Marketing is a curious discipline, in that it sometimes influences user behaviour, and at other times follows in the wake of change. Marketing used to be the fortified stronghold of mega organisations and billion dollar soap to toothpaste conglomerates. Today everyone has done, or is doing, marketing in one form or the other, whether it is video resumes, LinkedIn posts, keyword searches or podcast trailers. Along with the levelling of this mountain came the need for approaches, formats and metrics that enabled marketers to reach their audiences effectively. One such addition to this stable is: brand voice.
What is a brand voice?
This is a conceptual term used to identify what your brand sounds like in all forms of communication. Specifically, it is a checkpoint to ensure that the brand identity remains consistent across all forms of expression. If you haven’t heard the term ‘brand voice’ before, it is partly because it is relatively new, and partly because it is more relevant than before in our age of online content and constant conversation on social media. This widening of the scope of interaction also means that more and more people are involved in speaking to users on behalf of the brand, and in multiple formats: from tweets and Instagram posts to ten-second marketing videos and informative blog posts.
One way to think about brand voice is to consider the role your own voice plays in your life. You portray a range of emotions with your voice - talking, whispering, shouting, as well as emotive sounds. Your voice is also expressed through your written communication in WhatsApp messages, Facebook posts, and emails. It is possible that if you remove your name from some of your communication, those who work closely with you or know you well would be able to recognise you through what you have written. You have a style that is unique to you, and it reflects not only in the way you write, but also in the manner in which you convey your thoughts, express your emotions and react to others. Your communication style is consistent without being deliberately so. In the case of a brand, this exercise has to be constructed with thought, and more importantly, disseminated amongst your team so as to manifest the consistency of the brand’s values and its personality in everything that is shared with the public at large.
Do I need a brand voice?
If you have interacted in written, oral or video form with anyone in the name of your brand or business you already have a brand voice. This article can help you become aware of it and define it sharply enough so as to boost the power of your marketing communication.
To have a brand voice, you don’t have to be a multi million dollar company, or boast of a thousand-employee workforce. Neither do you have to have extensive online presence, or marketing material of any kind. Irrespective of whether you are yet to create or post any content, or have been a one-person brand-cum-creator for a number of years, this is a useful approach to strengthening the impact of your work. In other words, you already have a brand voice. It’s time to figure out what it is, and what you want it to be.
How do I build my brand voice?
One of the guidelines for building a brand voice is this article that suggests describing it in three words. One way is to examine all the content you have created and pull out common threads from them. Another way is to examine your brand values and interpret them in the form of traits or personal qualities. For example, if you create elearning modules, one of your goals might be to be viewed as an expert in your field.
- Trait 1: Authoritative
In this case, you want to sound authoritative through your lessons, but without being arrogant or aloof. Some of your other goals could be to create comprehensive decks around every topic in your field, or respond to every one of your learners’ queries, or be regular in sharing new modules. So the second trait could be: conversational. You could prefer to retain a formal tone, too.
- Trait 2: Conversational, or if formal - courteous, or amiable
For the third trait, think about what you want your learners to feel like, or take away from each of your modules. You might want them to feel satisfied about time well-spent, or proud of themselves for having taken on a commitment and seen it through. Maybe you want to make your modules as widely available as possible, so you might post them for free or make it easy to share and watch them.
- Trait 3: Encouraging, or Accessible
Individually, each of these attributes are not unique. It is possible that you can yourself think of many creators or elearning brands that share all these characteristics. The difference is in the application. How you encourage your learners might be different from how others do the same thing, just like how everyone’s definition of ‘formal’, particularly, online, is different. Finally, the reason for limiting brand voice traits (to three or four) in number is to highlight the most important, or the significant factors that make your brand what it is. A long list of traits could result in content with an ambivalent tone, leaving users feeling confused or worse, neutral.
Like all creative approaches, defining a brand voice has multiple methods and outcomes. The idea here is to characterise your style of communication, and to keep it constant throughout all the content you put out there. Being consistent with the way you write, sound and communicate will, over time, create a sense of security for your customers, in terms of what interacting with your brand makes them feel. Most of our decisions are influenced by our emotions, as much as we would love for it to be otherwise. We prefer some products and brands over others as much for the reactions and feelings they invoke in us as for tangible benefits like price or availability.
How do I know if my brand voice is good?
The important task is to find the right brand voice for your brand, rather than a good one. The right brand voice, especially in the early days, can have exponential impact in building user stickiness. At the same time, the answer is not straightforward or definite because it is a composite mix of the internal (brand direction and strategy) and external (target customer segments may change with growth), as well as the tangible (likes and shares on social media) and the intangible (positive results in the long term). If this sounds complex, it is. But it is not impossible; every brand anyone loves today has gone through this journey and has captured a share of its customers' wallet, and a corner of their hearts by creating synergy between its values, the product it sells and its voice.
Mailchimp is a great example of perfectly executed brand voice. On its website, Mailchimp says it is ‘an all-in-one Marketing platform for small business’. Their product is designed to make email marketing easy for someone who doesn’t know anything about marketing, to experienced martech professionals. The key word in their brand purpose is ‘to empower’. In this context, their emphasis on being conversational and informative in their voice and tone guide is an extension of the need-gap that their product addresses.
It is highly unlikely that Mailchimp sounded the way they do today, from the very beginning. Brand voice evolves over time. But like financial literacy, the earlier you start, the stronger your growth can be. The fundamentals remain the same: a brand voice is an articulation of the brand's values, i.e., what the bra nd stands for and the audience it is speaking to.
Brand voice in marketing
Marketing videos are typically made for target audiences looking to purchase or experience a similar product or service. In the past few years, the video format has exploded in terms of options, both for creators and the audience because of its proven efficacy. According to this study over 80% of people surveyed said that they have been convinced to buy a product or service after watching a brand’s video.
The internet may be suffering from a video surplus, but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t create any yourself. On the contrary, a video used effectively can produce better results with the same impressions or reach than static representations. Smoothly transitioning images captioned well, and voiced with information useful for the target audience can make your offering stand out.
This section has pointers for trailer ads, radio advertising, and ad spots on platforms like YouTube and Facebook. The differences between an advertisement (ad for short) and a marketing video lie in who will watch it, and consequently the ground that they will cover.
Marketing videos can be longer - various sources state that marketing videos can be upto 2 minutes long. There is no magic number, though. The goal is to maximise reach while minimising drop offs.
Ads are much shorter, sometimes less than ten seconds.
Radio advertising mirrors ads in that its duration is short, and the emphasis is on the voicing of the content, as much as what is said.
An advertisement is generally made with an intent to increase awareness and create interest. Viewers may or may not belong to the target audience, hence the phrase “spray and pray”. Video ads are run on generic platforms like Google, Facebook and YouTube to acquire new customers. Radio advertising is one of the earliest examples of voice over marketing. More recently, podcasts have opened another avenue for voice-only marketing. For any ad, creating a positive impression on a passive audience whose interest level is unknown is the primary aim.
On the other hand, a marketing video is made specifically for the target audience, and so its content is also specific and in greater detail. The intent of a marketing video is to influence purchase, as the audience viewing it is assumed to be in the lookout for a similar offering. Marketing videos are typically shared on topic-specific websites and platforms, or as a result of specific searches for YouTube.
Advertisements vary greatly in style, tone and content. Sometimes the same brand might have two different ads for the same product, on different platforms, too. The substance of the ad may or may not link back to the differentiated aspects of the product. Given the short time span and the assumption that one or two percent of those who watch the ad might be interested (sometimes even lesser), a strong impression through a punchy message or uniquely depicted scenes is the priority.
Comparatively, a marketing video will highlight the major features of the product and include commonly felt pain-points of the audience, and expected results. This does not mean that a marketing video cannot be interesting or fun to watch. The goal of a marketing video is to serve the target customer’s needs and reinforce their purchase intent. Any method that can achieve this is a good method.
However, in all the cases discussed above, although its treatment may vary, the brand voice is key to reinforcing the values of the brand and creating an emotional connection with the audience. While creating marketing assets across the types mentioned above, a good exercise would be to check for the common threads of brand values and brand traits across all of them.
How to get a voice over that reflects your brand voice
- Step 1: Create a new project, and upload your video or images. If your video has audio, Murf Studio will automatically separate the audio and video tracks for easy editing and syncing. If your audio is in a separate file, upload it as well
- Step 2: Once uploaded, you can transcribe your recorded voice over into a script. This will make your editing work faster and cleaner. If you have a script, copy and paste it into a textbox of the Murf Studio interface after removing all the formatting.
- Step 3: If you want to retain the recorded voice, you can trim or mute parts of it. You can also add or remove pauses, which will be called out separately when the audio is transcribed.
Alternatively, you can pick an AI voice from Murf’s constantly expanding gallery of 100+ voices. Editing an AI voice is as easy as editing a word doc.
- Step 4: To make all the elements - video, audio and content come together, ask yourself if they are all in your brand voice. Do they represent your brand identity in their respective modes? For example, if one of your brand voice traits is ‘authoritative’, use the active voice in your content and in your voice over, and be unambiguous with your explanations. At the same time, use video to distinctly demonstrate your content, and leave questions, justifications and extraneous explanations for later.
- Step 5: With Murf, you can build and render your file multiple times with a Basic Plan, depending on the duration of your video. The important point here is to accept that you might not hit the perfect note the first time. Review the script, the video screens, and listen to the audio multiple times. Check that the syncing and transitions between audio and video are complementary and smooth.
When you’re ready, you can use Murf’s secure share option to create a shareable link that can be password protected or valid for a specified time. To download your video and to adapt it to sizes suitable for platforms, upgrade to a paid plan.
Does all online marketing involve videos?
When all the world is making and watching videos, does only voice over marketing work? The answer depends on one word - audience. If your audience listens to podcasts, or prefers community or public radio to subscription model music, then that is where your brand should be heard. What if you want to, or have to make a marketing video that is only a few seconds long? Would you rather make a regular video, or put together a few compelling images with a voice over that captures the imagination? Voice has the singular power to transmit emotion faster than any other medium, even today. Write a script that highlights your product’s special features, iterate, iterate, iterate and edit many times more. Then plug it into Murf’s Studio, pick a voice that captures your brand traits and is representative of your brand voice, and watch the magic.
New to voice overs? Start from the beginning here.
A brand voice is a conceptual term for what your brand sounds like in all communication - written, oral and visual. Anyone who has interacted with an audience, either one-to-one, one-to-some, or one-to-many has a brand voice. This article serves to make you aware of the significance of having a brand voice consistent with your brand identity, because it can create synergy in your content and accelerate the impact of your marketing communication.
There is no one method to identify your brand voice. The end result is a set of traits or emotive characteristics that you would like to express to your audience.
Brand voice plays a particularly useful role in marketing material, as it can amplify the essence of the message. Brand voice is more visible in marketing videos and advertising since they put the brand front and centre.
Not all marketing today needs to be in video form. From short ads that play on YouTube to podcast trailers, voice over marketing can have just as much impact as marketing videos. The key is to be flexible enough to reach out to your audience, wherever they are, in whatever format they are already consuming.
Finally, it is quite likely that your brand already has a voice of its own, created instinctively from the needs your product addresses and the audience it serves. Outlining your brand voice will be particularly useful as you widen the scope of your communication and marketing assets, and when multiple people on your team take on the voice of the brand in their professional roles.