You may understand the concept of branding, and you may have a general sense of how to go about it.
That said, starting the process sounds intimidating enough that you haven’t gotten started. This article is a brand voice template for your business.
It’s an outline of what you’ll need to create or audit your ecommerce brand to keep your written and visual voice consistent.
Let’s get started.
The Ultimate Brand Voice Template for Your Business
1. Why You Need a Brand Voice Template
2. Your Mission Statement
3. Do You Have a Brand Archetype?
4. Figure Out Your Audience with Buyer Personas
5. Create Your Brand Voice
6. From Brand Voice Template to Brand Guide
7. Brand Guide Examples
8. After the Branding Process is Complete
9. Be Consistent
Creating a brand voice template can sound intimidating. Most microbusinesses have too much going on to think too hard about branding. With a long to-do list, big-picture tasks like branding are often pushed off for more urgent issues.
When this happens, marketing for your business becomes reactive and inconsistent. It is easy to end up with different visuals and messages for every media channel and campaign. This is confusing and disruptive for your customer.
And small online businesses aren’t just competing with each other. You’re also competing against major international brands like Apple, Amazon, and Nike, brands with extensive human and technical resources. In this climate, how can your small business make sales and grow? Branding.
Why You Need a Brand Voice Template
Regardless of your online business, cultivating your brand voice matters.
What is brand voice?
Brand voice is what tells your brand’s story, it’s your business’ personality.
No doubt there are other entrepreneurs who have products somewhat like yours. What differentiates you from them is how you communicate about your brand – what you do, why you do it, and how your products work.
Your Mission Statement
Your mission statement may be a clear sentence posted on your office wall or a fuzzy cloud in the back of your mind at networking events. Either way, your mission is a good place to start, because it represents the values of your business.
If you don’t already have a mission statement, think about why you created your online business. Outline 3-5 different values that align with your brand and then how those values connect you with your readers and customers.
As you continue your brand research, pull in any historic or current content examples (website, emails, ad campaigns, social posts) that you feel represent the brand you want to be.
Look at your current online store and see if it’s time for a refresh. It’s also a good idea to reach out to your current customers about what they think of your communication.
Look at your analytics, and see what campaigns or other outreach have performed best with your customers.
Do You Have a Brand Archetype?
This is an infographic of brand archetypes. Take a look at this list, then jot down the top three your business identifies most with.
Take some time with the top three brand archetypes you chose, and get your team in on the conversation. Step into each archetype personality and write, sell, or conduct customer service from this tone. How would an Outlaw or a Sage approach customer service differently?
When I was building my platform I looked up to Marie Forleo. Although her audience focused solely on entrepreneurs (my segment was technically self-improvement), there was some overlap, and her values spoke to me.
I noticed the tone across her copy on her website. Before Marie, most authors, speakers, and coaches had a very businesslike approach. Nothing is wrong with that, but I was launching and building credibility around my story. So, it was important for me to find a brand archetype that infused her personal side into her work. Marie really did that for me.
Initially, I used the brand archetype of the nurturer. I empathized with hardships because my goal was to help people feel unashamed, especially victims of trauma. After a year of using this brand voice I got feedback it sounded victim-based or enabling.
That was never my goal for my brand. For any brand archetype, but especially for your microbusiness, it’s important to check in with your audience consistently.
It’s good to have a brand archetype in mind, even if from another industry. The point is to see how a brand archetype’s communication is brand-appropriate across all mediums and contexts. As you build your brand, think of it as a personality that will respond in a situational way.
Figure Out Your Audience with Buyer Personas
Before diving into your brand voice template, it’s important to be clear on your audience. Who is the most engaged with your product or service?
Within your audience, there are segments of gender, age, and lifestyle preferences. Create varied customer avatars to hone in on the actual people you are selling to.
Ask yourself, what keeps my customers awake at night? What leads them to read my content? What inspires them to make a purchase?
Create Your Brand Voice
Here are a few questions to help you brainstorm your brand voice before you get to writing copy.
I want to mimic the brand voice of _.
I dislike brand voices that sound _.
I want my brand to make people feel _.
I hope people _ when they come into contact with my brand.
Three words that describe my brand are _, _, and _.
Still feeling stuck? Start writing a blog for your business. If you’re a microbusiness, your brand is your personality, and it can be hard to step back and figure out how that translates to a brand.
Through blogging, you can get used to seeing your current brand voice from a new perspective. If you’re unsure what to write, start by responding to customer questions and concerns on your blog.
It can help you understand what story you are telling, what you may want to emphasize, and how to tweak your brand to align with your business goals.
You’ve probably been doing your own copywriting for your website, social media, emails, brochures, and product descriptions. Each channel should have a slightly different tone but should speak with the same brand voice. Create ideal examples for each one.
From Brand Voice Template to Brand Guide
Your brand guide is a playbook to empower everyone and anyone who communicates on behalf of your brand. With your brand guide, every employee or a freelancer who writes, designs, or sells for you will understand the DNA of your organization.
A brand guide was originally a way to steer creatives. It outlined the visual brand of the organization- colors, fonts, and brand values.
Today, with so many small businesses taking this on, it’s important to merge a design guide with best practices for brand voice. As your business grows it’s important to have your brand guide available to employees and subcontractors so no one goes rogue.
Developing your brand guide will take time, it’s reasonable to dedicate a quarter to this goal unless you have the luxury of focusing on this task alone. It’s also fine to admit you can’t do it on your own.
If you’re not sure how to pick the best professional for the job, this article can help.
Your brand voice template should include:
- Brand logo, size, and placement
- Brand message – 150 characters for each social channel
- Brand message – 300-500 character – who you are, what you are selling, and what problem you solve for your customers
- Color palette
- Brand elevator pitch
- Typography and fonts
- Photography/image style
- Web elements like landing pages and site design
- Components of a modern brand guide also can include:
- Templates and guidelines for creating advertising and other collateral like packaging
- Examples of ideal communication for all of your customer service touchpoints
- Templates for social media channels and your website. This is critically important if you outsource your social media or blog posts.
Brand Guide Examples
MailChimp is an expert at communicating consistently across all platforms. Because MailChimp is a leader in communicating their brand values in a fun, informal way, they’ve become very popular. If you need inspiration, check out their Voice and Tone guide.
Asana is a project management app we love, and their brand story is also an inspiring one.
After the Branding Process is Complete
Give your organization time to test and tweak your brand guide so that it is both accurate and beneficial to your business. A good brand guide can help establish trust, generate customer loyalty, and build profits.
Posting on social media, a/b testing with your newsletter, and Facebook advertising are all great ways to put your brand messaging to the test.
What makes you stand out to potential clients is how and what you communicate about your brand, but what makes them trust your brand is consistency.
Whether you’re sharing your brand’s story on your Ecommerce about page or you’re sending an email marketing campaign, your brand voice should be consistent. Even if you’re having a less-than-ideal day, your communication should reflect your brand values, not your current mood.
Now that you’ve gone through all of the steps, use this brand voice template to create a streamlined brand guide for your business.
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This post was originally published in October 2017 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.