September 1, 2023

Brand voice: The perks of (not) being a wallflower.

Emma Lane

Marketing Intern

We all know it’s true: Presentation is everything. With the right packaging, the simplest of ideas can become a runaway hit. But what many brands don’t realize is that they’re phoning in one of the most important (and fun) facets of how they present themselves: their voice. When crafted intentionally, a brand voice adds personality and polish – while a lazy one can drive your audience elsewhere. So how do you weaponize your brand’s personality? Here are a few ideas from the brands that do it best.

What is a brand voice, really?

More than just words on a page or “key phrases” to throw in for flair, a brand voice is the mouthpiece of your organization’s personality. The most authentic brand personas are the ones born from the company’s mission statement, goals, and values. The same holds true for your brand voice. After all, if it walks like your brand, you probably want it to talk like it, too. 

And talking the talk means aligning your brand voice with the Three C’s: consistency, clarity, and confidence. These lay the groundwork for creating a tone of voice that is recognizable and identifiable to audiences – and commitment to the bit IS mandatory. This requires maintaining a consistent presence on every platform, knowing the language you embrace – the language you don’t – and capitalizing on your target audience’s unique interests.

Who’s killing it?

For a masterclass in brand voice look no further than Nike. Even just the name probably conjures a particular tone of voice, right? Empowered, succinct, assertive. If you see a piece of media that embodies these qualities, you’ll recognize it’s Nike before ever seeing a logo. That’s the power of a brand voice in action. You choose your words wisely, so you can come alive off the page.

And fewer brands are more alive than Duolingo, which needs no introduction. Taking the TikTok and Twitter (X, smh) world by storm, the team behind Duolingo’s brand voice has taken an equal and opposite approach to a legacy brand like Nike. Their M.O.? Flocking to your feed with calculated chaos. Given one tweet, you could recognize Duolingo from their witty tone, use of slang, and generally aggressive persona – and their high engagement proves their audience resonates with this strategy. 

In my opinion, both of these examples exude a secret (but not unimportant) fourth C: commitment. Nike is a globally renowned brand because it embodies a brand voice that is aspirational and trustworthy. Duolingo rebuilt its brand from a friendly language-learning app to a self-described “unhinged” marketing giant by buying into a unique voice. These wildly different, yet equally committed approaches to brand voice demonstrate that when you show up unapologetically, your voice has the power to not only capture new sales – but capture the hearts of your audience.

So … now what? 

Take a note from Nike, Duolingo, and our dear friends at DUDE Wipes. When crafting your brand voice, make sure it checks these three boxes. 👇

  • Make it ownable
  • Make it resonate
  • Make it relational

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