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The Fundamentals of Verbal Identity

By Ashleigh Hansberger
Posted on 03/11/23
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As a leader, you know how important it is to have a strong brand identity that resonates with your target audience. But have you considered the importance of your brand’s verbal identity? Your verbal identity is how your brand sounds, the language it uses, and the tone it takes. It’s what sets you apart from your competitors and helps you connect with your customers on a deeper level. In this article, we’ll explore the fundamentals of verbal identity and share examples of brands that have nailed it.

What is Verbal Identity?

Your brand’s verbal identity is the personality it projects through its language. It encompasses everything from the words you use in your advertising campaigns to your tone of voice in customer service interactions. A robust verbal identity helps customers recognize your brand and builds trust and loyalty over time.

Think of it this way: your verbal identity is like your brand’s unique accent. Just as a person’s accent can reveal information about their personality, where they’re from, and how they communicate, your verbal identity can reveal information about your brand’s personality, values, and mission.

Why is Verbal Identity Important?

Your brand’s verbal identity is critical because it shapes the way people perceive your brand. Your language choices can create emotional connections, drive action, and build customer trust. It’s also an essential tool for differentiation. With so many brands competing for attention, having a unique voice and tone can help you stand out in a crowded market.

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Wylo Voice Pillars
“Verbal identity is the secret sauce that sets your brand apart.”
Sunny Bonnell, CEO Motto®
We are Motto
Verbal Identity Guidelines

Examples of Brands with Strong Verbal Identities

Dollar Shave Club

Dollar Shave Club is a subscription-based razor company that disrupted the traditional shaving industry with their quirky, irreverent brand voice. From their viral YouTube ads to their product descriptions, everything about the brand is designed to be fun and approachable. Their tagline, “Shave Time. Shave Money.” perfectly encapsulates their value proposition while also being memorable and easy to say.

Dr. Squatch

Dr. Squatch is a men’s personal care brand that uses humor and irreverence to stand out in a crowded market. Their website copy is full of puns, jokes, and pop culture references that appeal to their target audience. They describe their products as “cold showers in a box” and their deodorant as “woodsy AF.” The brand’s playful, masculine voice resonates with their customers and has helped them grow a loyal following.

Warby Parker

Warby Parker disrupted the eyewear industry with their direct-to-consumer model and affordable prices. But what really sets them apart is their brand voice. Their website copy is witty, irreverent, and at times, downright silly. For example, they describe their blue light glasses as “mid-century Scandinavian furniture for your face.” Their playful, approachable tone makes them feel more like a friend than a faceless corporation.

Old Spice

Old Spice, a men’s personal care brand, has done a phenomenal job of establishing a distinct and playful verbal identity. The brand’s advertisements feature quirky humor, over-the-top scenarios, and confident messaging. Their “Smell Like a Man, Man” campaign went viral, featuring actor Isaiah Mustafa and the now-iconic catchphrase. The brand’s voice is confident, playful, and a little bit irreverent, making it feel approachable and modern

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Verbal Tone Pillars

How to Develop Your Brand’s Verbal Identity

Define your brand’s personality

Before you can create a verbal identity, you need to define your brand’s personality. Ask yourself: what are your brand’s values? How do you want your customers to feel when they interact with your brand? What is your brand’s mission? By answering these questions, you can start to create a personality that will guide your verbal identity.

Develop a tone of voice

Once you have defined your brand’s personality, it’s time to develop a tone of voice. Your tone should be consistent across all your communications, from your website copy to your social media posts. Are you going to be serious and authoritative, or playful and irreverent? Make sure your tone aligns with your brand’s personality and values.

Use language that resonates with your target audience

Your verbal identity should also consider your target audience. What language will resonate with them? What are their pain points and motivations? Understanding your audience can tailor your language to speak directly to them and create a more emotional connection.

Practice authenticity

A strong verbal identity is only effective if it’s authentic. Your language choices should reflect your brand’s values and personality. If your brand is all about being serious and professional, using slang and jokes might come across as inauthentic. Be true to your brand; your verbal identity will feel genuine and trustworthy to your customers.

Test and refine

Developing a verbal identity is an ongoing process. You should constantly test and refine your language choices to see what resonates with your audience. Collect feedback from your customers, analyze your social media metrics, and pay attention to how your language affects your sales. Over time, you can use this data to fine-tune your verbal identity and create an even stronger emotional connection with your customers.

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Motto® Voice Attributes

How can a business develop a tone of voice for its brand?

Developing a tone of voice for your brand is crucial to creating a strong verbal identity. Here are some steps that businesses can take to develop a tone of voice for their brand:

Understand your audience

To develop a tone of voice that resonates with your audience, you must understand their preferences, values, and communication styles. Conduct market research, analyze social media conversations, and talk to your customers to understand what kind of language and tone they respond to.

Define your brand’s personality

Your tone of voice should reflect your brand’s personality. Consider the traits that define your brand, such as its values, mission, and style. Are you serious and professional, or playful and irreverent? By defining your brand’s personality, you can start to create a tone of voice that aligns with it.

Create verbal identity guidelines

Creating a style guide can help you maintain consistency in your brand’s tone of voice across all your communications channels. Your verbal identity guide should include language usage, tone, and formatting guidelines. For example, you might specify that you always use active voice or that you avoid jargon and technical terms.

Use voice examples

Provide examples of how your brand’s tone of voice should be used in various communications. This could include email communications, social media posts, advertising copy, and customer service interactions. By providing examples, you can ensure that your tone of voice is consistent and effective across all channels.

Train your team

Once you’ve developed your brand’s tone of voice, training your team to use it consistently is important. This could involve conducting training sessions, providing written guidelines, and offering feedback and coaching to team members who are responsible for communications.

Review and adjust

Finally, it’s important to regularly review your brand’s tone of voice and adjust it as necessary. As your business evolves and your audience changes, your tone of voice may also need to evolve. Regularly reviewing and adjusting your tone of voice ensures that it remains effective and resonates with your audience.

By following these steps, businesses can develop a tone of voice that reflects their brand’s personality, resonates with their audience, and maintains consistency across all communication channels.

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By Ashleigh Hansberger

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