Being Heard: How to Find Your Corporate Voice
When a new company starts to develop its corporate brand, it often focuses on creating a logo and selecting a colour palette. Sometimes a company will extend its brand development to other visual elements - such as typography and custom graphics - and on the rare occasion it may even develop some key messaging or a tagline.
Hardly ever does a new company consider its corporate voice, often leaving this essential element up to individual employees to create on an ad hoc basis.
If you consider one of the main purposes behind corporate branding - to consistently represent your company so it becomes instantly recognizable to customers, suppliers, employees and community stakeholders alike - it's surprising that more focus isn't put on this key piece of the overarching business brand.
This is particularly puzzling in an era where more emphasis and expectation is put on companies to be present and relevant on social media; there are so many opportunities for a company to gain from the cumulative effect of repeated and layered brand encounters, it is surprising that this is so often overlooked.
So What Exactly Is Corporate Voice?
Corporate voice goes beyond your company's tagline, key messaging or sales brochures.
Corporate voice is the way in which a company converses with its audience; it's the public-facing tone, phrasing and feel of the business.
So when it comes to a company's corporate brand - the presence it publicly presents - corporate voice is just as important to the company's personality as the visual elements.
Why Consistent Corporate Voice is Important
Consider for a moment what might happen if you were to have five employees all making social media posts on behalf of your company. Would all the posts sound similar? Or would they vary? Is it possible that one might be lengthy and serious while one might be short and full of emoticons?
Now imagine that you are a prospective customer who is viewing these posts.... Would you know what was important to the company? Would you know what to expect if you were going to deal with the company? Or would you think the company was disorganized?
In order to build trust with your customers, you need to communicate to them what they can expect when dealing with your company. The best way to do this is to present your company in a consistent way through imagery, messaging and your corporate voice.
Types of Corporate Voice
There are as many types of corporate voice as there are types of people. Just as each person has a unique personality, so too does each company.
For example, a corporate law firm with a professional presence may have an intellectual corporate voice that is somewhat devoid of colour, while a hair salon with a friendly presence may have a chatty corporate voice full of fun.
A company's corporate voice doesn't need to be reflective of its industry, however. It is possible for a corporate law firm to have a conversational voice while a salon can have a conservative voice; for a company to set its voice, the only rule of thumb is that it should make sense for the type of business, products or services it provides, its workforce, and most importantly, for its customers.
Setting Your Own Corporate Voice
The most important consideration when setting your corporate voice is your target audience. At the end of the day, no matter how closely your corporate voice resembles your vision of your company's personality, it has to resonate with prospective customers.
Not only does your voice need to appeal to your target audience, it also has to be perceived as authentic. It's not enough to set a corporate voice you think will work, you have to consistently apply it throughout your organization so it becomes ingrained in every brand encounter your customers have with your company.
So how do you set your corporate voice?
To set your corporate voice, brainstorm words that describe the personality you envision for your company, as well as the personality of its founders. Is your company fun or serious? Is it aloof and professional or is it friendly and engaging? Does your company like to embellish with graphics and colour or is it streamlined with a conservative palette?
Once you have generated a list of descriptive words you feel best represent your company, you can put together the general "feel" of your business and the voice it will use to engage with your audience.
Subtle Variances in Your Corporate Voice
Now that you have put together your corporate voice and the general tone you present to your audience, you should consider the nuances your voice should have on different channels. For example, the voice you use on your social media channels may be slightly more conversational than the voice you use on your website, and the voice you use in your press releases may be far more official than your sales presentations.
Simply put, your corporate voice can have slight variations that are situational, just like how a person may use different language or tone depending on who they're talking to.
The moral of the story is that your corporate voice is an essential element of your overall corporate brand, and helps identify and build trust for your company in the eyes, and ears, of your customers.
If you need help with developing your corporate voice or developing your corporate brand, send us a note - we'd be happy to lend a hand!