The success of a brand is linked, in 90% of cases, to achieving an emotional connection, a relationship, with its target audiences. It seems simple and well-known to anyone who is moderately close to the sector. However, how this is achieved is much more complex. After all, there are infinite ways of relationships, infinite ways of connecting. The most complex part is found in the definition of the relationships that add value in the brand-target binomial. How do you know which type of relationship is right? How do we define it? How will we know it’s valid? To answer these questions, one of the variables to consider in the construction of any brand, and with it the relationships it has with its audience, is the verbal identity.

Once we have defined the
essence of the brand
, through its strategic platform, it will be necessary to transmit it so that it is perceived in the desired way. The way a brand expresses itself is directly linked to its personality, its values and its attitude towards the environment.

For a long time, most brands have focused on building their visual identity, some have been concerned with sharing a culture, but very few have taken the firm step to integrate their own verbal identity within their brand strategy. Evidently, this apparently negative circumstance becomes an opportunity for all those who understand that the brand is the most important strategic asset for the Company.

Elements that Construct Verbal Identity

Verbal identity starts with one’s own name to arrive at one’s voice, tone and style. In other words:

  • Naming
  • Brand Voice
  • Brand Tone
  • Brand Style

The four elements are called to work in harmony.

In a previous post I already explained the benefits of a good brand name. That is the first pillar in verbal expression. This time we’ll focus on the Voice-Tone-Style trinomial. What’s the difference between them? Well, essentially, there is a single voice for the brand and multiple tones that define it.

  • The Voice is the description of the brand’s unique and distinctive personality. It is an adjective that directly alludes to their behavior and provokes an emotional response. As voice is expressed through communication, behaviors modulate your audiences’ expectations in their relationship with the brand. It can be fun like Innocent; exclusive as Dom Perignon; or inspirational like Vueling.
  • Tone refers to how the voice is used in different situations and with different audiences. In anyone’s life, we adjust the tone according to who we are talking to or according to the topic we are discussing; however, our voice remains. Tone allows us to apply empathy and let’s think that empathy is what makes the difference between exposing and connecting. It allows you to enhance the value of the message, and with it the value of the brand. However, the same tone can be valid for different audiences. For example, Movistar does not change its tone when it addresses individuals or companies, it is simply a matter of adjusting the content under the strategy of avoiding confusion.
  • Style is the set of rules on which messages are built. It includes those referring to the use of capital letters, abbreviations, use of vocabulary, etc. It is closely linked to the use of logos, fonts and images.

Principles of Verbal Identity Construction

  1. Voice is an expression of a company/product’s values and way of thinking through its brand. It can’t come out of nowhere, nor can it be based entirely on a trend of the moment. Rather, it must emerge from the purest essence of the brand. To decipher values, the first step is to understand what the company or product represents through its brand. Then, in order for values to be unique, they must be interpreted and described in a distinctive way.
  2. Values lay the foundation for identifying personality. If values are what you say, brand personality will help define how you say it. Just as people’s characteristics and qualities determine how others feel about them, the personality traits assigned to a brand determine how its audience feels about it. Brand personality refers directly to the human characteristics associated with that brand. These attributes are expressed as adjectives that convey how the brand relates to its environment, conditioning how it wants to be perceived.
  3. Finally, this personality will need specific forms of vocabulary that will bring it to life, this is the function of the tone of voice. It’s time to define the type of language we’re going to use (formal, informal, technical…), the grammar rules we’re going to follow (vocabulary, pronouns, tense, jargon…). All this will shape the style manual and must always contemplate the objective of each communication, the audience we are addressing and the channel we are going to use.

A simple way to identify the tone is from some guidelines that define the style we are going to use, what we can and cannot say. For example:

  • Content Type: What are you saying?
  • Reader: Who’s talking on this stage?
  • Reader’s feelings: What is the audience’s feeling when they are in this tone scenario?
  • The tone should be: use adjectives that describe how it should sound in this scenario.
  • Talking like this: giving a brief example of how our way of speaking/writing should sound.
  • Tips: Best practices for this scenario.

The ever-present and coherent verbal identity

Verbal identity, led by the voice of the brand, does not live only in external communication. It is something that has to be fully shared by the entire Organization, as it is part of the very essence of the brand. Every interaction should ensure that the brand is expressed in a coherent way.

The growing rise of branded content strategies makes addressing this aspect more important than ever. With a true strategic approach it is possible not only to define, but also to measure the emotional and behavioral responses of audiences. This aspect will be very valid to understand if the voice is expressing itself in the right direction. To do this, listening to and cyclically analysing the answers obtained will be essential.

Finding a tone of voice for the brand is confusing at first because the term itself is confusing. Voice is not a statistic that can be measured or a design that can be adjusted. It goes much further. Instead of measuring and analyzing, you can plan and practice.

 

Carlos Puig Falcó
CEO of Branward