How To Create A Unique Personality For Your Brand Through Storytelling And Tone Of Voice

We were so excited to welcome Kate Hamilton and Emily Ames, the inspiring ladies behind content agency Sonder & Tell, to September’s edition of “The Circuit” last week. Weren’t able to attend? Don’t worry, because below we have summarised the key points that they raised, that every creative entrepreneur should keep in mind when starting a business.

What do we mean by Storytelling, and why is it important?

Every brand needs to have their own unique story to make them stand out from all the rest. The market is so saturated that you need to sell a story, rather than a product, in order to reach your target consumer. It is your brand’s narrative, its personality, its ethics and values. It is a picture you paint of your brand that makes consumers want to buy into it.

A story helps people to connect with your brand or product by appealing to a consumer’s senses, memories and feelings. The human brain retains 70% of information through stories, compared with 10% through data and statistics, because when we hear a story, we relate it to our own past experiences. This is important for brands, because if you can tell a story that will make a consumer feel something, that they will connect with, they are more likely to remember your product and want to buy into it. Humans are emotion-driven after all!

What How Why

Every brand needs a What, How and Why. The way you structure your story depends on what is most important to your customer, so decide what that is and lead with it. What is going to hook them in?

What

  • What is it that you’re selling? A company such as Apple leads with the What. Their marketing campaigns are simple, featuring a plain background, allowing the product to take centre stage.

How

  • How are you special and how are you set apart? Brands that lead with How are those that are selling directly to consumers, removing retailers from the equation. Think of the suitcase company Away.

Why

  • Why does your product or service exist? What is your wider purpose, cause or belief? Marketing often focuses on the Why these days, as people want products to have a purpose, to fulfil a need.

But why is there no WHO…?

Many startup founders like to make themselves the hero of their brand’s story, but ask yourself:

  • How relevant is the founder to the brand/product?
  • Does their story resonate with your target audience?

Consumers aren’t interested in another entrepreneur’s journey. Make the story appeal to the consumer, make it about them, not about the founder. Think about the vision – where the brand is going rather than where it has come from.

Tone of Voice

It is important for your brand to establish a strong tone of voice, as this maintains consistency in telling your story and it determines the way that you communicate it with consumers. It sets you apart from your competitors.

How to establish a strong Tone of Voice

Put Narrative Elements to good use

  • Set the scene – where does your story play out? What environment is the consumer imagining when they think about your brand? Think of brands such as Urban Outfitters and Patagonia.
  • Choose your characters – this adds a human element to the story, which will appeal to the consumer, because people like to connect with other people. The founder is probably not the most interesting person in your brand, so who do you want to tell your story? Think of brands such as Nike.
  • Conflict & Resolution, AKA The Monster – show the consumer that your product overcomes a problem that they are trying to solve. Think of brands such as Fenty by Rihanna. The problem was that there was not enough ethnic representation in the beauty industry. Her brand solves this problem.

Use Sensory Language

Appeal to the consumer’s senses to activate their brain and make them feel part of the story and part of the product. What can they smell when they read about your brand/product? What can they hear?

Develop a Personality

Great brands have real personalities that consumers are familiar with and feel an affiliation with. In establishing your story, it is useful to imagine your brand is a person and give them a personality. This will help guide the tone of voice that you use when discussing your brand and communicating it to the consumer. Ask questions such as:

  • What hobbies would your brand have?
  • Where would your brand like to spend their free time?
  • What shows would your brand watch on TV?
  • What makes your brand happy?

This will set you apart from other brands.

How to determine what your Tone of Voice should be

Ask yourself:

  • Who is your target audience? Do your research into who needs the product, and craft a voice that speaks to their mentality.
  • How does your target audience speak?
  • How does your target audience want to be spoken to?
  • How do your competitors talk?
  • How can you use your voice to stand out from your competitors?
  • What issues does your brand have an opinion on? This will help you determine what wider issues and arguments you could weigh in on with your brand.
  • Establish your own values. Speak out about your values, and don’t try and make other values fit your product or try and align your brand/story with what’s trending.

CONSISTENCY IS KEY!

Make sure everyone at your business is comfortable and familiar with the brand’s concept, values, story, tone of voice and strategy – not just the person who came up with it!

And remember - if you have no voice, you can’t talk to anyone!