Question: I’m worried that I don’t have a distinct enough voice or style as a content creator on social media – but I am not sure exactly how to go about creating one in the first place. Do you have any tips for finding my voice online?
Your audience on social media follows you for a specific reason – they’re fans of your content. Everything you post – including your graphics, captions, TikToks, and newsletters – represents your distinct style. As you publish more and more to social media, you're continuously developing your voice as a small business or content creator.
Simply put, your brand voice is the way you communicate online with your customers and followers. Whether it is through social media channels, your website, or customer support emails, this voice will ideally stay consistent and be something that your audience will come to expect from your online presence. We’ll cover the basics of finding and growing your brand voice in this article.
What exactly is a brand voice?
Think about some of the brands you follow online. Whether it be through their tweets, newsletters, or TikToks, you can probably recognize their words as having a certain kind of flair or style. You might even be able to pick out their content blindly, that is, without seeing their name attached to the post. This specific set of characteristics – the type of content and the way it is expressed – is what’s also known as a brand voice.
As a content creator or business owner, your goal should be to eventually have a distinct enough voice that followers will automatically link it to your brand. Duolingo is a great example of a company that really leans into its brand voice which happens to be funny, witty, and sarcastic. Take this tweet the company made in honor of Halloween.
Not only did the brand jump on a popular and timely trend, but it also poked fun at itself in a dry and clever manner. Recently, the language learning app has revamped its social media strategy to incorporate more humor in its brand voice. In fact, they have gone viral multiple times thanks to a host of funny posts.
When figuring out your voice, think about the adjectives that describe your brand. At Buffer, we consider ourselves genuine, relatable, approachable, inclusive, and clear, which directly translates into our brand voice. While your brand voice can and probably will consist of multiple adjectives, these traits should all mesh well together.
Once you’ve honed in on your brand voice, you’ll want to incorporate the style into everything you create online, including:
- Your website
- All social media platforms
- Email marketing and newsletters
- Customer service responses
Sticking to a specific voice can help your content stand out amongst the crowd.
The importance of a brand voice
You might be wondering why developing a consistent brand voice is necessary. Maybe you want to have multiple brand voices or think one specific brand voice will box your business into a category. Below, we’ll provide a few reasons why we think adhering to a specific brand voice is important.
Cut through the noise
By developing a single brand voice, you can set yourself apart from the competition on social media. When scrolling through Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok, it’s easy to get caught up in what feels like an infinite amount of posts. This is where a unique brand voice comes in. Once you’ve honed your voice, followers will always be able to recognize the posts you create.
This is why it’s important to try to stay as consistent as possible. You want your followers to find your content anywhere. Constantly switching up your brand voice will most likely confuse your audience, and your brand won’t be as memorable.
That being said, following a specific brand voice doesn’t mean your content has to feel redundant or monotonous. You can still keep a consistent voice but adjust your tone from time to time. Learn more about the differences between voice and tone here.
Be more relatable
The biggest benefit of developing a well-thought-out brand voice is that your content will be more relatable to your followers. People are more likely to develop an emotional connection with a brand if they feel like an actual person is talking to them rather than a corporation or business.
A good brand voice will make your audience feel closer to you or your business. You can accomplish this by crafting your content with a warm, friendly, and caring voice.
Have more brand authority
No matter what you’re selling, whether it be a product or a lifestyle, you want your audience to feel like they can trust and depend on your services and even your opinion. If your content is uniform across all of your online channels, this gives your brand more credibility as it feels more comprehensive.
A distinct brand voice will also make your brand feel put together – it will be clear to your followers that a ton of thought and intention went behind your words rather than your content feeling jumbled and uneven.
Without a brand voice, your content may feel disjointed and random – making it hard for customers to develop a connection to your business and products.
3 elements to build a distinct brand voice
We strive to be intentional in our communication both internally and externally at Buffer, and we do so by putting a lot of thought into our brand voice. Here are some tips we’ve used to develop our distinct style.
Incorporate your company’s values
Another way to think about your brand voice is to factor in your company’s values by asking yourself the following questions:
- How do you want your brand to make your customers feel?
- How do you want to come across to your followers?
- What is your goal as a small business owner or content creator?
At Buffer, we want to provide our users with helpful strategies so they can create the best content and grow their businesses. This informs our tone because we aim to be clear, educational, and relatable in our blog posts. While we do see ourselves as industry leaders, we never assume that we’re the only experts. Instead, we embrace humility and always consider other points of view – we hope this makes us more approachable to our customers as well.
We give advice to other small businesses, but we’re also keen on getting our followers' feedback too. This shapes our voice as curious and inquisitive, as can be seen in the tweet below, where we ask our customers for their thoughts on remote work.
Going back to Duolingo, their goal as a language app is to make learning new languages – something that is typically seen as challenging – fun for their customers. This connects to their current social media strategy as they’re engaging and funny online. They even have an entire Twitter account dedicated to the humorous experiences users have with their app, further playing up this comedic angle.
There are myriad ways you can come across to your social media followers. Is your brand voice warm and inviting, funny and witty, empathetic and conversational? Or maybe you’d like to be a bit more educational and didactic. Whatever it be, find your voice and fully embrace it.
Pull from your existing content
You may feel at a loss as you try to establish a clear brand identity, but simply browsing through your past content can be helpful. Look at your previous social media captions, your website’s about section, and emails and tweets – is there a pattern emerging? Try to identify specific trends from your previous content and incorporate those into your brand voice.
As we mentioned earlier, thinking of the adjectives that your brand represents can also help here. How would you describe your current content? Is it informative, funny, or sarcastic? These types of questions can help you pinpoint a voice that works best for your brand.
Create a content style guide
It’s one thing to create a brand voice and another to stick to it consistently. We highly recommend creating a style guide. This document can be shared throughout your organization, ensuring everyone is aware of your brand’s voice and style and will create cohesive content.
We’ve written about our style guide in the past. Asides from clearly establishing your brand voice, here are some key things to include in yours.
In our style guide, we have a section dedicated to inclusive language. Here, we lay out some ground rules, including using gender-neutral language. For example, instead of saying “guys,” when addressing groups of individuals, we try to default to alternatives, including ‘folx’ and ‘y’all.’
Here are just a few more things we include:
- When using emojis with skin tone, we vary the skin tone for each update/post.
- We capitalize Black and White when used as racial terms.
- It’s preferred to use “they” as a singular pronoun if you haven’t confirmed the gender of a person.
Diversity and inclusion
We also have diversity and inclusion guidelines. Here are a few basic principles we follow at Buffer when crafting content:
- Put people first
- Avoid idioms, jargon, and acronyms
- When speaking about disability, avoid phrases that suggest victimhood
- Don’t underplay the impact of mental disabilities
- Ask if you’re unsure
We pride ourselves on creating content that is both inclusive and accessible, which is why these guidelines are so important to us. Learn more about our style guide here.
When thinking about your brand voice, remember to acknowledge the diversity of your customers and factor that in when communicating with your audience.
Examples of distinct brand voices from these small businesses
Hopefully, you’ve gotten a good idea of what your brand voice could be. Here are some examples of small businesses and content creators putting their voices into action.
Paynter Jacket is approachable
Ethical clothing company Paynter Jacket is all about building community, and this can be seen in how they communicate with their customers.
Paynter Jacket’s brand voice comes off as approachable, friendly, and open, like in this Instagram post where they describe the unexpected way they came across a new jacket.
Co-founders Becky and Huw write their captions as if they were talking to a close friend and filling them in on their day.
Janet Gwen is confident
Lifestyle brand Janet Gwen comes off as calm, cool and collected in their posts. Here, they share a reel about others doubting the success of their small business.
The brand’s voice is also transparent as the owner, Janet Gwen, is very open about the reality of owning a company and constantly provides behind-the-scenes insights into her business, like when she shared her “drop test,” for packaging orders.
Eizzy Baby is relatable
Eizzy Baby, a small business that sells baby products is run by Assie Khoussa, a mother and entrepreneur. Eizzy Baby’s brand voice is relatable and funny, as Assie posts about the ups and downs of motherhood.
Here, she shares a reel about snacking before bedtime that can resonate with moms everywhere.
Assie’s Instagram followers find that she comes off as genuine and authentic, words that perfectly describe Eizzy Baby’s brand voice.
As these examples prove, your brand voice isn’t limited to just written posts but can inform the various media you create.
We hope this article has helped you brainstorm a distinct brand voice for your online content. As you're crafting your various posts, remember you can use Buffer to stay on top of all of your social media needs! ➡️