Is your content an incoherent mess of different styles and voices? Struggling to get your team all speaking with one voice? It might be time to do a brand voice audit.

I’ll show you exactly how to do a brand voice audit in a bit, but first let’s take a look at some examples of brand voice in action. Then I’ll show you how to create a brand voice profile for your content business.

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What is Brand Voice?

Brand voice is about the way the written content you create - from blogs to social media posts, to landing pages - conveys important information about who you are as a brand and what you’re all about.

Powerful Brand Voice Examples

To see the importance of having a coherent voice, let’s take a look at some highly successful brands and how their brand voice shows up in their content.

Smart Passive Income

Pat Flynn is the author and entrepreneur behind the Smart Passive Income blog and podcast.

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Image sources: Smart Passive Income

He describes himself as a family man and “not an expert” in passive income… he just likes to share the results of his own experiments with his community (he’s made over $3m dollars this way!).

Of course none of this is accidental, he’s deliberately created the image he wants to present because it makes him unique in his niche (e.g, he pioneered sharing income reports to demonstrate his success). So Smart Passive Income (SPI) needs a brand voice that matches this casual but proactive persona.

business brand voice
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SPI Brand Voice

Everything about Pat’s brand shows he’s casual and relatable. In his videos he uses informal greetings like “hey what’s up” and “I’ll see you around” to address his audience. It’s more like he’s talking to a friend than a client.

spi sample brand voice for your business
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And that voice comes across in all his written copy too.

He’s personal and has a casual tone, but is also confident and authoritative.

what works for brand voice
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And if we jump over to his YouTube channel we can see that same casual, confident and authoritative voice shining through:

sample business brand voice on youtube
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Pat uses all available space to put his brand voice into action, including video descriptions which he uses to provide additional content and promote his videos. Look at how he’s still speaking to “you” and how his discoveries will work for you.

brand voice on youtube
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Image Source: Pat Flynn

His YouTube About Page also shows his informal brand voice in action. We can see his voice shows he has an up-front, authoritative and experimental approach to serving his audience. Read the below copy and notice how all his word choices support his USP, which he outlines in the second paragraph.

sample brand voice on youtube
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This smart-casual brand voice even comes across in his social media links:

links brand voice
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SPI Blog Page

If we take a look at his blog page, we see more simple, direct copy written in a personal way.

sample brand voice on a blog
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His voice shows he is personal, authoritative and offers practical strategies for use right away.

I Will Teach You To Be Rich

Ramit Sethi’s business learning brand, I Will Teach You To Be Rich, has a different brand voice to SPI, again it’s one that fits Ramit’s unique personality and style.

brand voice of i will teach you to be rich
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He’s very direct and has a no-nonsense approach that’s all about busting myths and providing effective, easily actionable advice.

brand voice sample
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Focus on the “You”

Ramit is very focussed on addressing the reader directly. The word “you” is used very frequently… his voice is about your potential and what he can do for you.

focus on the brand voice
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He’s very conscious of his brand identity, so this voicing turns up everywhere. His squeeze copy is even written in the first person, from the prospect’s point of view…

brand voice on blog content
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His brand voice shows strongly in his blog content…

brand voice on your blog
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Image Source: Don't Be Broke

Notice how often he uses “you” words in the above screenshot.… six times in just three paragraphs.

This you-focussed language continues across his squeeze pages and product copy.

brand voice on products
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Image Source: Products

IWT is relating to an audience who want access to an inner-circle where they’ll get wealth growing tips that you don’t get anywhere else. This comes across in his brand copy, like when he’s encouraging people to “develop the deep inner skills of winners."

incorporating brand voice on product page
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Image Source: Products

Both SPI and IWT are similar content services, focussed on growing profitable businesses in innovative ways, but they have very different brand voices that make them stand out in different ways and appeal to different audiences.

Flynn’s audience are more focussed on freedom from the confines of work, whereas Ramit’s audience are more focussed on becoming wealthy.

Pat is upbeat and relaxed, Ramit is much more serious and hard-hitting. Both voices work perfectly for their audiences.

YouTube

If we look at IWT’s YouTube channel we see strong social proof and that no-nonsense style is still in operation.

brand voice on youtube i will
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Instagram

This direct, almost provocative voice comes across on IWT’s Instagram posts.

Again, direct, no-nonsense brand voicing.

instagram brand voice
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Image Source: IWT's Instagram

SUMO

SUMO
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With marketing automation brand Sumo we see a different approach to brand voicing than with the above two examples.

Sumo is not about a personal brand, it’s about an experienced team delivering results.

SUMO TEAM
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Image Source: About Sumo

Unlike SPI and IWT there’s more of a focus on larger brands. They use Phrases like “core devs” in the squeeze pages. It’s informal, but it’s more technical than the language on SPI, for example.

sumo discussion brand voice
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They have an emphasis on ease and automation.

sumo brand voice emphasis
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But there’s still a highly casual, easy-going tone to their voicing with phrases like “don’t miss the goodies” on their push signup popup (remember how brand voice is everywhere).

sumo signup brand voice incorporate
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Blog

Because multiple writers publish on the Sumo blog, the challenge of keeping content consistent requires a strong understanding of brand voice across the team.

ecommerce strategy brand voice
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The titles are simple and to the point, using phrases like “simple ecommerce strategies” and “find the perfect ecommerce marketing mix”."

brand voice on blog post
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Look at this blog post intro below. It shows how Sumo’s brand voice comes through even across different writers’ content.

ecommerce marketing mix post brand voice
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Compare the above blog intro with the one below.

brand voice in blog post
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The intros are both are structured in the same way, with a hook question to open, a one line solution to follow, then a preview of the advice covered in the article. They look like they were written by the same person, but they weren’t.

They’re writing to a formula, using the same language. Keeping it personal but professional, very focussed on being practical and informative. There’s less individual personality coming through compared to Pat FLynn or Ramit Sethi. There’s less of a need to entice their audience and motivate them. Their audience know what they want (to grow their ecommerce businesses), and they want highly informative content to show them how to achieve it.

Mailchimp

mailchimp brand voice
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Image Source: Mailchimp

Mailchimp is used by an extremely wide range of businesses of all different sizes, so their copy is friendly, informal, and as non-intimidating as possible!

A lot of people using the platform are at the very early stages of growing their business, and MailChimp’s voice reflects this with phrases like “be yourself on a bigger stage."

brand voice in mailchimp
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It presents email marketing as simply as possible, using phrases like “find your people” and “make it easy."

why use mailchim brand voice
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Image Source: Why Mailchimp

mailchimp twitter brand voice
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This inspiring, informal and simple language continues across their social media presence.

Notice how the phrase “reach your people” from their website is reused in their Twitter post copy?

Image Source: Mailchimp Twitter

mailchimp tweet brand voice
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Image Source: Mailchimp Tweet

And notice how that simple, accessible tone is still present? This is the power of having a consistent and identifiable brand voice.

How to Create a Brand Voice Profile

If you want a brand voice that articulates your USP and quickly identifies the values and skills of your brand you need to build a brand profile. You can use this to help content writers produce consistent content that speaks in your brand’s own unique way.

What You Are and What You’re Not


Knowing what you are also involves knowing what you’re not. Make a list of what you do and don’t represent, eg...

We’re serious but not humourless...

We’re approachable but not pally...

We’re confident but not cocky...

Here’s MailChimp’s:

brand voice mailchimp
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Create a Brand Voice Chart

Create a chart like the one below and list the top three traits that define your brand voice. Next to each once write a brief description of what the trait means in practice. In the Do box describe how to achieve this trait, and in the Don’t box list things to avoid.

Brand voice chart example:

Voice Trait

Description

Do

Don’t

Informal

We talk like we’re having a personal conversation.

Use natural, everyday language.

Use slang or swear.

Authoritative

We’re confident that our solutions work.

Cite authoritative, reputable sources where needed.

Brag or use technical jargon.

Inspiring

We find creative ways to encourage users.

Show examples of how people can achieve results quickly.

Make impossible claims.

Write Your Brand Voice Guidelines

You may have a really strong idea of your brand voice, especially if it’s your company. But what if you’re expanding and bringing on new team members? What if you hire an outside content creator? You need to be able to convey your brand voice so it always sounds the same even when content is written by multiple people. This is why you need to write brand voice guidelines you can share with people so they can understand how to write in your voice.

Developing Your Voice Takes Time

Even just being aware of the importance of brand voice by reading guides like this will make a big difference to how effectively your brand communicates. This is an ongoing process rather than something you’ll get right on day one. But take heart that you've started on an essential process that many brands miss.

So to recap, these are the essential elements of a brand voice audit:

  • Awareness of brand voice. This is an essential first step in developing your voice.

  • Regularly reviewing your content and analysing how effective your language is.

  • Making adjustments to your brand voice to ensure it perfectly conveys your brand values and delivers on your mission statement.

This process will be vital in building an engaged audience who value you enough to invest their precious time (and money!) in your brand.

What’s your hardest challenge when it comes to developing your brand voice? Let us know in the comments!

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