By Amy Greenway, Series Manager
How did we get here?
When I started college, social media was still in its infancy. Tom from Myspace and I were friends, Facebook accounts were limited only to college students with .edu email addresses, social media influencers were not a thing, YouTube stars were still in utero and if people wanted to take a photo of their lunch, they had to whip out a disposable film camera, drop off the film, wait for it to be developed and seven days later they could show off their foodie side to friends and family by scanning the image and uploading it in an email… instead of instantly posting it to Instagram.
Online advertising was also a fairly new concept. The loathed pop-up ad was non-traditional advertising that I studied in school– yes, I paid money for someone to teach me how to annoy you.
But by the time I graduated and found a job in the field, the social media age completely revolutionized the way brands reached consumers. Brand personality (or brand voice) suddenly became more important than ever before to cut through the clutter.
Prior to social media, developing a brand was pretty much a “set it and forget it” exercise.
A few great ads? Got it.
A brand voice was confined to expertly crafted sales scripts, print, radio and possibly TV advertisements. But, how times have changed. (Do I sound like your grandpa explaining that back in his day they had to walk five miles to school in the snow uphill…because I feel like it!)
Now, businesses are expected to write press releases and social media posts while reviewing responses on an hourly or up-to-the-minute basis. They must react on the fly to a flurry of tweets and news stories, post striking images that jump off the feeds of Instagram and design specific content to encourage engagement on Stories. And all of this needs to happen while keeping a consistent brand personality, often through multiple account managers.
More than ever, establishing a strong brand personality and identity is arguably one of the most basic and important steps brands can take to become relatable to customers. Developing that personality transforms a brand from just a logo on a page to someone who customers can see themselves hanging out with.
In the spirit of social media, I want to share a Buzzfeed-style top-seven list of what brands can do to help identify their voice to better connect with customers that will come in part 2 of the blog. But first, we need to identify what a brand voice is and why it is important.
WHAT IS BRAND PERSONALITY (VOICE)?
First, what exactly is a brand voice? I like using the word ‘personality’ in place of voice because it further humanizes the brand. A brand personality allows customers to get a feel for the core values and mission of a brand, communicating its story, standards and central message.
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT?
Now that we established what a brand personality is, we need to know why is it important to have one.
Having a distinct voice helps to humanize a brand, and in turn, makes it easier for people to relate to, and connect with, your company. For example, I follow Wendy’s on Twitter. When I talk about the tweets, I now associate it as a gender to the brand and refer to “her” tweets. I can see Wendy and I hanging out throwing shade at our haters.
In addition to earning strong brand loyalty, developing a consistent brand voice across all media platforms gives fans a cohesive feel. Establishing a brand personality also differentiates brands from their competition.
In my past blogs, I’ve chatted about Conor Daly’s Twitch account. I love his Twitch and Twitter because he feels relatable, his personality shines through the content he is sharing. Unlike some other athletes, Conor makes me feel connected, like we are friends in real life. Yikes, I’m noticing a pattern of befriending brands online. Maybe quarantine has isolated me too much??
Now that we can identify what a brand personality is and why it is important, knowing how to develop the right voice for your brand. When it comes to social media, having an established identity will make it easier to decide what kinds of content to post on various platforms. We will cover that in Pt. 2 of The Cult of Brand Personality.