When you’re starting a business, you want to define both who you are as well as who you are speaking to -- whether this is through copy, visuals or the product/service you are offering.
Lucky for you, we’ve designed a guide to help you answer that question throughout the life of your business, sponsored by FedEx.
1. Explore Likes and Dislikes with Digital *and* Physical Mood Boards: First, create a shared space online where you and whoever else you’re working with can add images that speak to your brand.
Use it as a space to debate and discuss likes and dislikes so that you can hone in further on who you are. Take the good stuff and create a digital mood board.
2. Write Out On-Brand and Off-Brand Words and Phrases: Even if you’re just writing posts for social channels. You need to figure out who you are, who you’re talking to *and* who you’re not.
Are you sassy but not snarky? Are you candid but not self-deprecating? Write all of these things down and put them in two sections. Sticky notes are your friend when it comes to this exercise.
3. Identify Aspects of Other Brands That You Like (and Dislike): Sometimes the easiest way to figure out how to talk about yourself is to explore other brands you love.
Make a list of brands you like and dislike and a few notes about why for each. Discussing these types of things will help you take your own brand’s personality to the next stage.
4. Figure Out What Differentiates Your Brand from Brands That Inspire You: Do your research and spend time figuring out what sets you apart.
Is it your angle, tone or point of view? Is it your non-traditional approach to fill-in-the-blank? Is it your origin story? Find the piece of the puzzle that makes your brand uniquely yours.
5. Write a Mission Statement, Then Rewrite it 5 Times: Your mission is clear to you, but how do you communicate that to your customers, partners and fans?
Start by writing your mission statement without any limitations -- write it in your voice like you’re talking to someone and like it’s okay if it’s four sentences long. Then condense and rewrite.
Change up a few words to make them stronger and more to the point. Try saying it out loud. Does it sound super pitch-y and not like you? Time to rewrite.
6. Create Visual + Editorial Style Guides: Even if you’re going it alone at the beginning, it’s helpful to create a guidebook to reference on the regular.
Include your mission statement here, a few mood boards, things you believe in and the nitty gritty design stuff: i.e. your logo and its many iterations; color palette; type treatments and so on.
7. Get an Outside Opinion (Take It With a Grain of Salt): Now that your voice is pretty well-baked, it’s time to bring in the peanut gallery.
Share your style guide with someone who fits the profile of your potential customer and more. Consider the feedback they give you, then incorporate or ignore as you see fit.
8. Use Your Visual Voice to Define Your Physical Space: Surrounding yourself with a vibe that speaks to your brand’s voice can help you live and breathe your brand.
When you’re setting up your office space or studio, use your style guide to make choices about color, art and furniture.
9. Leave Space to Evolve: What’s that they say about rules being made to be broken? You have to make sure who give yourself some wiggle room.
Set up a time (quarterly is ideal) to revisit your style guide and brand voice. Add in new patterns, styling ideas, products and then quickly move on. Time marches on and so should your brand.
10. Update Your Style Guide Annually: For the bigger updates, we recommend giving your style guide an update every year. Give your mission statement a read -- is it still accurate? Update it if not.
Has your color palette and vibe changed over the course of the year? Now’s the time to make those adjustments and make sure that you are looking to the future as well.
And there you have it, 10 easy steps to crafting your brand’s very own voice.