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How to make a brand voice chart in 5 steps: A guide to showcasing your unique brand on social media, plus expert tips
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How to make a brand voice chart in 5 steps: A guide to showcasing your unique brand on social media, plus expert tips

Social Media
April 16, 2024
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To stand out on social media, highlighting your brand’s personality is crucial. A consistent brand voice makes your content unique and recognizable across all company (or client) communication channels. Creating a brand voice chart is a simple way to summarize your brand voice and related communication guidelines.    

Using expert tips, we’ve outlined a process to define your brand voice and design a guide that everyone on your team can follow to showcase your brand. 

What is brand voice?

Brand voice is a representation of a brand’s personality. It showcases a brand’s values and unique point of view, which should be consistent throughout all company communications (ads, social media, email, website, etc.). Brand voice makes a brand identifiable and showcases its area of expertise. 

“Brand voice distinguishes your business from competitors and personifies your mission, goals, and values through all communication mediums.” - Iryna Ravinska, Demand Generation Manager

What is a brand voice chart?

A brand voice chart is a summary of a brand’s voice. It lists and explains characteristics that describe a brand and includes tips for portraying brand personality to ensure consistent external communication. 

How to create a brand voice guide

Finding your brand voice involves reflecting upon company values, understanding your audience, evaluating successful content, and describing your personality. Your brand voice description and guidelines for external communication can then be summarized into a brand voice chart. 

“The essence of a brand voice is to foster a trusted relationship, conveying to our clients what they can anticipate from our organization and its product and services.” - Andre Myers, Manager of Business Development & Branding

For simplicity, we’ve broken down the process of finding your brand voice into 5 steps.  

Step 1: Review your mission & values  

First and foremost, brand voice guidelines should be aligned with an organization’s mission and values. Naturally, both are major components of a company’s personality and what makes it unique. Some words and phrases can be pulled from a brand’s mission statement and values to define brand voice characteristics.  

For example, consider Canva’s mission and values.  

Purple rectangles with illustrated hearts, stars, and cartoon people with text communicating Canva's values: "Be a force for good," "Be a good human," and "Empower others."
Purple rectangles with illustrated hearts, stars, and cartoon people with text communicating Canva's values: "Make complex things simple," "Pursue excellence," and "Set crazy big goals."
Canva's mission and values.

Canva’s mission of “empowering everyone in the world to design anything and publish anywhere” and its values of being a good human, empowering others, and making complex things simple, are seen throughout its inclusive, empowering, and clear style of communication. This showcases Canva’s friendly, encouraging, and honest personality.  

These characteristics become key components of creating an authentic brand voice and should be incorporated into all content. 

Take this Instagram post from Canva as an example. 

A clean desk with computer monitor showing Canva's dashboard next to an Instagram caption that communicated tips for keeping digital projects neat and tidy.p
Canva posts on Instagram to share 3 tips for organizing designs.

The content is casual and friendly, showcasing 3 simple tips Canva users can use to become more organized. It’s like getting advice from a friend encouraging you to try productivity hacks they’ve found helpful. 

“Brand voice and personality go hand in hand. To create your brand voice, you need a nuanced understanding of who your brand is, what it stands for, and how it’s portrayed to customers.” - Smriti Bansal, Content Marketer & Story Coach 

Step 2: Understand your audience  

In addition to knowing who you are as a brand, when creating your brand voice chart you must also consider who you’re talking to. For example, appealing to Gen Z on TikTok is very different than writing a news article targeted towards Boomers. 

The best brand voices are from companies that understand their audience. This includes basic demographics and behavioural information drawn from customer surveys, analytics, and other forms of research to develop buyer personas. This information helps create a brand voice that connects with target customers.

For example, Slack’s brand voice is very different than Microsoft’s. In these posts, both brands discuss AI

Microsoft's social media post about AI shows pie charts that communicate 37 percent of small-medium businesses invested in AI in 2023 and 70 percent will continue to do so.
Microsoft posts on social media about AI.
Slack posts a purple graphic on social media that says "Slack AI is here" with a sparkle emoji. The caption says, in part, "Say hi to Slack AI" with a waving hand emoji.
Slack posts on social media about AI.

Notice how Slack’s post is fun and casual, using emojis and short sentence fragments. Whereas Microsoft’s post is more formal, educational, and grammatically correct. Both are well-executed for each brand’s target audience. 

When creating a brand voice, thoroughly research your target customer, so your content resonates with potential customers.  

“The most important part of establishing a brand voice is deeply understanding your audience — not just their demographics, but their goals, likes and dislikes, communication style, etc. This will help create a brand voice that appeals to your ideal customer.” - Stephanie Yoder, VP of Client Services

Step 3: Evaluate top-performing content 

Before designing a brand voice chart, it’s also helpful to evaluate your best-performing content. This can be social media posts, blogs, landing pages, paid campaigns, etc. Review each piece of content and note any characteristics they have in common. 

Maybe content with humour or that follows trends stands out. Or your audience could prefer more thoroughly researched educational pieces. 

Incorporating elements of what’s already been successful in your brand voice strategy ensures it will resonate with your audience. Determine what can be replicated and aligns with your brand’s mission and values. This helps find the best brand voice adjectives to incorporate into your guidelines and future content. 

“The process for developing a brand voice will vary depending on the size and maturity of your organization. Understanding the language that resonates with your audience helps make informed choices about the voice and tone of your brand.” - Jacqueline Joyner, Brand & Social Marketer

Step 4: Describe your brand’s personality and tone

With everything you’ve learned from the previous steps, it’s time to describe your brand’s personality. 

To get your creativity flowing, Smriti Bansal recommends conducting brand voice exercises like answering the following questions: 

  • If your brand was a person, how would you describe them? 
  • What role do you play for your customers (a friend, advisor, motivator, etc.)? 
  • What traits and values does your audience identify with? 

Jacqueline Joyner suggests also using Nielsen Norman Group’s dimensions of tone of voice to see where your brand fits on the following 4 spectrums: 

  • Formal to casual
  • Funny to serious
  • Respectful to irreverent 
  • Matter-of-fact to enthusiastic

This should help create a list of characteristics that personify your brand. Nielsen Norman Group also has a list of tone of voice words you can use for inspiration. 

Ultimately, you want to settle on 3-5 brand voice descriptors for your brand that align with your mission and values, resonate with your audience, and are present in successful content. Define how each adjective relates to your brand and its style of communication.

Step 5: Design a brand voice chart 

Finally, it’s time to put together your brand voice chart. List the characteristics of your brand voice and include a description and "do and don’t" communication guidelines for each. 

A table showing HeyOrca brand voice characteristics: Playful, Cheerful, Intuitive, Intelligent, and Social.
HeyOrca's brand voice chart.

Your chart should become a brand voice template everyone in your organization uses when creating content. This brand voice document ensures consistent external communication, so everything sounds like it’s coming from the same brand. 

“The most challenging part of creating a brand voice is implementing it consistently. Therefore, you should prepare a document that explains the brand voice, its importance, and how to use it in different scenarios.” - Iryna Ravinska, Demand Generation Manager

Brand voice FAQs

Now that we’ve covered the basics, here are some FAQs related to finding your brand voice.  

Why is brand voice important?

A defined brand voice ensures your company is recognizable and builds authority within its sector. Brand voice is crucial in showcasing a company’s personality; it creates differentiation from competitors, ensures consistent communication, fosters greater connections with target customers, and simplifies internal content creation. - Iryna Ravinska, Demand Generation Manager

What’s the difference between brand voice and tone?

“The difference between brand tone and voice is that brand voice is what you say and tone is how you say it.” Brand voice portrays your unique personality and perspective to your targeted audience. It should align with company values and be consistent across social media and other communication channels. Tone is the sense of emotion created in a particular piece of content. 

For example, a particular brand can create content with a happy or sad tone and still have it sound like it came from the same company by using its unique brand voice. - Stephanie Yoder, VP of Client Services

What’s an example of a brand voice?

A great example of a company with a strong brand voice for social media is Wendy’s. Their viral content is rich with wit, cheek, and attitude. Another recognizable brand voice example is Lululemon’s friendly, encouraging, and confident personality. 

As a virtual healthcare software company, Fonemed’s brand voice is a little more professional. “Fonemed's brand voice aims to embody trust, reliability, and compassion through our service and technology offerings for our clients and their customers.” - Andre Myers, Manager of Business Development & Branding

What makes brand voice unique? 

A brand voice that reflects an organization’s mission, values, and personality helps it stand out. Similar to how no two people are alike, the same can be said about brand personalities. “Many companies forget that people connect with other people, not nameless, faceless companies.” Personifying a brand’s unique personality makes it feel like a person, strengthening trust and connection with its community. - Smriti Bansal, Content Marketer & Story Coach 

Brand voice marketing made simple

Brand voice development may sound complicated, but it doesn’t have to be. Hopefully, our guide has shown you how to find your brand voice and provided some helpful tips. Using brand voice and tone guidelines from your brand voice chart, everyone in your organization can showcase your brand’s unique personality on social media and all communication channels.  

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