Easy Brand Creation for Small Businesses
What if you went to a Lions game and found the players wearing green or purple instead of their signature blue? Wouldn't it be strange if Biggby started asking if you wanted a Venti instead of a 24 oz? Think about some of the brands you follow or use. If they went in another direction, it would seem weird! You would notice immediately.
Why is that?
These brands have found their voice. More than that, they stick to it! We need to do the same. We need to find our voice in our brand and use it in every ad, every marketing campaign, every public display of our brand! This is especially important as marketing isn't just ads on TV or newspaper anymore. It's how we post on social media, it's our blogs, it's events we host, it's who we do business with.
That's our voice.
As we look at beginning a new decade, now is a great time to take a deep look at your content. Take samples from everywhere your brand has a public voice. Does it look and feel consistent? To create a strong brand, we need to build on the consistencies that are working for us and stay away from the inconsistencies and anything that hasn’t engaged our target audience. Easier said than done, right? We at CIS Agency are here to give you the FAST PASS to figuring out your brand voice.
Describe your brand in three words.
For some companies, we are so close to what we do that this can be a little tricky. If you're stuck, try coming up with words for brands you know. What three words would you choose for Biggby? For the Lions? Here are some tips to determining your brand's voice:
Consider your values, mission, and vision - how do those shape your brand? Click the link for a great "how-to" on defining those aspects of your company culture if you haven't already.
Consider the type of people that run your company - are they funny or serious? Formal or casual? Enthusiastic or matter-of-fact?
If you didn't have to sell, what would your voice be? In other words, if you could run this company without worrying about your audience, what would your marketing look like?
Consider your audience - can that organic voice you just described reach your target market? Find content that's already popular with who you are selling to. What does it have in common?
How do you want people to feel when they interact with your brand? We buy based on emotions. Do you want to make your customers laugh? Give them peace of mind?
Ask current customers to describe their interactions with YOU and the brand. If you have customers already, getting an outsider's take is so valuable! Just like you had ideas about Biggby's brand voice, your customers (hopefully!) have thoughts on your brand.
Try a generator: https://www.portent.com/tools/tone-of-voice-generator
Narrow this description into THREE WORDS that describe your brand.
1. Brainstorm ways to incorporate your brand outside of ads and content.
Your brand isn't just how you show up in ads. Especially as a local business, you are your brand.
You are a constant walking and talking marketing machine. This doesn't mean you are always talking about your business; it means that even when you aren't - those around you are forming opinions about you and, therefore, your business and brand!
Earlier we mentioned the Lions. More than a football team, they are a brand. In the offseason, are they just training and relaxing? More often than not they are discussing the franchise, doing charity work that reflects their mission, and working on how to improve their brand - not just their offense.
Consider how your brand would shape these ideas:
What kind of events could you host or partner with that match your voice?
What volunteer work could you and your employees do?
What other brands/companies/non-profits would be a good match for your voice? How could you collaborate with these marketing partners?
How does your brand voice shape your company culture and the way you carry yourselves? What does your voice expect of your employees and leadership?
How do your customers interact with your brand beyond buying your product or service?
2. Create a brand voice chart (includes those three words, a description, do, and don't)
How do you do this? It's as simple as creating a chart!
There are SO many brand voice charts out there as examples. You may just find inspiration and guidance by taking some time to look at a few! Another idea is to practice creating a chart on a brand you know and respect, this experience could help you with your own chart.
3. Use it or lose it!
Have those DO and DON'T items posted wherever you or any employees involved in marketing (that's everyone, by the way!) can see them. Use the DO actions throughout content ALWAYS, and ALWAYS avoid the DON'T actions.
This includes every social media post, every blog, every ad spot, every public appearance, etc. This voice should resonate through everything you do. Consider your packaging, how your employees interact with your customers, and how your customers feel after interacting with your brand.
The only time you should do a don't is if it is a RARE and INTENTIONAL marketing strategy. For example, the only time Starbucks strays from their signature green cups is for the holiday season. This is such an intentional strategy that it's become a part of the brand. This can only be done successfully once your brand has been fully established. Think three years over three months.
4. Revisit. Revisit. Revisit.
Your brand should be reviewed at LEAST anytime a major change occurs in your company. Outside of major changes, it's not too often to revisit your brand twice or four times a year depending on your industry, how fast it changes, and your audience. Revisiting doesn't mean changing, it means truly reflecting on if all elements of your brand are still relevant to you, your product, and your audience.
For example, if you are marketing to young people, revisit quarterly. The younger generations have tastes that are constantly shifting and changing. If you are marketing to a more loyal (or older) audience, twice a year is probably plenty. For instance, if you are an automotive business, twice a year is probably enough as the automotive industry is well-established. If you are in the food industry, it's more important to review every quarter as what is "in" is always changing!
We hope this has been insightful for you and your company's brand! Let us know how your brand voice is coming along! Consider bringing that brand voice alive through CIS Agency's Graphic Design and web team. We can help build a professional, brand-specific website or branding guideline! Our brand voice is strong, professional, and bold - and we will be all of those things to serve YOU, our local businesses!