Your Brand Voice: The Power of Distinction


Defining your brand voice is a powerful way to cut through in saturated markets and build deeper connections.

So, why is it so often overlooked in a branding process?

Defining your voice can be a squishy, messy process at first. It takes a lot to know who you truly are and want to be—as well as who you’re not. Our take? It’s ALWAYS worth it—for brands of all shapes, sizes and varieties.

Whether you’re a smaller brand trying to cut through in a big sea of competition, a nonprofit or government organization with a complicated web of stakeholders, or you’re an established brand trying to freshen things up, working on your brand voice will support you in more ways than you might imagine before diving in.

What makes an effective brand voice? Consider these four fundamentals.

  1. It helps build trust.
    An effective brand voice builds trust with your audience by resonating with them on a visceral level.What insight do you have into their needs and their journey with you? How can you make it more about them and less about you? How can you be more vulnerable and include your audience? Will they respond to something more casual and funny or buttoned up and professional? Balance this insight with what feels true and authentic to your brand.
  2. It is clear, consistent and concise.
    When it comes to wielding words, a rule of thumb is to aim for clear over clever. Avoid muddling your message with turns of phrase and long, meandering paragraphs. Once you master your message, let it be ever present across all channels. Everything you write, from blog posts to social media captions, should be aligned, unchanging and continuous. Also, studies show that people need to see a message at least seven times before they remember it, so don’t give up too soon. If you’re sick of it, then it’s probably just starting to work.
  3. It is uniquely yours.
    The brand you build is made up by what you make true every day. From the smallest details to the big sky picture, it’s important to consider every interaction. The key to creating a distinctive brand voice–one that isn’t imitative or derivative–requires tapping into what makes your brand exceptional, extraordinary and you.
  4. It’s packed with purpose.
    What’s your “stake in the ground”? What’s the change you wish to see in the world? How does it start with you? What are the deeply held beliefs of your audience, and how do you wish you could set the record straight? While questions like these may seem more compelling than what your next social media post requires, there are benefits to keeping them in mind. Empty words are just that—empty. Considerations like these will help you create powerful content wherever your words are read. Most of the time, it’s not about what your brand brings to the table, but why.

Strong examples

Recess Sparkling Water

Tasting notes:

Strong takeaways and key points:
Recess makes quick work of transforming sparkling water from an aluminum can to a status symbol of wellness and aesthetic intrigue for the burnt out, the weary and the shoppers of Erewhon. With a certain airiness, they go past the “what” of their brand (bubbly water with a side dish of hemp) and get right to the “why:” Creating an antidote for modern times. Because we’re all too busy, our lives are too hectic and we all have too many tabs open—literally and metaphorically. All of a sudden, the stakes are higher. Now, the brand is about so much more than just beverages.

Cards Against Humanity

Tasting notes:

Strong takeaways and key points:
Cards Against Humanity doesn’t play it safe—and that’s why people love them. This crazed “Apples to Apples” spin-off has created such a standard for their brand that it would be wrong to do anything different. From the social proof on their homepage (“Bad” –NPR) to their community outreach, it’s clear that this is a brand that knows what they’re about. They’ve committed entirely to every quirk and oddity, demonstrating the power of going for broke with relentless personality.


Tasting notes:

Strong takeaways and key points:
While content writing is minimal for Away, their brand voice is still evident. Supported by sophisticated imagery with a touch of wanderlust, it’s clear to see the audience they’re after: Young, adventurous souls who aren’t afraid to stray off the beaten path in their travels—so long as their luggage matches their aesthetic. To let your voice come through in your brand, you don’t have to write an essay—Away is a powerful example. When it comes to a product-based business, it’s tempting to focus on the “what,” like the neutral hues of your newest suitcase line.

In spite of keeping their copy brief, Away’s brand voice stands out because they focus on what someone will actually get from becoming a customer—beyond the material. Someone who carries a bag from Away won’t be getting wheels that spin 360 degrees: They’ll discover an insatiable sense of adventure that’s undeniably cool. 

Death Wish Coffee

Tasting notes:

Strong takeaways and key points:
The brand voice for Death Wish Coffee is clear. This is the kind of coffee that rises above the frills of pumpkin spice lattes and frothy alternative milk. This is the kind of coffee that’s decidedly anti-Frappuccino—and proud of it. This is the kind of coffee for those who want to take part in the culture of coffee (and its caffeinating qualities) without subjecting themselves to anything that might call their badassery into question. Death Wish Coffee demonstrates a clear and comprehensive understanding of their clientele–not only how they want to be perceived but how they don’t. Supported by strong visuals, their brand voice reinforces an unmistakable attract or repel factor: Those that feel seen and understood by Death Wish Coffee will know it right away (and vice versa).