Having a unique personality can help you stand out from your competitors. Here are some tips to spiff up your brand voice.
Some of the most memorable brands and brand experiences stick out because they've got a really cool personality in everything they do--from marketing to customer service to packaging. Virgin America, Bliss, Zipcar, and ModCloth are some of the companies that I think do a really good job of having a consistent, unique company persona.
As I've mentioned in past posts, my online marketing company, VerticalResponse, is going through some big changes. And one of the things that will need to evolve is our brand voice.
Let me set the record straight: I love our current voice. From the beginning, when I launched the company in 2001, I knew I didn't want VerticalResponse to be another stuffy San Francisco software company. Our customers are small businesses who wear a million different hats, so we needed to talk to them in a way that was approachable and friendly.
Our voice has changed a bit over the years, but it's still pretty informal. We tell it like it is and we try to be as helpful as possible. I think our customers appreciate that.
But with the new stuff on the horizon, it was clear that our company personality needed a little refresh, and we're working through the process now.
If you're in the same boat, or just need some help to define your voice, here are a few ideas:
1. Create an idea board and get all your employees to contribute.
The new brand is going to touch every single person in your company. So it's important that everyone gets to put in their two cents. Clear out a big wall in the office and have your employees tape up examples of brands they like and jot down why. We did this at our own office and it led to some great insights on where we, as a company, want to be.
2. Identify an individual or celebrity that epitomizes your brand.
Public figures are experts in creating personas for themselves, so why not leverage it to help you define your company's personality? Do you want to be funny and approachable like Ellen DeGeneres, an expert at something like Warren Buffett, or witty and a little sarcastic like Jon Stewart? Then you can start applying the question, "What would (insert celebrity) do?" to various practices and communications throughout your business.
3. Put it down in writing.
Every department and employee will need to know not just what the new voice is, but how to apply it to what they do day to day. Put together a "voice and tone" document with examples of what a customer support rep might say based on questions being asked, what kind of language a writer producing content for your blog or site can use, tips for social media content, etc.
Going through a re-brand ain't easy, but companies do it all the time with great success. If you have any branding tips, share with us in the comments below!
JANINE POPICK is the CEO and founder of VerticalResponse (a Deluxe company), a leading provider of self-service email and event marketing, online surveys, social media, and direct mail solutions. The company was ranked No. 2,802 on the 2012 Inc. 5000. @janinepopick