Authentic Brand Voice in Social Media
Brand voice is the specifics of communications for a product, service, or company. It’s the “overarching standard for tone, vocabulary, and personality tied to a brand’s messaging and attitude”, as Digital Surgeons says.
In the constant clamor of commercial messages being flung at consumers, some stand out.
Each brand has a unique voice which cuts through the clutter. In a world full of over the counter remedies, sports apparel, and fast food restaurants, the message speak directly to consumers. The first one speaks across the decades (it’s a 1972 Clio Hall of Fame commercial). 43 years later, if you were around when it was aired on television, you still remember it. But it’s more than memorable writing that constitutes brand voice.
The ad is simple, as all of this brand’s advertising seems to be. The brand doesn’t dawdle. The consumer is told nearly immediately that relief is nigh. In their current online copy, Alka-Seltzer says,
Fast heartburn relief with no chalky aftertaste.
What are this brand’s sacred words? What’s in their vocabulary? Fast and relief are front and center. Heartburn relief and fast heartburn relief are probably also SEO keyword phrases for which the company is trying to rank. For buyer personas who may be older (particularly as the brand dates from 1931), the promise of fast relief from an all too common minor ailment is how Alka-Seltzer directly reaches its customers.
For a company that does so well with traditional advertising, Alka-Seltzer has been somewhat flat-footed on social media. They didn’t secure their Twitter handle (the similarly named @alka_seltzer666 belongs to Frances Bean Cobain), and their Facebook page only has 12,000 or so likes. But the brand could turn it around, by using the same clear and consistent voice it has used in its traditional advertising.
Nike’s slogan is so central to their brand that it’s part of the meta description of their home page. Interestingly enough, their slideshow doesn’t use that phrase. Instead, it’s phrases like –
- Built for brilliance
- Deceptive by nature, and
- Your Pitch. Your Style.
To be able to authentically speak to an athletic buyer persona, Nike uses sports terminology such as pitch, and adds sports-related adjectives like deceptive and brilliant (used in the noun form, brilliance). Additional sports-related terms like nature and style are weaved into the brand’s communications. Those added terms might also be designed to slant more toward female or older buyer personas, with deceptive and brilliant slanting toward younger and possibly male buyer personas. Either way, Nike is speaking its consumers’ languages.
On Twitter, Nike continues talking directly to athletes and sports fans. To reach athletes, they tweeted, Doubt: Five Letters. One Syllable. A manmade expectation of failure. But it’s only a word. You decide what it means. To reach sports fans, they tweet from several related accounts such as NikeCourt. These related accounts often show images of famous athletes (undoubtedly Nike clients), thereby linking a customer’s athletic heroes with the brand.
At McDonald’s, the slogan has changed over the years. I’m lovin’ it is not only an SEO keyword phrase (it is even on the background image for their Twitter page), it’s also a positive message which amps up Facebook liking to loving, with its connotations of not only more affection but even a long-term commitment. Who better to provide repeat business than consumers committed to a brand for the long haul?
The brand’s voice is amusing, with tweets such as This Sirloin Third Pound Burger doesn’t leave mushroom to the imagination and Best Fries Forever for National Best Friends Day. Images and verbiage are upbeat and positive, reflecting a family-oriented and wholesome atmosphere.
Authenticity Rules the Day
Get the brand voice right, and the buyer personas for a brand will listen. Get it wrong, and even the best campaign can fall flat. One size, most assuredly, does not fit all. In the meantime, I hope Alka-Seltzer is hiring a community manager, because I think I know what they need to bring their authentic and unique voice to social media. There is an audience, but they don’t seem to be quite reaching them yet.