A client approached us recently to get involved in their Brand Identity work about mid-way into their internal process. It isn’t ideal to start mid-stream and work backwards, but we were happy to step in and provide value. They initially hired us to help with their web design and development as well as copywriting. After a few discovery sessions with them, we all agreed we needed to pause on the executional work and spend more time on the brand foundational work. Namely, Brand Voice.
Our brand strategy process spans four parts, Brand DNA being the second. We were able to customize a group session based on the progress they had already made with their identity work to focus solely on personality and voice. Here are some of our favorite exercises when starting to explore who your brand is to the outside world and how it might speak and act. Afterall, what a brand “does” often defines its personality and voice more so than what it “says.”
Exercise 1: Personify – Use single words to describe your brand's personality, as if it were a person. For this exercise, anything goes. You’ll find the group will often be stuck in the “today” of their brand, so you’ll have to push them to focus on the aspirational--who they want their brand to be and who their customers or consumers want to engage.
Exercise 2: The Cocktail Party – The brand you just personified in exercise one shows up to a cocktail party with hundreds of their customers and competitors in attendance. Describe how they behave. Spend a few minutes here, then ask the group to imagine a few hours have gone by and Brand Person X has had a few drinks. How does their behavior change? This helps demonstrate that, just like people, brand personalities and voices can change based on different scenarios. There is a time and a place to push your brand’s tone of voice. Brand voices should be multi-dimensional. For example, your personality is the same, but you most likely act and speak differently in an office environment with colleagues than when you’re out to dinner with friends.
Exercise 3: Character – Now that you’ve described Brand Person X, which celebrity or fictional character fits their description? Forcing the group to try and identify a celebrity or fictional character helps the group visualize the personality and voice they’ve been crafting together in previous exercises.
Bonus Exercise: Today, Tomorrow and the Space In-between – This is an exercise you can do with a team if you are leading or moderating a session, or you can leave it with the client to handle on their own as a “where do we go from here” exercise. Take three blank pieces of paper. Label the paper on the left “today”, the middle paper stays blank, and label the paper on the right “tomorrow”. Take everything you’ve discussed from the day and populate “today” with where you currently are with your brand’s voice. Then move onto “tomorrow” with where you want to be with your brand. After you have completed both, start asking yourself what can we do to get from today to tomorrow. That’s what goes on the middle page. Here you can get tactical with things like making your emails sound more relaxed and approachable and less corporate (if that matches the personality you just built).
If you don’t have a deep internal marketing team to take these exercises and put them into action, or if you just want an outside party to come in and help guide you down this path, Texas Creative is a great place to start. We’ll listen to what you’re looking for, and help design an approach that’s right for your needs. Give us a call!