How to Find Your Brand Voice Through Design
Finding your brand voice (and instilling it across your social channels) is the best way to grow your business.
With a strong brand voice, you can cut through the social competition and turn your one-time viewers into lifetime customers!
The good news is, there are lots of ways to strengthen your brand voice on social — from choosing the right color palette and fonts, to identifying your unique brand story.
Later teamed up with Matt Riley, Head of Brand at popular design app Over, to share his top tips for creating a distinctive brand that sticks:
Why Your Business Needs a Brand Voice:
It may sound like fancy marketing jargon, but building your brand voice is one of the best steps you can take to help your business grow.
From your choice of words and language, to the personality and tone of your images — your brand voice is everything, and anything, that portrays what your business is all about.
And in today’s rowdy social media space, a unique brand voice is more important than ever!
In a nutshell, brand voice plays an important role in making sure your business can cut through the social noise — and leave a lasting impression on potential customers.
When it comes to defining your brand voice, Matt Riley, Head of Brand at Over, says that: “Everyone has the potential to be creative — they just need the right tools, inspiration, and confidence to do it.”
How to Stand Out From the Crowd with Your Brand Voice:
Your brand voice is more than just words — it’s the mood and tone you want to portray through everything you do!
For example, if your brand is all about empowerment with a punchy, energetic voice, you might want to pick colors and fonts that mirror that — like bright bold primary colors and strong bolded fonts. Just like how @Girlboss has:
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As women, we spent so much of our time trying to make other people (especially men) more comfortable–even when it inconveniences us or isn't in our best interest. Award-winning journalist and author Liz Plank @feministabulous held our #DigitalFireside this week and gave our community members insightful advice regarding how to handle toxic masculinity in the workplace and how to address and discuss society's harmful ideas about "proper" masculinity. To check out the conversation, sign up at Girlboss.com today (that way you can ask your own questions in next week's #DigitalFireside, too)!
Your brand assets and your distinctive tone of voice come together to help you stand out. So to help you get that partnership right, here are some things to keep in mind:
Think About Your Brand’s Color Palette:
Did you know that 90% of product judgment is based on color alone? That’s a huge decision to make for your brand!
Colors communicate your tone. So you need to think about what feelings you want to evoke — warm colors often evoke an action, while cool colors are more calming.
While both are promoting their aromatherapy and essential oils, their color choices evoke different moods and feelings for the viewer.
And once you’ve locked down your primary color for your branding, you also need to consider your secondary, or supplementary colors.
These will help make up your brand color palette which can be used across your brand assets, like Instagram Stories and Instagram Stories highlights.
Check out how @TheGoodTrade has a strong color palette of earthy pastels to choose from for their Instagram profile:
By bringing these tones together, The Good Trade is able to create a cohesive Instagram feed that reflects its brand voice without being too repetitive.
Decide on Your Brand’s Font Pairings:
When it comes to making an impression on your followers, the fonts you choose can speak just as loudly as the words you write.
And while choosing a font can seem pretty simple, it’s worth spending some time analyzing your brand voice and how this can be best depicted through your fonts.
For example, serif fonts tend to represent tradition, respectability, and discernment. See how Harper’s BAZAAR uses their serif fonts across their Instagram profile:
Sans serif fonts, on the other hand, signal modernity, objectivity, and even innovation. Many social media channels like LinkedIn and Facebook have opted for sans serif fonts. And it’s Later and Over’s font preference too!
Modern fonts are usually perceived as progressive, strong and stylish, which is why they’re a great choice for current brands like Hulu. And display fonts are often seen as friendly, expressive and amusing — just look at Disney’s iconic and playful font.
So when it comes to developing your brand, choosing the right fonts can really make or break your tone of voice on social.
Struggling to find the right color palette or font pairing for your brand? You can find out more about color theory and test out hundreds of fonts for free with the Over app!
How to Use Your Business Story in Your Brand Voice:
The one thing that makes your brand truly unique in the social media world is your business story.
Knowing what your business stands for, and why you do what you do helps form a strong brand voice. It’s the story that you can share with your audience that helps build brand affinity and loyalty.
And whether you’re building your brand voice from scratch or revamping your existing branding, there are 4 important factors — what Matt from Over calls “brand truths” — you need to consider:
#1: Your Brand Truth
The first “truth” to think about is probably the most important one: your truth.
Think of this as your “origin story” — what makes your brand special, what makes you stand out from the crowd, and what can you offer that’s never been seen before?
At this stage, it’s important to dig deep into your business roots and think about your own brand’s story or company characteristics.
#2: Your Audience’s Truth
This “truth” is all about your audience — what do they need or desire?
Because if your audience has a need, that has yet to be fulfilled, your brand can step into the void and provide a solution for them!
Check out The Wing’s Instagram profile — it’s clear from their bio that they know their audience is looking for co-working spaces for women.
But not just any female-friendly co-working space — The Wing wants to provide a space for their audience who identify with their “advancement of women through community” ethos. By focusing on their “audience truth”, The Wing is able to niche down to a very specific type of female audience, one that relates to its strong company culture and core values.
This is a good opportunity to review your services and why you offer them — once you can identify what your audience needs and how you can serve them, you’re on the right track to building your brand voice.
#3: The Truth of the Moment
Now it’s time to look at what’s happening around you — has there been a cultural shift that’s affecting your business? Or perhaps something has become trendy that your brand can tap into.
It’s important to remember that this isn’t about “jumping on the trend bandwagon” but more about listening to what’s going on that’s relevant to your target audience.
If you’re noticing a strong trend that could be of interest to both you, your brand and your audience, it may be worth using in your brand strategy.
#4: The Truth of Your Mission
At this final stage, you need to look deeper into your brand mission — further than making products and big sales.
This is all about nailing down why you are doing what you’re doing.
For some brands, this could be supporting an environmental mission, for others, it could be to spread awareness of a special cause or empowering their audience.
A good example is Patagonia. The sustainable apparel brand has a strong brand voice when it comes to their environmental mission. They’ve even made their slogan “we’re in business to save our home planet.”
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Since 1985, Patagonia has paid a self-imposed Earth Tax. Each year we give 1% of our net sales to environmental organisations leading the fight to protect our home planet. By 2018, these donations had totalled more than $100 million, supporting efforts from Bosnia to Tasmania, Kauai to Alaska, Montana to Oakland. Read about their remarkable work through the link in our profile ⠀
Each year, Patagonia pays a self-imposed “Earth Tax” as part of its mission — with 1% of their net sales donated to environmental charities working to protect the planet.
In this final step, it’s important to go beyond the profit figures and identify your true brand values and mission.
By analyzing these 4 “truths”, you’ll have a much clearer picture of what defines your brand voice and how your design assets can help reflect it.
Your Final Checklist to Finding Your Brand Voice:
You should now feel ready and armed to create a strong brand voice for your business, but to wrap things up, here’s a final checklist:
#1. Be Consistent and Authentic:
Whatever you choose to use as your brand voice (and how that’s depicted in your design assets), it’s important to commit to it.
When you’re consistent with your branding, you’ll build muscle memory with your audience and they’ll learn to easily recognize your brand, whether they’re looking at an Instagram post, ad, or IGTV video.
#2. Make Your Point of View Clear:
This is a critical point for your brand voice, especially if your brand relies on content marketing, as well as social marketing for growth.
For example, if you’re a beauty brand, a mission to improve self-care could be understood as physical self-care (like facials, treatments, skincare) or spiritual self-care (like mindfulness practices and taking time out for yourself).
Let there be no misunderstanding with your point of view and commit to it on every level.
#3. Be Invested in Your Audience:
Remember when we covered “the truth about your mission” and identifying why you do what you do (beyond profit reasons)? This is where it comes into play!
You need to care deeply about your users and customers, and should reflect this in everything you do with your brand voice and style.
That could be as simple as celebrating milestones together (like @knixwear‘s 150k followers giveaway!), or listening to user feedback to improve your products.
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*CLOSED* 🎉T H A N K Y O U – G I V E A W A Y🎉 There’s no better day than today to celebrate our growing community. We can’t thank you enough for the love and support you’ve shown us throughout the years. Our Knix community continues to grow and we cannot wait for you to see what we have in store! As a huge T H A N K Y O U for helping us reach 150K followers, we want to give away a $150 gift card to one of you! How to win: 1. Like this photo 2. Follow @knixwear 3. Tag a friend in the comments (*BONUS* for extra chances to win, share this post in your stories!) The winner will be announced Monday July 8th. Good luck! #knix
While finding your brand voice may not happen overnight, it’s important to dedicate time and effort to work on defining it for your business.
Once you’ve established your brand voice, you’ll find your creative process a whole lot smoother.
Plus your audience will be more engaged as they’ll start to recognize your branding whether you’re posting on social media, or designing a new billboard!