A unique brand voice helps your business create better connections with customers.
A customer who feels connected to a business is often loyal to that brand. This can result in repeat sales and word-of-mouth recommendations, which means you’ll need to spend less time and money on acquiring fresh customers—and convincing them to convert.
Ahead, you’ll learn in detail what a brand voice is and why it matters. You’ll also discover how to find yours so you can develop a personality that will turn first-time customers into loyal fans.
What is brand voice?
Brand voice is how a business speaks to its audience and the world. It’s the unique personality behind a business and the persona a brand creates.
In many ways, a brand’s voice sits at the core of the relationship customers have with a business. It fosters connection and community, and can even instill more confidence in a brand’s products.
Just like the personality of a close friend or acquaintance, a strong brand voice feels as unique as the business it belongs to. It’s an easily recognizable identifier that emulates the main goals and values of the business.
As you develop your own brand’s voice, consider the relationship you want your brand to have with your customers. Is it a friend, confidant, hype person, esteemed colleague, industry expert, scientist, sibling, or parent?
✏️ Note: Brand voice is the overall personality your business takes on. Tone, on the other hand, is the emotion and inflection of that voice. While brand voice remains consistent throughout the life of a brand, the brand tone changes to be appropriate for each situation.
Why brand voice matters
“The brands that speak to everyone speak to no one,” says marketer Morgan Brown. “Whether brand differentiation means what the brand stands for, the way the product is made, or the way they engage their audience, consumers are looking for differentiated experiences and brands they can connect to.”
Developing your own brand voice will set your business apart from the competition—even if you exist in similar product categories or sell the same items. It can influence how consumers perceive your business, build trust, create connections, or allow people to identify your voice amongst the noise.
It influences perception
You’ll want your brand to have a positive reputation overall, but your company’s brand voice also has a hand in exactly how it’s perceived by consumers. Your brand might be known for its methodical research, eco-friendly ingredients, or inspiring slogan. This perception is augmented by the way your brand’s voice positions you in the market.
For example, Adidas uses its voice to inspire consumers. It hints that customers can overcome the impossible.
It sparks recognition
You already know the Nike swoosh and “Just do it” slogan, which has become just as recognizable as the Nike logo and name. Anywhere, any time consumers see that slogan, there’s instant awareness and recognition that the ad belongs to Nike. While this is true for the slogan, it’s also true for the brand’s larger aspirational voice.
It builds trust
Whether you determine your brand’s voice to be sassy, supportive, or serious, it always needs to act as a vehicle to build trust with your customers. You don’t want to be labeled as the goofy friend that never follows through. Instead, use your voice to reassure customers that you’ll stay true to any brand promises.
It creates connection
A connection with your brand is what keeps customers coming back for more. For example, customers might feel a connection to brands that share similar values to them. A customer might subscribe to a business that produces recycled paper products because of their commitment to sustainability. Or, a customer might be loyal to local family-run businesses because they feel a direct connection to the owners.
Even if you can’t speak directly to customers in a retail setting, your goal is to make them feel like you are. How can your brand’s voice feel similar to your favorite barista at the local coffee shop?
📚 Read more: How to Start Your Own Brand From Scratch in 7 Steps
9 ways to define your brand voice
- Define your target audience
- Find existing brands or people you like
- Get your creative juices flowing with writing exercises
- Create your style guide
- Share your company’s mission statement and values
- Consider how you want your customers to feel
- Make a sounds-like, doesn’t-sound-like chart
- Create a do and don’t section
- Decide how you’ll handle grammar and mechanics
1. Define your target audience
How you speak as a brand depends largely on who you speak to. Before you start tinkering with the voice of your business, first you’ll need to define your target audience. For example, you wouldn’t speak to people in their 50s and 60s the same way you’d engage with Gen Z and Gen Alpha or you’d risk losing the trust and engagement of the customers most likely to buy from you.
A couple of ways to identify your target audience are:
- Doing post-purchase surveys
- Analyzing Google Analytics data
- Doing industry research
- Conducting competitor analysis
2. Find existing brands or people you like
If your brand voice could blend two existing brands, celebrities, fictional characters, or public figures, what or who would that be?
For example, you might be building a brand that sells rare plants online, and through your research, you discover your target audience. Based on that information, you decide you want to sound like a mix between Trader Joe’s market and Friends character Phoebe Buffay. Now that you have that information, you can do some written explorations.
3. Get your creative juices flowing with writing exercises
Through some fun writing exercises, you can mix the two identities you chose in the last step and add any additional ingredients to come up with the right voice for your business.
First, write down the entities you chose at the top of a blank page. With that in mind, answer these questions:
- What words would you use to describe your newfound brand tone? Sassy? Even? Smart? Helpful? Funny? Inspiring? Strong?
- If your brand was a person, how might it act at a dinner party? Would it be the loudest person in the room? The scholar summarizing a recent lecture? The host? The one scrutinizing everyone’s outfits?
- Write 250 words about your brand with this new personality in mind. How would these voices mix together? What types of words and phrases would your brand’s voice use to describe your products, your mission, or your goals?
- How would your brand caption a product-focused social media post? Write out the copy you think fits within the new brand personality you’ve created.
- Write an abandoned cart email using your new voice. How would you convince someone to come back to take another look?
If you’re satisfied with the new understanding you have of your brand’s voice, move on to the next step. If you still need some exploration, try writing your About Us page in your brand’s voice. This page is the place where your brand’s personality can shine the most, and it should help you better define how you’d like to sound.
4. Create your style guide
Now that you have a more solid understanding of what your brand voice sounds like, it’s time to build your brand voice guidelines to reflect it. Your style guide not only reminds you what your personality is, it serves as a map for new employees, freelancers, and business partners when they need to write like your brand or gain a deeper understanding of it.
💡Tip: Be sure you can easily share your style guide with others. Tools such as Google Docs and Notion are great places to start.
5. Share your company’s mission statement and values
What are the goals, aspirations, or work you want to accomplish as a business? Communicate your company’s mission statement, brand values, and vision for your brand at the top of your style guide. This serves as a level-set for anyone looking to understand the personality of your business.
6. Consider how you want your customers to feel
This is your opportunity to share how you’d like customers to feel when they engage with your brand. Do you want to be the smart friend who shares advice? The college professor with authority and credibility on a topic? The silly best friend who always wants to have a good time? You should already have this information from the writing exercise you did earlier.
Write out that information and include the reaction you’d like customers to have.
👉 Example: “Our voice is the snarky friend who has a comeback for everything and can cheer anyone up in a pinch. We’d like customers to feel happy, uplifted, and in a better mood anytime they engage with us.”
7. Make a sounds-like, doesn’t-sound-like chart
Sometimes the best way to get across how you’d like to sound is to share how you don’t want to sound. Creating a chart for how your brand’s personality sounds makes it even more clear to your team.
In the document you’re using, create two sections: one that includes what your brand sounds like, and one that includes what it doesn’t sound like. Fill in the sections with bullet points that describe what your brand’s voice is and what it’s not. Use the following example as a template:
✅ As a brand, our voice seeks to be:
- Warm, encouraging, and supportive. We’d like customers to walk away feeling like we understand them and have their backs.
- Kind, but not effusive. We’re the friend you ask for support, but we’re not over-the-top about it.
🚫 As a brand, our voice is not:
- Condescending. We’re here to give you advice about how our products will support your lifestyle, but we’ll never talk down to you about it.
- Sassy or sarcastic. We’re even, steady, and nice, but we won’t crack jokes or make snarky asides.
8. Create a dos and don’ts section
Now it’s time to get even more granular. In your dos and don’ts section, you’ll detail how you’d like to sound during specific moments. How should your voice sound on product pages, checkout pages, social media posts, email blasts, newsletters, and text messages? Be sure to include any tone changes that also apply across these different channels.
9. Decide how you’ll handle grammar and mechanics
This section of your guide details how your brand handles punctuation, capitalization, spelling rules, contractions, bulleted and numbered lists, dates, currency, dashes, and more. You can use a popular style guide like The AP Stylebook or The Chicago Manual of Style as your default.
✨ Learn more: How to Design a Visual Identity for Your Brand
Keeping your brand voice consistent across platforms
As you develop content for your brand across different social media platforms, emails, SMS messaging, and your website, it can be challenging to maintain brand consistency. Different types of customers will visit different platforms, so how will your voice adapt while still remaining true to its core personality?
This is where tone of voice comes into play. Tone allows you the flexibility you need to meet customers where they are on different platforms.
For example, Girlfriend Collective changes its tone slightly from platform to platform, to match the mood. In its welcome email, the brand uses the slogan, “Don’t make waste. Wear it.”
On Instagram, the eco-friendly messaging is the same, but the tone is more fun and uplifting: “Recycling never looked so good.”
Brand voice examples
- Who Gives a Crap
- Fable & Mane
- Open Farm
- Oxbow Designs
- Fewer Finer
Your voice might make up a big part of your brand’s distinct personality. Or, it might be understated and strong. It could be fun and playful, or serious and well-reasoned. Here’s a range of compelling brand voice examples so you can start to uncover where your brand best fits in.
1. Who Gives a Crap
Brand voice: Sassy
Who knew that toilet paper could be a hoot? Who Gives a Crap uses a playful, sassy tone to make purchasing toilet paper a lot more fun. The brand grabs your attention with cheeky lines like, “Sure, we love puppies and sunny days and walks on the beach, but our real love is toilet paper.” Then, it uses that attention to educate its customers about sustainability and the lack of access to toilets for two billion people across the world.
Brand voice: Casual
Fishwife has taken traditional tinned fish and given it a modern-day spin—so, of course, its voice has to match. Irreverent website copy and Instagram captions make the brand feel approachable and fun.
Brand voice: Empowering
Patagonia’s dedication to sustainability and activism is clear in the language across all of its marketing properties. In addition, its voice is consistent and strong, propelling its customers to get outside, join in on initiatives to save the planet, and get stronger, all while wearing Patagonia gear.
Brand voice: Cheeky
Supermush sells superfood mints and targets a carefree but health-conscious audience. Its cheeky voice pairs perfectly with the bold 1970s design of its website.
Brand voice: Caring
Baby homeware brand Nestig has adapted its brand voice to meet the needs of new parents who want to create the best nursery for their little ones. The caring brand voice that Nestig uses comes across as reassuring and understanding.
Brand voice: Serious
Molekule, a business that sells air purifiers, also takes on a more serious brand voice. Sophisticated, confident, and backed by science, certifications, and research, Molekule positions itself as a trustworthy, high-quality, impactful brand.
7. Fable & Mane
Brand voice: Enchanting
Fable & Mane sells handmade hair products using traditional Indian rituals and ingredients. Throughout the website, the brand evokes a sense of whimsy and wonder with its enchanting copy and voice.
8. Open Farm
Brand voice: Thoughtful
Open Farm makes high-quality human-grade food for dogs and cats. The company takes great care in sourcing and procuring the ingredients for its products, and its brand voice reflects that thoughtfulness. This creates a really well-rounded brand experience, where the voice of the company mirrors its goals and values.
9. Oxbow Designs
Brand voice: Relatable
Seeing a note from the founder of a business goes a long way toward humanizing a brand. It allows people to feel more connected to your business by understanding why you care. Oxbow Designs, a jewelry shop run by Maggie Rogers Kyle and her pup, Harper, does a great job of this. On Instagram, Maggie posts product snaps and pictures of Harper, bridging the gap between her and her customers.
10. Fewer Finer
Brand voice: Relatable
Madison Snider of Fewer Finer is active on Instagram Stories daily, sharing videos of new vintage jewelry pieces, recommending products, and showing snapshots of her day. The voice of the company is hers, allowing shoppers to feel even more connected to the brand, especially if they’re collaborating on major purchases, like engagement rings or wedding bands.
Brand voice determines your business’ distinct personality
As you develop your company’s voice, remember that it’s a core part of your business’s personality online. This is the basis of how you speak with customers and how you make them feel,and can influence why they trust you and your business.
Brand voice FAQ
How do you define brand voice?
What is an example of a brand voice?
- Conversational: This brand voice is friendly, informal, and direct. It speaks to customers as if they’re part of a conversation and has a relaxed, easygoing tone. Examples: Apple, Airbnb, and Amazon.
- Professional: This brand voice is authoritative, knowledgeable, and informative. It conveys a sense of expertise and trustworthiness, and speaks to customers in a formal manner. Examples: Microsoft, IBM, and LinkedIn.
- Playful: This brand voice is fun, lighthearted, and often irreverent. It aims to entertain customers and make them laugh. Examples: Skittles, Burger King, and Old Spice.
- Inspirational: This brand voice is motivating, uplifting, and aspirational. It speaks to customers in terms of values, goals, and dreams. Examples: Nike, Dove, and TED.