Today, your brand tone doesn't need to follow a strict set of rules. Companies are allowed to have fun with their messaging; precise targeting on social and paid channels means you don't need to appeal to everyone.
Plus, people expect more of a human feel from brands in the digital age. As HubSpot noted, the emotions an ad evokes in viewers can be more influential on purchase intent than the ad content. Some of the most successful advertisers excel at appealing to emotion, whether through humor, utility, beauty or inspirational messages.
Determining the right voice for your brand can be tricky, though, especially if you want to be funny or irreverent. There's a fine line between striking a relatable chord with your audience and alienating them with tone deafness.
Here are some steps that can help you hit the right note with your branding.
Define Your Audience
This is a key first step because you'll want to have a keen idea of the personality type to which you're speaking, including their likes, dislikes, pain points and values.
If you're an established business, this can be as simple as engaging with your existing customers on social media or in person. Talking to them and paying attention to how they speak, the things they speak about, and how they feel about your brand can give you useful insights into the tone of voice that will resonate.
If you're a new business, think about the kind of person who uses your product or service. Are they practical or fanciful? Old or young? Traditional or contemporary? Building out customer personas can help you visualize the people you want to direct your messaging toward.
Find Your Inspiration
Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and it's also a great stepping stone to help you find your own voice. Find a brand that's in a similar industry and whose messaging you like, and try to emulate them.
You should take pains to avoid plagiarism or copyright violations, as these can put a dent in not just your brand, but your bottom line. However, there's nothing wrong with borrowing elements of another brand's marketing and making them your own.
The key is to mimic the concept, not the message itself. For example, if you're a fan of Wendy's ability to roast other brands on Twitter, as QSR Magazine described, maybe you sprinkle in some good-natured zingers against the competition in your website content (emphasis on the good-natured part).
Test Your Brand Tone
Once you come up with some ideas of what tone you should take, test them out by creating unique ad sets dedicated to a particular tone or message. You can do this on any ad platform, but many businesses like the user-friendliness and granular targeting abilities of Facebook.
Run your ad sets independently of each other, because Facebook and other platforms may auto-optimize ads within a single set for you. This can skew results by limiting the impressions of a particular message before it has time to gain traction.
Repeat this three-step process as often as needed until you have a brand tone that's memorable, unique and effective.