If there is one thing that’s remained constant in the PR industry over the past 30 years, it’s the simple fact that every brand-building campaign ultimately relies on the strength of the mutually beneficial relationships the public relations firm has developed with the various movers and shakers operating within several different industries.
Of course, this is not the only way relationship building plays a role in the PR industry, as every brand-building campaign is at its very core all about making a meaningful connection with a specific audience segment with the ultimate goal of building a long-lasting and mutually beneficial relationship.
In order for a new, up-and-coming brand to make that initial connection with its target audience, it has to make a conscious effort to develop the voice it will use in all of its communications. Far too many brands underestimate the critical role voice plays in brand-building campaigns, which is why I believe it is important to go over the concept of voice and review some of the more effective strategies for developing it.
The Critical Role of Consistency in a Brand’s Voice
Consumers tend to gravitate toward familiarity, so it is critical that your brand’s voice remains consistent and is immediately recognizable across each marketing campaign. The voice you utilize in your marketing materials should eventually be every bit as identifiable as your brand’s logo, so frequent inconsistencies in your brand’s voice will only reduce the impact of your overall marketing efforts. The role of consistency in your brand’s voice underscores the importance of taking the time to deliberately develop the ideal brand voice early on.
Creative Strategies for Developing Your Brand Voice
I’ve always taken a great deal of pride in my firm’s status as an innovator, and I am always impressed by the creativity on display at our offices each and every day. In recent years, we’ve utilized quite a few strategies designed to help our clients identify the ideal voice for their brand, including each of the following:
• Word association
• Target audience interactions/observations
• Hypothetical questions and scenarios
The overwhelming majority of brands already have an understanding of what they want their voice to sound like, but it is nonetheless difficult to provide something even approximating an accurate description. It is precisely for this reason that we like to pose a series of hypothetical questions or scenarios, including, for example, asking who the brand would select as its ideal spokesperson regardless of budgetary limitations or potential availability. Based on the response, we can begin to identify the specific traits and qualities associated with that individual with the goal of applying those traits and qualities to the brand’s voice.
Due to the prevalence of social media, it is rather easy to find individuals that fall into a brand’s specific target market. The manner in which these individuals communicate via social media provides excellent insight into the best way for a brand to communicate with its audience so it is capable of making that initial connection. Everyone has their own preferences when it comes to the use of slang or shorthand, so subtly incorporating these preferences into a brand’s voice can really make its marketing efforts that much more impactful.
Of course, it is necessary for every brand to communicate in a genuine way that provides its target audience with an accurate portrayal of the brand and its values. In order to ensure the voice a brand develops for marketing purposes is indeed genuine, we like to ask the brand’s internal team members to engage in word association. Engaging in this particular strategy with the individuals closest to the brand is instrumental in revealing the prevailing perception with regard to the qualities and values best represented by the brand.
Since most brands’ target audiences draw from different segments of the population, we also find that it can be helpful to create a persona representing the areas in which those segments overlap. We work with the brand to develop this persona and then posit how this persona would respond to a few simple questions. Based on the persona’s responses and interests — however hypothetical they might be — it becomes far easier to begin the process of tailoring the brand’s voice in a way that appeals to its actual target audience.