When your customers and potential customers talk with customer service, does it feel consistent with who you are on social media, or in your ads and commercials? Few small businesses really take time to define their “voice.” However, having a consistent identity across all the forward-facing elements of your business is important. It helps you stand out among your competitors, and even has an effect on your team culture and morale in your employees.
In defining your company’s voice, you become an entity that your customers and clients can build a personal connection with, which is essential in our era of social marketing and relationship-branding. It builds customer loyalty, referrals, and helps perpetuate buzz about your business.
So in order to define your company’s voice, try out some of these practical exercises:
Personify Your Brand
Think, for a moment, about the “I’m a Mac” commercials. If you had to put your brand in that kind of commercial, who would you be? What would be the age, sex, and race. More importantly, what would be the persona? How would you talk to people? How would you react to problems? How would you dress? If you had to pick a celeb spokesperson, who would it be? As a fun exercise, have a company-wide activity or team building exercise where you get your employees’ votes and ideas on the subject.
Research Your Audience
This is done in two parts. Firstly, you’ll research your current audience and customer base. Who are they? What do they love about your business? What are the common threads in your Facebook following and those who interact with your brand the most online?
Your second step is to research your target audience, those people who you want to aim for, and who you think would get a lot out of your brand, even though they might not be customers now. Where do they spend their time? What are their values? What do they gush about? Think about it like an accent that you pick up after spending a lot of time in a certain crowd.
Build Contrast with Your Competition
What field do you work in and what is the average persona of that business? For example, think about what kind of personality automatically pops up when you think of an accounting firm. How do you think it would be portrayed in a satirical tv show? Now, where do you stand inside of that stereotype? You have a choice of setting yourself apart from that persona by pointing out the ways that you’re different from others (or the ways that people at large have it wrong) OR you can embrace the stereotype by making fun of yourself a little bit, or emphasizing the motivation behind it. For example, the accounting firm might say that sure, they might seem dull at first, but that’s because others don’t understand the beauty of ordered numbers, the symmetry and symphony of it all.
Create a Word Cloud
Gather together a focus group of people in the company that you want to help define who your company is. For some companies, this will be leaders and department heads. For others, it will be every single employee. For others, it might actually be a sample of your ideal audience and perhaps existing customers. Ask them a few questions that will help you get an idea to move forward with:
- When others ask what the company you work at is like, what words do you use?
- What are our most important values as a company?
- What do we have that our competitors don’t?
- What do our clients love the most about us?
- What principles were we built on? What principles will help us thrive in the future?
Once you have a solid collection of adjectives and nouns, look for common threads. You can even automatically generate a word cloud online and use it as an idea prompt for your efforts in the future.