Brand Voice

4 Brand Voice Exercises to Elevate Your Style & Strategy

Brand voice is one of those things where if you ask 100 people what it is, you'll hear 100 different answers. (Google doesn't offer much help here, either.)

For founders and solopreneurs, our brand voice tends to be closely tied to our own personality and beliefs.

I come from the school of modern voice guru Justin Blackman (literally, I took his course). Justin emphatically teaches that brand voice is not subjective (i.e. those cute adjectives like 'friendly,' 'professional,' and 'conversational'). Voice is measurable.

By Justin's definition, brand voice consists of these (3) measurable ingredients:

  • Vocabulary: The unique set of words you use
  • Cadence: Sentence structure, word length, and punctuation
  • Tone: Your attitude and vibe (We don't talk to our grandma the same way we talk to our friends)

All three can be quantified and measured. Thank goodness, right? Anyone else tired of the vague style guides that list a handful of bullets with adjectives like 'Upbeat,' Humorous,' and 'Helpful'? What do those even mean?

A strategic brand voice factors in more than personality. It builds trust with customers and seizes gaps left by the competition.

In this article:

  • Brand voice is measured through vocabulary, cadence, and tone.
  • A strategic brand voice takes into account external factors like your competition and builds trust and authority with customers.
  • Consistency in brand voice is key for building trust and recognition.
  • Crafting a strategic brand voice involves tangible observations and can be refined through real-life situations and customer feedback.
  • Grab a copy of the free brand voice exercise guidebook

Brand Voice vs. a Strategic Voice

Founders, solopreneurs, and small business owners like us frequently default to a brand voice that matches our own personality and style. In many instances, this approach is a-okay, even preferable.

But when your market gets a little more competitive (e.g. you sell a B2B SaaS product) or you find yourself in regular sales bakeoffs with other service providers, it's time to elevate your voice from a style thing to a strategic thing.

A strategic brand voice transcends any one individual's personality and takes into account external factors related to your product, customers, and competition. A brand voice starts out as all about us, but over time it can become a strategic lever that complements your product and customers and takes advantage of trust-building gaps left by your competition.

Consistency is key

According to Crowdspring, 90% of potential customers expect to have a similar brand experience across platforms. A consistent brand voice delivers a huge payoff in terms of building trust and authority. The simple things are always the hardest, right?

A consistent voice gives customers a chance to get know you. Even if your voice isn't packed with personality, consistency enables your audience to recognize your content. This repetition builds trust over time and increases the likelihood of the customer making a purchase.

You can build a strategic brand voice from scratch that feels natural and builds relationships with the right people by working through the (4) thought exercises below.


I created a guidebook so you can keep track of your answers to each voice exercise (plus access bonus tips I share with clients). It's a handy little Google Doc. Make your own copy by clicking the button below!


Exercise #1: Is your brand an enhancer or a change agent?

The enhancer vs. change agent exercise provies clarity on your industry point of view. Why does this matter? There's serious earning power in owning and communicating a unique POV. (Look at the LinkedIn creators in your feed with the highest engagement. Most of them maintain a steady drum beat of the same core belief that ties all of their content together).

An enhancer brand offers a product or service that exists to make an industry better. As an enhancer, you're not looking to overturn the way the world works now. You're making one part of it much better.

A change-agent brand believes in burning an industry to the ground. The way things are done today is plain wrong, and there's a new sheriff in town. You can imagine how knowing your POV would influence the tone and style of your content. As an enhancer, your voice may have a friendlier tone. On the other hand, a change agent brand could own a more provocative style.

The enhancer-change agent exercise, like the others below, is a spectrum. You don't have to go all-in on one or the other. In fact, you could use your brand values (if you have them) as a guide. Feel out which one—enhancer or change agent—resonates most. The degree to which you 'own it' is up to you.

X-Y graph plotting voice trustworthiness as a function of product price point and stakes. The higher the price point and stakes, the more credible a brand voice needs to be.

Exercise #2: Product Stakes

The product exercise looks at what's at stake with your product or service. When selling in heavily-regulated industries or dealing with sensitive data, it's important to prioritize a brand voice that builds trust. This means avoiding jokey or silly content, exaggerations, or coming across as insensitive. In this fascinating study from Nielsen Normal Group, they show a direct correlation between a friendly and trustworthy tone of voice and an increase in product desirability. Of the two, trustworthiness is the most important.

Price should also influence your brand voice. If customers pay a premium for your product or service, you should encourage trust in your quality and results. Avoid gimmicky or click-baity content and prioritize communicating your quality, knowledge, and expertise.

Exercise #3: Customer Mindset

Customers are the lifeblood of your business, so it makes sense that we should include them as a variable in the strategic brand voice equation.

What about your customers should you consider? Their mindset.

When customers discover your product, are they seeking fun ... or relief?

This might be an oversimplification, but use your initial reaction as a guide, and remember the spectrum idea (this isn't all or nothing). If customers seek fun, your voice could be just that. If they're looking for relief from a pain or struggle, you'll want to be sensitive to their state of mind.

Put yourself in their shoes. What kind of brand voice would resonate with you? A friend that's 'in the know'? A supportive guide? An experienced professional? Use your brand voice to be the antidote to what ails your customers.

Exercise #4: Gaps in the Competition

The last brand voice exercise looks beyond your customers into the competitive landscape. Differentiating your brand voice from competitors can be a strategic advantage in industries where everyone sounds the same.

Many industries contain brands with a similar vibe. For example, B2B tech gets a bad rap for being dry and boring. Companies tend to copy each other because it feels safer than taking a different approach.

If you're in an industry where your toughest competition all sound in the same in their marketing, you have a fantastic strategic opportunity sitting in your lap. As renowned business coach famously Siimon Reynolds said, "When they zig, you zag."


n practice, this means seizing the opportunity to stand out. If your competitors sound uninspired, use the same meaningless jargon, and make the same promises like a 'seamless all-in-one solution,' you can opt for a clear, conversational voice and stand out that much more. Hurry before other brands catch on! As long as you follow the best practices from the previous exercises, don't be afraid to buck the trends in your industry. Brave brands win.

Use real-life situations to refine your voice

Crafting a strategic brand voice involves tangible observations rather than simply imitating a cool-sounding voice. This is the difference between imitating a brand voice you like versus designing a strategic brand voice that increases brand awareness and builds long-lasting trust with customers.

Try out the brand voice exercises above. As you get your feet wet with a fresh brand voice, consider conducting a simple survey to track your customer's perceptions. You can always adjust and calibrate your voice and usually with little negative impact, especially early on in your business.

If you haven't already, grab your own copy of the brand voice guidebook to access:

  • Exclusive insights I share with clients
  • Space to write answers including helpful prompts
  • Infographics to help you visualize your voice
Image of cover of brand voice workbook

I'd love to hear from you!

Send me an email if you have questions or need support with crafting your voice.

About the author

Annie Obergefell is a messaging & brand voice strategist, copywriter, and founder of Copy Salt. Specialties include messaging, marketing strategy, and brand voice development for clients, advertising agencies, and consultancies.

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