What does the word “brand” conjure up in your mind? Colour palettes, smart logos, carefully selected typography? It’s common for the flashy visual elements of branding to command a great deal of attention and energy.
But there’s another defining element of your brand that’s just as powerful. And it has the potential to make or break the impact you have upon your audience. It’s the way that you communicate — the tone and voice of your brand.
Why does a well defined brand voice matter in the Shopify space?
As you’ve worked on developing your USP, you know that the Shopify ecosystem necessitates a strong, well-defined brand identity. To be viewed as a memorable, viable solution within the space, the way you’re represented needs to be considered and consistent at all times.
Brand voice conveys just as much (if not more) attitude and personality as a logo or site design. If you haven’t decided how your brand should sound, you run the risk of sounding disjointed and contradictory.
By contrast, brands that flex clear personality in each piece of content they create ooze confidence, recognisable flair and reassuring familiarity. Guess whose content is having the biggest impact on their audience?
When your brand speaks, what impression are you making? How are you making your audience feel? Is your brand authoritative and professional, or friendly, energetic and youthful? How seriously do you take yourself? Does your content reflect the true personality and unique skill set that you offer to Shopify merchants?
If you find it hard to answer those questions, chances are you need to work on clearly defining your brand voice. If you’re creating content that represents your brand without this “north star” guiding the impression that you wish to make, you’re reducing the impact your brand’s content can have.
How to start defining your brand voice
As always, customer research is key here. Before you decide how you think your brand should sound, listen to the people who’ve already formed an impression! Run a survey to ask questions about the view your audience currently takes.
You can do this by asking for the adjectives that they’d associate with your Shopify app or agency. Either give them a list to choose from, or hand over the reins entirely and let them enter text freely. You may be surprised by some of the answers.
When you have a clearer picture of your starting point, you can start to assess how much course correction is needed. Are you currently making the impression you hoped with the way that you communicate and create content?
A great way to start laying out a defining framework is to decide on a few key values held by your brand. Are you ambitious? Conscientious? Future-focused? Get as many colleagues as you can involved with this — what’s the defining, driving vision of your Shopify app or agency? This is what you should be reflecting in your brand voice.
Once you’ve nailed a few defining values (we recommend around three to keep things focused), start to explore how conveying these might make you sound. We hear a lot of reference to “tone of voice” but you’re really looking to pinpoint tone and voice: voice being what you say (your content), and tone being how you say it (your context).
How to ensure consistent use of your brand voice
Having put so much care and consideration into developing your brand voice, you’ll now want to make sure it’s rolled out correctly!
Many busy Shopify apps and agencies find they have quite a few different people creating content and copy for them. Whether it’s product releases, blog content, website tweaks, Shopify App Store listing updates or social media announcements, chances are there’s no one person owning every single channel.
Because of this, it’s important that everyone is singing from the same hymn sheet. And in this instance, that hymn sheet consists of your brand voice guidelines. These should comprise concise but clear documentation, outlining the exact impression each piece of content created should make.
The way you go about this is totally personal, but we’d definitely recommend exploring some of the great examples floating around the web for inspiration. Mailchimp has a famously well-executed explanation. Uber also does a really good job. Get creative and map out a set of guidelines that makes sense for your own organisation. Make sure everyone who creates copy or content for your brand has access. Get together to discuss how you’ll all work together to ensure these guidelines are upheld.
We would also recommend a little spring cleaning. Audit your current content (especially your web copy and automated communications) to make sure everything aligns with your shiny new brand voice.
Then stand back and marvel at a job well done. A brand firing on all cylinders — turning out polished, consistent, trustworthy content, and the obvious choice for any Shopify merchant seeking a little extra help.
🧠 Excited to start defining your brand voice, but looking for some expert guidance? We’d love to help!
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