Building a Verbal Identity: Why Your Branded Language Matters
Consider the ways in which some of your favourite brands communicate. How do they express themselves verbally? How does their brand talk? What does it sound like? Is there anything you can learn about their personality, mission, and values from their brand language? All of this boils down to one thing: their verbal identity.
In addition to making your brand more recognisable, unique, and human, it encourages consumers to connect with, relate to and ultimately buy into your brand story, products and services. Without one, your website would be wordless, your customer service strategy would rely on telephone communications, your taglines wouldn’t exist, your communication strategy would rely on visual cues, and you might not even have a brand name.
A brand’s verbal identity is critical in shaping consumer perceptions about its personality and is crucial in influencing purchase decisions. The way we present ourselves always matters, and our verbal identities play a crucial role in that.
Here, we’ll discuss the importance of verbal identity, how to create one that really represents your brand, and how to integrate it into your overall brand strategy.
What is verbal identity?
An organisation’s verbal identity is the language used to describe everything about its brand: its products, services, company culture, customer service, prices, ethos and so on. It sets up a unique set of communication cues, allowing consumers to differentiate between brands easily.
Verbal identities embody brands through unique and targeted language and should be included in any brand guidelines. In any case, it’s imperative to recognise that languages are fluid and interchangeable, not fixed. No brand’s verbal identity is one thing. Rather, an oral identity should capture how a company’s voice adapts across a variety of channels, audiences, and touchpoints.
Initially, this may seem obvious. However, when you consider the multitude of use cases and communication channels (online copywriting, case studies, advertisements, white papers, social media, internal communication tools like style guides, Teams or Zoom and more), and how context shifts the tone and reception of each touchpoint, you become aware of the scale and task at hand. Like humans, that ‘one voice’ must be able to adapt to various conditions while still being authentically ourselves. In every situation, your use of language articulates something about your brand. It is a part of your brand experience. It is an articulation of your brand personality. It is inseparable to your brand voice.
Businesses cannot afford to be lost for words in hyper-competitive environments. Brands that constantly change their ethos and voice run the risk of appearing untrustworthy, unsubstantial, and confused.
By developing a strong verbal identity one, you can consistently communicate with your audience in a way that builds trust at every brand touchpoint and in every situation. No matter what your business model is – whether B2B or B2C – engaging and maintaining a dialogue with your customers is critical. A consistent, well-defined approach to language is crucial to the success of this conversation, which can be used to better establish a company’s products and services.
In today’s market, brands need to be consistent, clear, and strong in their messages in order to stand out. Besides reducing confusion, increasing familiarity, and enhancing loyalty and preference among consumers, shareholders, and potential employees, a strong verbal identity serves a variety of purposes. It:
- Integrates your brand’s personality in your brand story and messaging, including voice, attitude, sense of humour, brand grammar, and actual content and copy.
- Differentiates your brand from your competitors.
- Establishes a consistent brand voice and personality.
Is it really that important?
The short answer is yes. A unique and recognisable verbal identity will create consistency and clarity across all internal and external elements of your brand – from your brand tone, to your marketing copy and internal communications. With it, you can incorporate your brand’s personality into your messaging, including your tone of voice, attitude, sense of humour, and so on.
Verbal identity is one of the key components of your overall brand. Imagine you’ve already spent time, money, and resources developing your brand identity and strategy. It’s imperative that you can articulate in words the qualities of your brand that work in harmony with everything else you have created.
In conjunction with your brand guide, which includes your visual identity and brand equity, your verbal identity is an internal-facing document that provides your employees and stakeholders with the know-how to communicate your brand voice in branded language. Keeping your verbal identity in tandem with your visual identity is crucial to representing your brand effectively. Only then, everyone can view your brand identity holistically.
How is verbal identity used?
Essentially, it’s everything that involves words. From global advertising campaigns to social media posts, it informs both bold and discreet moments
In terms of internal communication, it has a fundamental impact on how people talk to one another and self-represent. In addition to shaping communication materials such as internal announcements, recruitment messaging, and onboarding and training, it shapes the tone of oral and written communications as well.
Externally, it engages a brand’s many audiences in tandem with visual identity. Quite simply, it has a wide remit. Everything seems out of place when you lack the right words.
A brand can leverage its strong voice in a variety of ways. In story form, from product descriptions to website headings, to business cards – a branded voice matters. But as ever, consistency is key, Having consistency and clarity in your brand will benefit all your outbound marketing efforts. As a result, consumers can distinguish one brand from another based on a unique set of communication cues.
A successful verbal identity can help you build rapport with your audience and influence purchase decisions. Through our verbal identities, we create powerful connections with others, which helps us understand and relate to them.
The components of a strong verbal identity
1. Brand personality
It all begins with your brand’s personality. In verbal identity, brands bring their identity to life through their words. A great way to get started is by crafting a brand personality that is unique, memorable and directable. In any situation, regardless of context or audience, your brand maintains a consistent personality.
Create a personality profile that encapsulates your brand’s guiding characteristics across all audiences, media, and emotional states. Create a short header for each trait, then write a brief paragraph about how that trait represents your brand.
2. Brand story
Your brand story should emotionally communicate everything you stand for. Ensure that it conveys the story of your business in a manner that is relatable and appealing to your target audience. You should think of it as a cohesive narrative that inspires an emotional reaction to your brand.
3. Brand voice
This is where your brand personality comes to life. Basically, it’s how your brand communicates through its content, copy, and language. It’s the unique personality a brand demonstrates in its communication.
4. Brand tone
This is all about the mood or emotion you convey in your messages to your audience, through carefully selected words and writing styles. In essence, it’s how you express your brand’s voice. It represents the stance, attitude, and disposition of your brand. One of the key differences between tone and voice is the ability to adapt. Your voice will remain the same, while the tone of your brand will vary based on the situation, but it will always be consistent. It’s all about communicating in a manner that fits the situation and will vary depending on the situation.
5. Brand grammar
Our choice of words, and the reasons behind it, are charged with meaning. Rethinking your language is crucial, particularly in sensitive political climates. The discussion ranges from gender-neutral language down to acronyms, use of lower-case words, abbreviations, capitalisations, and emojis.
How a brand communicates is determined by its grammar. It involves creating specific rules and guidelines for how content and copy are written so that no matter who writes for you, there is consistency.
It is common for brands to follow established style guides, although you might deviate from the script occasionally. Make sure your style guide documents everything you do.
Brand names are the shortest means of telling a story. Brilliant names give audiences an idea of what a brand is all about and what they can expect from its products and services. The most important factors are originality, relevance, and memorableness. By creating a frame of reference for your business, you enable your customers to make a distinction between you and your competitors.
Additional components can be added depending on the size and complexity of your brand. Get a group together before starting your verbal identity and brainstorm what components should be included and which should go in a separate manual of style. Here are a few suggestions:
Have you got alt text and screen reader rules? Do you have any font sizes or transcription tips? These should be put here.
Setting boundaries can be helpful when translating your copy into multiple languages.
Writing for user experience
Write some instructions on how you guide people through your app’s user interface if you have a mobile app or web app.
Are there any rules for SEO? It might be wise to include them.
An effective verbal identity should work in tandem with your other brand elements to empower your brand and give structure to how you express yourself, what you do, why you do it, who it benefits, and why it matters.
It is important to never overlook the power of language, so if you want to explore the potential of verbal identity and release the power of words, get in touch. As a agency with a knack for creating verbal and visual brand identities, we’re here to help.