Every brand has a different personality and tone, and many of those brands have shifted their tone over time. Some are serious and all-business. Others are following the latest trends popular with teens. And then most land somewhere in the middle of being serious and silly, opting for a business-casual approach. What are the advantages of each method and how do they impact a business?
Let’s take a look at tech brands in the computer space, even contrasting two companies that make and sell custom-built computers. These two companies are Origin PC and NZXT. Both cater to the PC gamer market, which tends to be made up of teenagers up to people in their 30s and sometimes higher. But they have drastically different brand voices.
Origin PC uses a very middle-of-the-road tone. It’s not jarring or offensive, but it’s also not all that inspiring. It’s not the most compelling copy in the world, but it gets the job done without ruffling any feathers. They dive into memes a bit, but it isn’t consistent with the rest of their branding online. This is an approach a lot of companies have – they don’t want to be cold, but they want to maintain a certain level of professionalism.
Sometimes the very thing you are looking for is staring right at you 👀 pic.twitter.com/sYlrZPkNj8
— ORIGIN PC (@ORIGINPC) February 13, 2020
NZXT on the other hand, goes full-boar into the latest memes and aren’t afraid to make fun of themselves and others, including making light jabs at social media followers. They interact with and make jokes about other brands in the gamer scene, and are known for their vibrant personality. This is a style that has worked well for brands like Old Spice, who have an over-the-top, absurdist attitude to their branding.
Which is worse?
— NZXT (@NZXT) February 12, 2020
And yet both brands are successful, and command a premium for their products. While one tone can be off-putting, and another tone can be boring, they both succeed.
They can both succeed because they both have a good product. It doesn’t matter what the brand voice is, really, because the product backs it up. Online reviews outweigh social media presence for these companies. So why does brand voice matter? Well, in this case, when someone thinks of Origin PC, they might think “The computer brand that makes an expensive but high-quality product,” and when someone thinks of NZXT, they might think “The computer brand that is funny on social media.” Both are different forms of social proof. Origin PC focuses on telling people about their level of quality, and NZXT focuses on getting their name out there through comedy. Again, both are successful brands that sell a lot of computers, but with completely different approaches and voices.
How about another perspective? McDonalds used to be all about kids, Happy Meals, and playgrounds. While those are still elements of the fast food chain, they have fully adopted the modern remote employee who likes to work in cafes. They have spent the last decade promoting McCafe and turning the look of their restaurants from playgrounds to sleek and modern spaces. Along with that came a shift in brand voice. It’s still lighthearted and fun, but it’s a more adult tone that speaks the same language as working professionals who want a quick bite to eat while they’re working.
The only thing more important than finding your unique voice, is sticking to it. No one is going to take you seriously if you are all-business one day, and trying to relate to the cool kids the next day. So regardless of whether you want to be silly or serious, keep your story straight above all else. As soon as you give a brand a voice, it’s like a person, and people usually have consistent personalities – someone should be able to easily describe your brand voice to a friend.
Stick to your guns, and be confident in your brand voice!
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