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Brand Voice: Amplify What Makes Your Brand Unique

Brand Voice: Amplify What Makes Your Brand Unique Article Featured Image

Louder, please

In the crowded marketplace of our fast-paced, distracted world, it’s imperative for your brand voice to embrace a distinct and identifiable personality that strikes the right note and can be heard above all the background noise of other marketing. Here’s how one brand is making its voice heard.

When bottled-water company Liquid Death entered the oversaturated retail water market, the brand appealed to its young, rebellious audience with a bold statement: “We’re just a funny water company who hates corporate marketing as much as you do.”

Every water brand on the market claimed to be healthier, purer, and even smarter. So what was left for this late challenger to claim? That their water is wetter? With dark humor and a heavy-metal mosh-pit mentality, Liquid Death turned heads with its mountain water in a can (aimed at eliminating plastic pollution) and its brash, manners-optional brand voice. The brand even has a loyalty program with the option to “sell your soul” for Liquid Death swag.

Why brand voice is so important:

  • Today’s consumers want differentiated experiences and a personal connection with brands—so let your brand’s distinct personality shine.

  • Your brand voice can be authoritative, informative, fun, or even quirky—but it must be authentic; studies show consumers avoid brands if they get a whiff of insincerity.

  • If you don’t make an emotional connection with your customer, someone else will. Face-to-face transactions with verbal cues feel vanishingly rare in our digital world—your best chance to make someone feel something is by using the right words.

In the current landscape, successful brands achieve a harmony of a brand-appropriate tone alongside clarity, brevity, and consistency.

Once you accomplish that, be sure to document clearly what makes your brand voice distinct in a brand style guide. Then keep the right people in place to maintain your voice.

Tune up your brand voice

Let’s take it from the top. Your brand voice likely started with trailblazers—people invested in expressing your brand’s vision, mission, and core values. But a lot has changed in recent years, so it’s a good idea to gut-check if your company maintains the same business focus and embraces the same values and beliefs—especially if it’s been around a long time.

Has your brand shifted position in the marketplace? Do you sell the same products or services? Has your audience changed, and what are their key concerns? Is diversity, equity, and inclusion part of your company’s mission?

While you’re thinking about the details that give your brand a personality, keep your customers’ current perspective in mind. Above all—be authentic, be yourself. But don’t be tone deaf to what’s happening around us. Stay aware of the emotional impacts of current events—especially now, as we collectively navigate the rapidly—sometimes radically—shifting circumstances of our world.

At The Lacek Group, we often lead a brand archetype exercise with our clients to help them find or fine-tune their brand voice. Archetypes (e.g., the hero, the jester, or the magician) are universal, relatable depictions rooted in human behavior. Understanding which archetype, or blend of archetypes, your brand represents can clarify the personality that exemplifies your brand and brand voice. Classic examples of brand-connected archetypes include:


Nike, with its iconic “just do it” tagline, relies on a classic hero archetype. The Nike brand voice aims to evoke bravery, honesty, dedication, and persistence.


The voice of M&M’s candies never takes itself too seriously. Its messaging exudes optimism as it playfully invites consumers to embrace life’s small pleasures and celebrate moments big and small with a treat.


Campbell’s stands as the quintessential empathetic brand voice. Its voice evokes warmth, empathy, comfort, and selfless caring for those in need.

In our experience, companies often land on a combination of two archetypes, with one being the dominant personality for their brand. In that case, an archetype duo can serve the same function in guiding decisions about brand voice. Whatever the result, it’s a productive and valuable way to discover, articulate, and distill your brand voice. And, as a side benefit, it can be a dynamic team bonding experience.

Adjust your brand tone

Somewhere along the way, your brand voice probably was confused with its tone. Let’s clarify: Brand voice is the personality—the steady and consistent way you talk to your customers in a big-picture sense. Your brand tone is how you phrase your messages—and it’s equally important, especially for multichannel communications. For example:

Social media

Imagine your brand at a party telling stories or throwing out funny one-liners—all within appropriate bounds. Even if you have an authoritative brand voice, here’s where you might get a little more conversational and let your hair down with your tone.

Damage-control email

If your brand voice is all about fun, your copywriter might start an acknowledgment email with an “Oops, we goofed up.” But then transparency, honesty, and brevity might take over, e.g., “We published the wrong sale price in our May 15, 2022, weekly email. Our apologies for the error.”

Paid digital ads

Let’s say there’s a tragic story all over the local news about a spate of hospitalizations and deaths from heat stroke. If your latest local summer promotional campaign is titled “Beat the Heat,” consider pausing the campaign for a week or changing your message so your company doesn’t appear insensitive or unaware.

Finding the right note—an art and a science

Making sure your brand voice and tone are aligned with your company is the key to making meaningful and emotional connections with your audience. Lacek’s recent research reveals that today’s consumers have new expectations. They want to be addressed as individuals, they want relevant communications, and they want to support brands that share their values.

Staying in tune with your brand voice and on the melody with your tone (so to speak) will help you meet those expectations. Voice and tone are critical ingredients to harnessing the power of personalization at scale, real-time customer data platforms, artificial intelligence, and other methods of maintaining solid relationships and relevant experiences with your brand’s consumers.

Even something as foundational as A/B testing messages to see what resonates with loyalty members becomes easier and more conclusive when your brand voice is grounded in your company’s mission and values.

Update your songbook—aka your brand style guide

Once you’ve honed your brand’s current—or even aspirational voice—it’s time to revisit your brand guidelines.

Are you working from a dusty, dog-eared copy that’s been laying on your desk since before “PCR test” and “KN95 mask” entered our shared lexicon? When was it last updated? The Lacek team has helped many clients refresh their style guides—from overhauls after complete rebranding to regular, ongoing updates to reflect adjustments of language usage and design.

Though the urgency of day-to-day work can press in, don’t let your brand guidelines be the last thing on your list. Having an up-to-date reference document that reflects your brand’s voice and visual style will help your in-house team, your agency collaborators, and your brand partners produce accurate and consistent materials.

Brand storytellers’ perspectives on telling an authentic brand story

Rather than a dry description of the basics of brand voice—which you can find from a plethora of sources—here are the firsthand perspectives of some of Lacek’s copywriters and creative directors:

We’re this, not that

Every brand guidelines document has a section that proclaims, “we’re this, not that,” which is helpful. But also give us lots of successful examples of how the brand voice comes to life and how the brand tone can differ. Copywriters are like actors who need to practice their lines. Give us specific nomenclature to use or not use, legal language to avoid—anything that’ll help us best represent your brand when we put pen to paper.

What’s your story?

If you want us to get your brand voice right and be authentic, highlight your company’s story in the brand guidelines. Along with the vision and mission statement, that will guide us in being genuine and staying true to your brand voice.

Your brand voice isn’t a secondary color palette

I’ve studied 180-page brand guidelines that discuss every PMS color under the rainbow and every logo configuration imaginable—but only offer one or two pages on brand voice. Give your brand voice as much emphasis as your visual communications—if not more. And make sure they work together.

Help us talk the talk

Give us an updated glossary of terms and common expressions so we can easily reference them while learning the ins and outs of your brand voice. This helps us be precise and accurate, avoid jargon, and stay genuine—all of which may potentially save a round or two of copy changes.

Keep your team on key and in harmony

Once your brand guidelines reflect the most recent information, make sure all the right people have the latest version. Forcing creative teams to decipher outdated and stale brand guidelines will waste money and time—and potentially alienate your customers and prospects.

Keep in mind that it’s vital for everyone—your company’s CEO, in-house creatives, outside collaborators, and most especially your copyediting team (aka your “brand police”)—to understand and reflect your brand’s voice.

After all, brand voice isn’t just about loyalty or marketing. While most of your colleagues probably don’t need to know about the required half-inch of clear space around the logo, everyone from the front desk associate to the sales team and your customer service staff should be able to talk the talk about your company. Even your behind-the-scenes IT team should be able to articulate what your company stands for.

One way to orchestrate this is to create internal “how to talk about our brand” guidance for your employees. This could include everything from customer service scripts to how to answer specific questions about your company, products, or services.

Assign a brand manager whose job includes monitoring messaging. That’s a vital step whether your brand centers on a small Etsy shop or is the flagship of a Fortune 500 company.

Get your brand voice ready for its concert tour

Some of the most recognizable and identifiable brands in the world are successful because they speak to their customers with clarity and apparent ease. Their brand voice and tone echo their companies’ philosophy and values—and usually suggest their brand stands ready to make life easier or solve a problem.

Those emblematic brands make it look easy, but we know better. They worked hard to get their brand voice right, and that effort pays dividends.

Wherever your company stands in the race to be heard—whether you’re trying to reach wellness-focused yoga moms or heavy metal fans looking to hydrate between sets—now is the time to make sure your brand voice is tuned up and ready to sing for a global audience.

Shawn Sweeney is creative director for The Lacek Group, a Minneapolis-based data-driven loyalty, experience, and customer engagement agency that has been delivering personalization at scale for its world-class clients for more than 30 years. The Lacek Group is an Ogilvy company.