If this article caught your eye, chances are you’re wondering: “What makes an inspiring brand voice, and how do I create one?”
Here’s a simple exercise to get you better acquainted with what makes a memorable brand voice.
Think about a company that you respect. What qualities pop into your mind?
The qualities you associate with that company – whether intelligence, humor, warmth, approachability, or something else – are in part thanks to that company’s efforts to establish a distinctive and persuasive brand voice.
If they didn’t have a strong brand voice, it’s likely that you wouldn’t even be able to easily generate an image of “who” they are as a brand.
That embodies precisely why developing a strong brand voice is pivotal for your business. Without one, your customers won’t know who your company is as a brand and what it stands for. More importantly still, they won’t be able to decipher if your brand really knows who they are as a customer.
So how exactly do you create a clear and effective brand voice that stands out?
One way is to learn from other businesses who have gotten their brand voice down to an art. To inspire you to hone your own, below, we’ve analyzed the unique brand voices strategies of three successful subscription eCommerce businesses.
1. Stitch Fix Brand Voice
Stitch Fix is a popular clothing ecommerce service for men and women that offers both a subscription service and one-off purchase model. It offers customers customized clothing choices that have been selected by professional stylists based on their unique clothing tastes.
As a brand that targets both genders, as well as people with varying personal styles, budgets, and lifestyles, Stitch Fix’s brand voice strategy is faced with the mammoth task of accommodating a wide range of different customer demographics and preferences.
Let’s take a look at how they do it by zoning in on how they present their brand voice on their website.
As you’ll see, Stitch Fix’s homepage copy is quite minimal. The image above shows their homepage banner, which reads:
“Stitch Fix® is the personal style service that evolves with your tastes, needs and lifestyle.”
Their copy is short and sweet – a reflection of their brand voice as a whole.
Stitch Fix’s business model and “sell” is centered around the fact that their service makes finding new outfits a simple, quick, and enjoyable process. So when you think about it, it makes complete sense that their brand voice should adopt the same “no fuss” and approachable route as their business model.
Browse other parts of their site, and it’s evident that this to-the-point and no frills brand voice tone is carried throughout.
Take the separate website sections for men and women for example.
The banner image copy which greets visitors in the men’s section (as seen above) reads:
“Save time. Look great. The personal styling service customized to your fit, lifestyle & spending preferences.”
Compare this to the banner copy in the women’s section (as seen above), which reads:
“Clothing and accessories hand-selected by a personal stylist, delivered to your door.”
The text is indeed different, but the tone and message – and thus, the brand voice – remain the same.
That is, instead of creating two different brand voices for these two demographics, Stitch Fix has a uniform brand voice which in effect targets both their female and male customers, as well as their customers’ distinct buyer intents. This is significant as many people assume that marketing strategies must be gender-based. However, Stitch Fix shows that this isn’t necessarily the case – that a company can focus more on creating a holistic brand voice that encompasses both genders’ needs.
Stitch Fix establishes their uniform brand voice by reflecting their service’s three main – and universal – benefits in their brand copy.
Namely, that the company offers:
- Stylish clothes
After all, those three elements directly tap into their diverse customer bases’ needs. Just think about it:
Why would both people who love shopping and people who hate it use a service like Stitch Fix? The convenience of saving time by having clothes delivered straight to your door.
Why would both fashionistas and those who don’t have a clue about fashion choose to leave their fashion choices in the hands of a stranger? Because whatever your level of fashion, the outfits are customized according to your tastes and lifestyle and with the help of an expert, you’ll end up with a stylish outfit.
So how do brands with broad customer bases like Stitch Fix even identify who they should target with their brand voice, and what type of brand voice will subsequently match? After all, with so many different customers to cater to, it would be a challenge to establish one that most of their customers will relate to (and will not alienate too many customers).
One popular strategy is to create user personas.
If you’re unfamiliar with the term, user personas are created to help companies work out how to most effectively tap into their customers’ needs and tastes.
User personas are detailed profiles that are created about a company’s target customers. However, they are not only used to assist companies to identify their target customers – user personas can also affirm who companies shouldn’t market to.
Based on their brand voice, we imagine that if Stitch Fix did indeed make user personas, they would be quite diverse, with each persona representing a different:
- Shopping habits (e.g. one who loves shopping, and one who hates it)
- Jobs (e.g. one who has a 9-5 job, and one who is a stay at home parent)
- Interests (e.g. one who has weekend brunches with their friends, and one who plays video games)
The above traits represent just some of the information that you can include in your company’s user personas.
Yes, your company can (and should!) create its own user personas. They will help you develop a clearer idea about the direction you should take with your brand voice, and the potential it can have. And the good news is that user personas can be used by companies of all sizes, industries, and budgets – not just highly profitable companies like Stitch Fix!
What’s more, they really aren’t as difficult to create as they first appear – if you’re going about it yourself, simply follow a user persona guide for instructions and tips. Once you spend some time honing your user personas, the reward of identifying who you should really be targeting with your brand voice (and who you shouldn’t!) is well worth the effort.
2. Dollar Shave Club Brand Voice
If you haven’t already heard rave reviews about Dollar Shave Club’s innovative eCommerce business, here’s what you need to know:
Dollar Shave Club is a California-based company that offers shaving products, such as razors and shaving tools, to customers on a subscription basis. Their subscription strategy is so successful that it is often highlighted as an example of the power of subscription marketing.
However, that’s not the only thing Dollar Shave Club is doing right. Dollar Shave Club’s brand voice is incredibly strong – it is well-known for its unique blend of punchiness, humor, and irreverence.
Browsing Dollar Shave Club’s website is certainly an enjoyable user experience. At every turn, there’s a sprinkling of their signature humor and approachable tone.
Their product descriptions are one area their brand voice shines through most. Take the product description for one of their most popular subscription packages, “The Daily Essentials Starter Kit.”
Each of the individual product descriptions for the five products featured in this starter kit include all of the necessary information a customer needs to know, such the product’s:
- Product overview,
- Features, and
However, in line with their brand voice, humor is also intertwined naturally throughout the copy, as we have highlighted in blue. What makes the way Dollar Shave Club imbues their humorous brand voice so skillful is that it enhances, not detracts, from their copy.
Their brand voice isn’t just arbitrarily included – it matches their overall branding efforts as a fun, jokey, and approachable brand. It also provides further information that is useful to customers.
Here’s a “translation” of what their humorous writing is really saying:
- “This blade comes from the future and lives in outer space.” = Our blades are technologically advanced.
- “Tested on interns, not animals.” = We don’t test our products on animals
- “An emotional tranq dart to your neck.” = Using our Calming Body Cleanser will make you feel comfortable and at ease.
- “#1 way to clean up after #2.” = Our One White Charlies are the simplest and easiest way to clean up after a trip to the bathroom.
Needless to say, their brand voice wouldn’t work for every brand out there. It would most definitely feel out of place in the product descriptions of their competitor Gillette.
As you can see in the product description for the Gillette Fusion5™ ProShield above, Gillette’s copy is characterized by a to-the-point and serious brand voice. They reflect their brand voice in their information-rich and non-embellished copy. Not a hint of humor here, folks!
The reason is that their branding – and as a result, their brand voice – is focused on portraying their razor brand as the most technologically advanced one on the market. The serious tone of their brand voice therefore matches their straight-edged branding vision to a tee.
On the other hand, Dollar Shave Club’s brand voice matches their objective to be a relatable brand – akin to being their customer’s (virtual) best friend. A brand that tells makes you laugh and tells you the truth, but at the end of the day, delivers you the products you want.
This comparison of two brands in the same industry with two distinct brand voices demonstrates the power of molding your brand voice, and thus, your product description copy, to your customer base.
Maybe you’re a brand that, like Dollar Shave Club, would benefit from using humor throughout your copy to engage your more audience. Or perhaps it would be wiser to adopt a more serious tone like Gillette.
It all comes down to knowing who your target customer is and what they will respond to best. So when you are trying to decide whether to use humor in your brand voice, you need to pinpoint a brand voice strategy that will work most effectively for your particular brand and audience.
3. Love With Food Brand Voice
Love With Food is a subscription-based healthy food business which touts two primary brand objectives and values. Encompassed in its brand promise that it is, “The easiest way to Snack Smart and Do Good,” the company not only aims to deliver healthy snacks to customers on a monthly basis, it also aims to fight childhood hunger in the US and around the world by donating a portion of their revenue to relevant initiatives.
Love With Food communicates both of these values in their brand voice, which is characterized by a positive, informative, and altruistic tone.
Thanks to their brand voice, anyone who engages with the company’s communication channels will naturally develop an image of the company as a brand that is not only concerned with the health of their customers, but also the health of those less fortunate.
For instance, on the homepage banner, you’ll find such keywords as:
- “junk-free snacks”
- “help fight childhood hunger”
- “All natural, organic or gluten-free snacks.”
- “Meals are donated to a food bank each month you’re a member and for each purchase you make.”
Note the emotiveness of these featured keywords. The emotiveness encourages customers to form a certain impression of the brand that more simple descriptors would fail to.
Below their banner is a features and benefits section (pictured above), which also adheres to their very specific brand voice. It communicates to customers that they can save time and money, and shop conveniently for delicious “junk-free snacks,” all the while doing good for others.
These are all attributes their customers are looking for in their brand – and so the company makes it clear through their brand voice that these are values Love With Food also holds.
So what can we learn from Love With Food’s brand voice efforts?
That brand voice has powerful implications for your company’s branding as a whole.
Love With Food’s brand voice positions them as a delicious food brand with a social conscience. Their brand voice says “we aren’t just another money hungry conglomerate” – we actually care about our customers, and society as a whole.
Given the competitiveness of their industry, anything that can make their company stand out will give them a competitive edge. That’s why their brand voice is so powerful – it makes their company unique and memorable.
Now let’s turn the tables: how is your brand voice working to set your company apart?
Does your brand voice just blend into the sea of other brand voices in your industry? Or does it work to cement your brand as a company with a one-of-a-kind vision?
Is your brand voice a catch-all voice that speaks to every which person? Or is it properly focused on your target customers?
These are the questions you need to ask when creating or modifying your brand voice to better suit your company’s purpose and your customers’ needs.
A company’s brand voice is a means of communicating what that brand values. The three companies we analyzed above have all demonstrated the power of brand voice, as well as its implications.
Now that you have some inspiration, it’s time to hone your own. If you’re not sure where to start, don’t rush. Creating a brand voice is a process, one that requires ample time, effort, and research.
The most important thing to remember is that your brand voice should be a genuine reflection of both who you are as a brand, and also who your customers are as both consumers and individuals. Ensuring this will help you establish a brand voice that takes your company to the next level, and has your competitors scrambling to keep up.