I wonder how many of you will have heard of a verbal identity?
As we like to say, your brand is what people say when you’re not in the room. And so it is your messaging, that is, what you say, and how you say it, that more often than not becomes the most important part of your extended brand platform.
A brand’s verbal identity is a crafted, pre-structured and predetermined set of words, phrases and tones that a brand may articulate as part of its wider brand personality. It’s also closely tied to the styling that a brand may choose to use, along with the level of register or formality that is adopted.
For example, a brand may choose to retain a particularly formal tone, to create a sense of premium communications, whereas another brand may choose to adopt a much looser, more informal tone of voice, to create an earthier and more grounded impression. Verbal customs and etiquette also form part of the wider identity – all of which contribute into the wider tone of voice that a brand uses.
Why is a verbal identity important?
If you’ve already invested in your visual identity, it’s important to ensure a harmonious brand experience by investing in your verbal brand ID as well.
A consistent verbal identity, when used effectively, can be a powerful tool in your marketing arsenal. Building consistency, particularly with your brand’s tone of voice, makes for a much stronger customer experience – over time, they’ll become familiar with how your brand talks, and become more receptive and positively engaged with you. You can then build their confidence in you – whether through friendliness or professionalism.
By keeping your communications on brand, on tone and on message, you’ll be able to create a much more memorable brand experience, that’ll keep you in the forefront of your customers mind, streets ahead of your competitors.
Internally, your verbal identity can shape internal culture, and affect how employees talk about themselves to each other. Collectively when everyone is singing from the same hymn sheet, you can ensure that all communications are harmonious – from email all the way through to the latest marketing campaign.
A verbal identity needs to be responsive and adaptive. Over the past few years, brands have been forced to speak up – be it black lives matter, the war in ukraine or the pandemic. The most effective brands to venture into those conversations are those that have both a clear idea both of who they are and what they have to say, and do it with care and intention.
Our tips for building a powerful verbal identity…
Engage everyone in the process
The worst thing to do is to delegate the task of creating a verbal identity to some lonely copywriting – your verbal identity should collectively represent and take inspiration from everyone in your organisation.
Treat your brand as if it were a person
It helps to think of your brand as if it were a person – this will help you to work out what its personality is. How do they engage in different situations – are they jovial and lighthearted, or serious and contemplative?
Keep it flexible and dynamic
Your brand’s personality is verbally expressed through the voice that is used in communication. This should be the base that underpins all internal and external communications. However, the tone in which it communicates will change, depending on the circumstance and space in which it is communicating. For example, your brand may have the same voice, but a different tone in a situation where it is communicating a serious issue in print, as opposed to something lighthearted on social media.