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5 Steps to Creating Your B2B Brand Voice

KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • Branding is, in essence, a way to create an image or personality around your company. It is a concept that the most successful brands implement and invest in.

  • Before you begin crafting or stylizing your brand voice, it is imperative that you first understand who your messages are targeting.

  • Identifying and understanding your brand mission, identity, and objectives will take you a long way toward creating an authentic brand voice.

  • When you’re ready to begin crafting your voice, the three steps to consider are to: Conduct An Audit, Build Your Brand Persona, and Eliminate Jargon.

  • The best way to ensure that your brand voice stays on the mark is to create a style guide. This invaluable tool is a set of standards for the writing, formatting, and even graphic design of your brand communications.

As a B2B business owner, you’re used to the idea that you work directly with business day in and day out. But despite how true this is, it can be a very misleading perspective that causes many businesses to forgo the development of a unified brand voice.

You see, while your products or services are designed to cater to the needs of other businesses, ultimately, who you’re really marketing to are people. And this is where a strong and effective brand voice comes into play.

A business, as an entity, cannot make a decision to seek out your services or approve the work you’ve submitted. Those tasks fall to the real live humans working in those businesses.

Understanding this distinction is very important, because when marketing to the people who run or own those businesses, suddenly, it makes sense to add that human element.

Now, you’re no longer loading up your website with characterless SEO and meta content for search engines, you’re also creating a brand voice, and cultivating brand loyalty from your customers. However B2B they may be.

You may sell to businesses, but your customers are humans. They respond to content that informs and entertains them. With a unique brand voice, you can grab customers’ attention and make them want to continue the conversation.

In this article, we’ll cover the importance of creating and cultivating a relevant and effective brand voice for your business, as well as provide a few steps to get you started on creating yours.

Why Is Brand Voice Important?

Branding is, in essence, a way to create an image or personality around your company. It is a concept that the most successful brands implement and invest in. One need only think of FedEx, MailChimp, or even GoDaddy to find examples of B2B businesses who have invested in their brand voice.

But is it really that important?

Turns out that it absolutely is.

That is because while many people claim that the age of brand loyalty is dead, the truth is that it is still alive and well. And the fact of the matter is that happy customers are more likely to recommend your brand or services. In today's world of online reviews, that word of mouth advertisement and endorsement is more important than ever.

Are B2B And B2C Brands Really That Different?

There are some fundamentals that every marketer, or anyone who hires a marketing firm, should know. The difference between business-to-business (B2B), and business-to-consumer (B2C) marketing is one of those fundamentals.

The two practices are exactly what they sound like. Companies that sell their products or services to other companies (B2B) have a much different task at hand than companies that sell products and services to consumers (B2C).

One difference between marketing to consumers and businesses comes in psychological strategies. Selling soccer balls and selling copy machines require vastly different psychological approaches.

Typically, B2C messaging is generally written to appeal to and be understood by the lowest common denominator, while B2B writing and messaging are a bit higher level, a bit more brainy, even college-level when the prospect is presumably well educated.

This is an important differentiator to keep in mind when drafting your brand voice.

Read more on our blog B2B vs B2C Marketing: How to Choose the Right Strategy for Your Business.

How to Create a B2B Brand Voice

1. Identify Your Target Audience

Before you begin crafting or stylizing your brand voice, it is imperative that you first understand who your messages are targeting.

Knowing your audience will help you get a better understanding of their wants, needs, and pain points, allowing you to focus your messaging around the solutions they are searching for.

Understanding your audience also allows you to better determine the technicality of your writing. Is your client-based tech companies, architectural and zoning firms, or other companies in search of highly-niched and specific services that require a more sophisticated tone?

If so, feel free to pepper your content with industry-specific jargon and phrases that they will be familiar with, and that showcase your knowledge and understanding of their needs.

Are you marketing toward more businesses in need of more general needs? In this case, a personable brand voice that speaks to your expertise without being weighed down by over-utilized and meaningless jargon will showcase your company’s transparency and confidence in the work it delivers and is more likely to resonate with key stakeholders and decision-makers.

A good exercise to help you identify the proper tone for your brand voice is to research the customer base you would pursue. See how they interact with their own brand. Are they serious and sophisticated? Irreverent or playful? Matter-of-fact and informative?

This exercise may help you understand what it is that your target audience values most so that you can better adapt your own voice.

Taking it a step further, research who it is exactly that you are targeting, beyond the brand. What are their roles? Do you need to get in with the office managers or HR? The CMO or CFO?

This act is what is referred to as creating a buyer persona. Understanding your buyer persona and their roles, daily tasks, pain points, and the way they would interact with your product will help you be better prepared for any pushback or rebuttals you may encounter.

2. Understand Your Brand Objectives

Now that we’ve taken a look externally, let’s flip the script and draw our attention inward. Identifying and understanding your brand mission, identity, and objectives will take you a long way toward creating an authentic brand voice.

For example, if part of your mission is to simplify the process for your customers, you’ll want to employ a more down-to-earth voice with a simpler vocabulary devoid of complicated jargon and technical writing.

If your goal is to establish your company as the preeminent solution offering the highest quality solutions, you’ll want to steer toward a more assertive and confident tone.

3. Craft Your Brand Voice

Conduct an Audit

And now you’re ready to begin crafting your voice. Begin by conducting an audit of your existing content, highlighting the aspects that represent your company correctly and taking note of the words and phrases that just don’t work.

Build Your Brand Persona

Now is the fun part. Interview your brand. This might sound odd at first, but what better way to uncover your ideal brand voice than to ask probing questions? Think of this as a personality quiz for your brand. Is it authoritative and confident, personable and relaxed, or even quirky and fun?

Eliminate the Jargon

Unless you are one of the companies which rely on the use of buzzwords, this is the time to purge your voice of any fluff, jargon, buzzwords, or other such writing. Instead, find simpler, more authentic ways that would resonate with your customers to get your point across.

Are you delivering bleeding-edge software solutions to streamline operations, or can you help your customers get organized and improve productivity with easy-to-use file-sharing services?

4. Create A Styleguide

So you’ve identified and developed your brand voice. Congrats! It’s a huge step in the right direction. Now, when it comes to branding, the best marketers will all agree that consistency is key.

The best way to ensure that your brand voice stays on the mark is to create a style guide. This invaluable tool is a set of standards for the writing, formatting, and even graphic design of your brand communications.

Whether you have a new writer join the team, are freelancing work, or simply need a refresher to check your work against, a style guide allows you to establish and maintain a standard of style in order to deliver consistent communication across all your mediums, and despite who is doing the actual writing.

A great tool to include in your style guide is a “what we are vs what we are not” formula. This simple breakdown provides an at-a-glance look at your brand’s unique personality.

For example:

Our voice is conversational, but not familiar.

Our content is informational, but not educational.

Our tone is fun, but not funny.

Our company is tongue-in-cheek, but not irreverent.

Having a few guidelines like these allow your writers to know the boundaries and parameters within which to play with your brand voice. This enables them to create fresh, original copy while still remaining true to the brand voice you’ve created.