Creating a Voice for Your Brand
To any developing writer, the goal of establishing their “voice” is one that is both all-important and extremely confusing. The term “voice” is often thrown around without any explanation about what it means, or how a writer can work to make theirs consistent and unique.
Voice can be complicated because it’s composed of several literary components. Diction (the words you’re choosing), tone (the mood that your writing is trying to convey), and syntax (the way that you’re arranging your words and phrases) all come together to create a unique voice. The trick is to use these techniques in a consistent manner over time, to establish a voice for your brand.
But before you can establish your brand voice, you need to make several choices about how you want to portray yourself. These can be broken down into three categories—point of view, passivity, and formality.
Point of View
A piece of writing that restricts itself to the third-person, acts as a literal third party observing and narrating some event. Press releases, newspaper articles, and academic papers frequently use the third-person, and avoid mention of the author.
Writing in the first-person involves the author in the content of the piece directly. Social media posts, memoirs, and op-eds will typically use the first person. While using third person can come across as distant and impartial, first-person is used frequently in opinion pieces and personal narratives in order to establish a connection with the reader.
Using a passive, or an active voice when writing, can give a wholly different impression of a series of events. The passive voice is restrained, with events portrayed as having happened to the subject, while the active voice feels more natural and conversational, with a subject that acts and reacts to events.
The passive voice creates a sense of impartiality, while the active voice is more involved. If your goal is to make a reader feel invested in what you’re writing, then keep your sentences active; but if you’d prefer for readers to view your piece as a neutral one, then write passively.
Avoiding colloquialisms, contractions, abbreviations, and the second and first person—these are all prerequisites of formal writing. Formal writing can convey a sense of respect towards the reader, by not including slang that they might not understand, and by trusting the reader to understand writing that is wordier and more complex.
Informal writing, however, can be more accessible, using common phrases and casual grammar. It strikes up a rapport with the reader, and strengthens the feelings of empathy between you and your audience.
Creating a Voice
Ultimately, voice is more than just these three things. But if you want to establish a consistent voice for your brand on social media or in publications, you may want to sit down and make some decisions about how these three factors will be used. Will you write with a formal or informal style? Will you write from the third- or first-person perspective? Will you write with a passive or an active voice?
All of these methods have different strengths. In the end, it’s not about which technique is better than the other, but instead about which technique best represents the image that you want to present to your audience.