Surely you have thought of someone with a very characteristic personality and a way of expressing himself that defines him, right?
Imagine that you are playing with your friends to imitate characters: you sing a specific voice, use a typical expression of theirs and, in a matter of seconds, they all get it right.
How is it possible? There was no characterization and no visual elements gave clues. What made that character so recognizable? It’s about your verbal identity.
If you would like your brand to also generate that effect, you have to put the batteries and pay attention to it. Especially if your company has grown and there are many hands writing texts through different channels. That is the critical moment in which control is lost and incoherencies of tone and language arrive.
How does a team write with one voice? Having very well defined the verbal identity of the brand, and that is what we are going to learn today.
Even if you haven’t heard the concept before, you sure have an idea of what it is. Still, let’s define it.
What is verbal identity
Verbal identity is the use of a specific language and tailor-made for you which is expressed through words.
Think that, by building the verbal identity of your brand, you are creating a unique language, and all texts must be written in the same language.
It is a way to recognize you, same as the logo. There are brands that we identify quickly when we see the logo, and a good verbal identity also gets you to be distinguished in a matter of seconds.
Ask yourself if they would recognize you if you hid all the visual elements from your website or from a publication. Imagine that the logo, the fonts that you usually use or the corporate colors do not appear.
Do you think they would continue to know that it is you just by reading your texts?
- If the answer is ‘yes’, you have a strong and defined verbal identity.
- If the answer is ‘no’, there is work to be done.
So, if you had forgotten her, it’s time to pamper her.
Why it is important for a company to define its verbal identity
Every communication movement that you make from your company must be consistent with your voice and be in harmony with the rest of the conversations.
It is important that each person on the team be clear about what that voice is like so that it speaks with coherence and the messages are solid. If you do this, your entire team will row in the same direction.
The same verbal identity should reign in each channel:
- in the newsletters;
- in the content of social networks;
- in email messages;
- even in contact by phone.
When we think about the identity of a brand, we tend to imagine how it is visually, and that is why the verbal part often loses value.
It is common to see identity manuals that focus on developing the correct use of the logo, its corporate color palette and the different adaptations, but do not make any mention of its verbal identity.
This is a mistake and will result in an unbalanced brand identity.
Be very clear about this: your visual identity cannot do all the work.
Yes, the visual part is the first thing we see. But verbal identity is the first thing we hear and it is just as important.
Let’s say they are two sides of the same coin. Neither prevails over the other. Your voice should reflect your appearance and your appearance should reflect your voice. And, if you want to increase the value of your coin, you will have to work both equally.
You can have a great design, but without language your brand is mute.
After all, what makes you connect more with some people than with others? Your personality. How someone is and how they communicate is what attracts you and what makes a special bond to be created. That’s why it is a great tool to connect with your customers.
And connecting will be the first step in creating a bond that creates a long-term relationship.
- It will be the point of union of all your communication. It doesn’t matter the channel, the context, or who you’re talking to. Your verbal identity will adapt to all situations so that your essence is always present.
- It will help you create consistency and clarity in the creation of content and messages.
- Thanks to her, you will never stop being you.
Sounds good? Well, if you want to get down to work, keep reading.
How to define verbal identity
Can you imagine that every day you had a different logo? How would your customers recognize you if you used different colors in your corporate content every time?
Your visual identity conveys feelings and creates an impression of who you are, but all of this must be confirmed by your verbal identity.
What personality would you say someone has that every day is in a different way?
It would be difficult to define, right?
The more you empower it, the more you will distinguish yourself from your competition and the more recognizable you will be.
It begins by knowing the elements that make up the verbal identity and defines each one.
First element: the voice of the brand
It is the way your brand speaks all the time, regardless of the context, the situation or who it is addressing. It is the visible part of the personality and the set of values and beliefs of your brand.
Second element: the tone of the brand
It involves how your brand sounds, how formal it is, or what use it makes of humor or details such as emojis.
It will be easier to define it by asking yourself questions like these:
- “What fits my brand more, a funny or serious tone?”
- «¿Formal or informal?».
- “Respectful or cheeky?”
In the case of this brand of natural cosmetics, they define three features and specify the presence and use of each of them when communicating.
Third element: the spelling and grammar of the brand
It is the set of rules related to spelling and grammar that will characterize your brand. If you notice, there are brands that have defined up to what scripts they use when they make a list.
Fourth element: «What we say. What we do not say »
It is very important that it is clear which topics you are dealing with and which are not, or which words or expressions you do not want associated with you.
What are there brands that if they said a specific expression you would think “is not typical of it”? Well, to avoid confusion, the ideal is that you also take it into account when defining your language.
For example, if you decide to use humor or an informal tone, make it clear what the limit is, because they are usually somewhat abstract concepts and each employee may have a different idea of them.
I know it’s a lot of information, so wouldn’t it be great to have all of this collected in one document?
The style guide: the tool for writing in unison and without inconsistencies
The style manual will be like an instruction book that It will make every person who reads it perfectly understand how your brand speaks.
And I’m not just talking about content writers, but about all the employees. It will help you to unify the perception of the brand of all the members of the company, and this will be key for them to transmit it in the same way abroad.
Start at the beginning:
Define the character of your brand with 3-4 personality traits.
Then briefly develop why each trait represents your brand.
In addition to detailing what the brand should look like, it is also important to clarify what it should convey, as in this example.
If you read that a brand is fun, energetic, honest and young, you can get an idea of what its personality is like and from there it will be easier to know what the tone will be used to communicate.
But all this can not be dumped in your manual without more, it has to be well organized. In addition to developing your voice and brand tone, What writing rules should it include?
- Spelling and grammar: How would you mark an appointment? Do you use capital letters in the headlines? What kind of verbs are you going to use the most? Do you want to avoid passive time? What use do you make of exclamation marks? What kind of scripts will you use? Will you leave double space between hyphen and hyphen when making a list?
- Jargon: Will there be words that characterize you? Will you use some made-up term?
- Emojis: Will you use emojis? Are there some that you want to avoid?
- Humor: Will you use humor? Yes, no or depending on the moment?
All of this may seem like unimportant details, but if you define your verbal communication strategy well, there will be much more harmony between all the parts that make up your overall identity.
A well-defined verbal identity will boost your brand, it will amplify the message you send and increase your credibility.
Instead, a poorly defined verbal identity will lead to confusion relative to the other components of your brand, and this could throw away the rest of the identity work you’ve done.
Do you want to see more examples?
Examples of companies that have their style manual defined.
AICA, Food Information and Control Agency
This identity manual details the tone of voice, the key points of writing and punctuation and even the type of messages depending on the audience they are addressed to.
Remember to be consistent in the way you address the reader. To be consistent, if you decide to talk about yourself or use the first person plural, you have to always do it. And, if in any situation this changes, leave it reflected in the manual.
In this same example they clarify that the treatment for corporate messages and for internal communication will be different.
In the Fundación Aladina manual they also define what attributes will be the basis of their language and develop what concepts and emotions they are related to.
Look what a useful visual resource. In the manual of a hotel chain, they indicate in this graph which concepts are key to communication and what presence they have according to their recipients: clients, employees, suppliers or institutions.
Have you found these examples inspiring? They are proof that verbal identity cannot remain in the naming and the tagline, but you also have to define the following:
- The level of formality.
- Keywords (and banned words).
- Characteristic expressions, slang, and humor.
- The way you address your customers.
Now you have every reason to change the chip when you write any text of your company.
Were you aware of the value of verbal identity for your brand and of all the elements that make it up? Did you pay attention to those details when writing?
Tell me where you are going to start or if you have any questions.