How do you make your ecommerce brand stand out?
There are thousands of online retailers, many of which are selling products and services similar to yours. Competition is growing ever fiercer, which can make gaining market share feel overwhelming and nearly impossible.
That’s where your brand voice comes in. The “brand voice” is more than a short-term marketing ploy or campaign to gain followers. It becomes the key differentiator that distinguishes your business from your competitors in the long haul.
How do you create the perfect voice for your ecommerce brand?
What is a brand voice?
A brand voice is a specific, defined tone, style, and language of your company. It’s used to create a connection with your consumers by building a consistent means of communication.
Today’s customer wants more than just a product. They want an experience and a lifestyle that surrounds that product. In fact, more than half of consumers buy based on beliefs, rather than on the product itself.
The products consumers purchase are the ones that come from brands that best reflect their own personality, style, and lifestyle.
Your brand voice expresses your business’s personality. It tells your consumer whether or not your company fits into the lifestyle they envision for themselves.
The brand voice becomes the foundation for the customer’s experience with your product and company.
When your brand voice matches the customer’s lifestyle, you’ve gained a loyal client or “brand fan.” This loyalty leads to improved customer experiences, better reviews, enhanced social proof, and greater depth and breadth of marketing. Ultimately, this generates awareness, creates repeat clientele, and grows your business to new heights.
A “brand voice” is what turns your product into a brand and your customer into a devotee.
So what can you do to create this sort of brand voice?
1. Speak to your audience
A business is not in business unless it has customers. Your consumer determines your sales and profits, and they define how they want their brands to speak to them.
Consider your target audience? Who are they? How do they talk and act? How do they interact with their brands? What does your audience care about? What will get them excited and engaged with your brand?
Imagine your brand is a person talking to your audience. How does your personified brand speak? What words does it use with your consumer?
Consider how the conversation between your brand and customer would sound. What does your brand say that engage your audience the most? What might it say that disengages your audience and would need to be reworked?
This can help you determine your brand’s tone and personality. Are you fun and goofy? Witty and sarcastic? Informative and direct?
Tip: Have members on your team act out the conversation between the brand and the customer. Take notes. It seems goofy, but it can help you better personify and hear what your brand actually sounds like.
2. Define your brand
Starting with the audience is even more important than looking at your own brand. How your brand interacts with its consumers tells you a lot about the values and personality of your brand.
You can use this as a jumping-off point to take a deeper dive into your own brand.
What is your unique selling point (USP)? What makes your product or service special? What is your brand most proud of?
You’ll also want to look at your business’s founding and mission, which are at the heart of any brand. Why was the company founded? What are the values and mission you live by?
For example, you have two toy brands. One has the mission to “create more fun for everyone.” It might want a goofy, fun-loving brand voice. The second has the mission “to provide all kids with a toy.” This might have a more informative and inspiring brand voice.
What can your brand voice reveal about your brand’s unique attributes and core values?
3. Acknowledge your competitors
You want your brand voice to differentiate you from your competition, so you don’t want to have the same voice as your competitors. You want to take a look at how your competitors are interacting with their audience to create a new, unique style.
What do your competitors’ voices sound like? How do they connect with the audience? What is and isn’t working?
Notice where they’re most struggling to interact with the audience.
You’ll also want to reconsider the audience at this point. What type of audience is a devotee to your competitor? How does that type of audience member impact their brand voice?
If your target audience is the same as theirs, you could take an opposite approach to your brand voice.
If you want a specific brand voice that is unique from your competitors’, how will that impact your target audience?
4. Consider your partners
Look at other brands you admire or with whom you partner. Why do you work with them? Why do you like them so much? What do you like about how they market their brand?
Typically, your partners will have a similar audience and mission as you. Thus, their voice and tone might be similar to the brand voice you’re looking to create.
Create a list of “benchmark brands” that can help you determine what you want your voice to sound like. Don’t emulate them exactly, but use this as a jumping off point to figure out how your brand voice will play a role in the industry
5. Look at your language
Talk to your business’s team members. What words, phrases, terms, or acronyms do your team use frequently? Do you have any specific language nuances?
For example, maybe you all refer to revenue as “cha-ching.” Although you won’t necessarily use that term with your customers, it can give you an idea of how your brand already “talks.” Likely, using the term “cha-ching” shows that your brand is fun and playful.
Your slogan also says something about your business and brand voice. For example, Kit Kat’s slogan is: “Have a break, have a Kit Kat.” Their brand voice is about “having a break,” making their candy (and brand) an enjoyable vacation from everyday life. They have funny and playful commercials. If their slogan was, “The candy that’s good for you,” they’d have a very different brand approach.
Think about how the language of your brand will shape how you interact with your customers.
6. Create a style guide
The most important part of a brand voice is consistency. Your voice should permeate every aspect of your business both front-house (to customers) and back-house (amongst employees).
Your brand should always sound the same whether it’s a blog, product listing, customer service, social media comment, package inserts, website, email, video, or face-to-face interaction.
The purpose of a brand voice is to create a reliable, repeatable experience for the customer. They know they’ll get that same sort of style and personality no matter how they interact with your brand.
To create this sort of consistency, you’ll want to create a style guide. This is a documented strategy that goes over language, tone, design, and editorial best practices. It sets the standard for the specifics of how your brand voice sounds—and how your employees can embody this voice in the company culture.
Be as specific as possible. Offer specific words and phrases that embody your brand voice. Offer up suggestions for how employees should talk to their customers. For example, your style guide could include:
- Don’t say: “Contact us to learn more.”
- Do say: “We’re excited to chat with you!”
Keep in mind that this style guide will also set the tone for your organization’s atmosphere. A “luxury” style will breed a culture of professionalism, while a “playful” personality engenders an open and fun atmosphere.
7. Choose a voice leader
A style guide will give your team a general idea of what your brand looks like. It will also set the standards moving forward.
Like any sort of change management or campaign, though, you want someone leading the transformation. Having a “brand voice leader” can help train the team, keep them accountable, maintain consistency, and offer a face to a brand and encourages customers to trust the business. They can look over copy and campaigns to make sure all projects and channels are aligned.
The best way to choose a brand voice leader is to select someone who talks just like the brand does. Often, this is the founder or CEO, but it doesn’t always have to be. If you have a direct and straightforward tone, you don’t want the goofy and playful PR manager to be the brand voice spearhead.
The leader spearheads the consistency and depth of the brand voice.
If you want to differentiate your brand and connect with your audience, you need a unique brand voice. A consistent brand voice boosts brand awareness, engagement, and loyalty to generate a following of long-term brand fans.
In order to scale and grow, you need an established voice that will transform your business from a product to a brand.
It’s time for you to create a brand voice for your ecommerce business.
This is a guest post by Andrew Maff, Director of Marketing and Operations for Seller’s Choice, a full-service digital marketing agency for ecommerce sellers.