with specific character traits. What kind of words and speech style would that person use? For example, it makes sense when a 15-year-old watches the latest viral meme and says, “That’s lit.” But when his mom uses the same term when she sees that her favorite detergent is on sale, well that is just wrong. This is also true of your brand voice. When it’s established based on an accurate brand persona, it’s easy to assess if what you’re saying is authentic or not.

This brings us to a few common mistakes brands make with their voice:

1) I like it, that’s what matters. Even when you’ve identified your brand persona, don’t forget that your customer’s personality matters too. You must know your customer and speak to them in a way that makes a connection.

2) Clever is better. Not so much. If your objective is to ensure that your brand is perceived as edgy or witty, you may very well forget your real purpose: to inform your customer. We all can describe our favorite avant-garde TV ads…but more times than not, we can’t recall the actual product being advertised. Yeah, don’t be that brand.

3) Get excited!!! You are passionate about your brand. You should be. But an unbridled profusion of enthusiastic words doesn’t connect. Or sell. Instead, be relevant. Tell people what really matters—and why it should matter to them.

Be consistent.
Finally, for your brand voice to be potent, it needs to be singular and cohesive. You wouldn’t use 10 different logos across your marketing material. So don’t use a variety of voices. Make sure every team member, partner and associate—anyone talking about your brand on your behalf—is using the established brand voice. Written or spoken, the words representing your brand must be consistent across your organization. Because, ultimately, everyone there is in “marketing”.

*Many keyboards were harmed in the creation of this content.