One of the most overlooked but critically important aspects of your brand is what we call your Verbal Identity.

So let’s discuss.

What is a Verbal Identity?

A Verbal Identity is the articulation of your brand through the use of distinct and focused language, expressed through words.

While on paper this may seem fairly obvious, defining and determining your brand’s Verbal Identity is one of the most critical aspects of your Brand Platform.

Why do you need it?

If you’re already investing time, money and resources defining your Brand’s Strategy and Visual Identity, it’s imperative that you are able to articulate in words the qualities of your brand that work in harmony with everything else you have created.

A great Verbal Identity amplifies your brand. A poor Verbal Identity can create confusion, and may conflict with all of your hard work. 

How is a Verbal Identity used?

  • First and foremost your Verbal Identity will help create consistency and clarity in the creation of content and copy in all your outbound marketing and corporate endeavors.
  • It infuses your brand’s personality in messaging, including voice, attitude, sense or humor and more into your actual content and copy.
  • It aims to distinguish your brand from competitors.
  • It creates a consistent personality and voice of the brand across all communication channels.

Whether you use a copywriter or write your own marketing, a Verbal Identity gives a writer or marketing team a starting point to ensure every brand touch point feels consistent and “in character.”

What are the components of a Verbal Identity?

A Verbal Identity is broken down into five parts. We will delve into each one specifically.

01. Brand Voice
02. Brand Story
03. Brand Tone
04. Brand Grammar
05. “What we say. What we don’t say.”

01. Brand Voice

Your Brand Voice is your brand’s personality, come to life. It is the way your brand communicates directly in its content, copy and overall language. It’s not just about what you’re saying, but the manner in which it is being said. It’s the unique turn of phrases and attitudes you showcase when communicating.

Example: Changing Habits

Changing Habits, an Australian-based whole food company, is influencing how food is produced, classified and marketed.

Earlier this year, we helped them create a Brand Strategy that would require a distinct new Brand Voice: Authentic, real, direct, aspirational, curious, and inclusive. Below are some explanations of their new Brand Voice:

“We strive to uplift everyone around, but refuse to make false promises and tell people what they want to hear. While sometimes uncomfortable in the short run, in the long run it creates trust and authority.”

“We speak plainly in language that anyone can understand, and avoid marketing buzzwords that create the potential for misinterpretation.”

“We believe in the power of positivity. We don’t see problems, we see challenges and opportunities. We don’t make demands but encourage instead. And while we take ourselves seriously, we are also unafraid to throw in a little snark and playfulness when appropriate.”

02. Brand Story

A Brand Story may often be called a Manifesto. At its core, a Brand Story is an emotional articulation of what your brand and company ultimately stands for. It is meant to tell both the story of your business, as well as the audience you are trying to reach. It showcases not only the philosophy of your business, but also the voice and personality of your brand.

Example: Purple Care

Purple Care is the premiere lawn, tree, and landscaping company proudly locally owned and operated in the greater Fort Worth, TX area. They are a part of their local community, and are keeping it beautiful by taking a holistic, sustainable approach to lawn care.

When we rebranded their company from Xtreme Lawncare to Purple Care earlier this year, we felt it was necessary to write a story that would bring to life this new name and new the introduction of a gorilla in their logo.

Here is their Brand Story:

03. Brand Tone

A Brand Tone reflects your brand’s stance, attitude, and disposition in a given situation. What distinguishes Brand Tone from Brand Voice is the ability for adaptation. Your Brand Voice will always be the same; your Brand Tone will be consistent, but situation dependent.

One of the best ways to determine the tone of your brand in the context of the communication. How do you speak to a friend? Do you speak differently in the confines of a private conversation vs. one on social media? Are there times where your tone is more formal or more casual?

Tone is all about communicating in a matter that is appropriate for the situation.

Example: Hunter + Esquire

Hunter + Esquire specializes in helping cannabis companies elevate their business, brand image, and company culture by helping them win and retain professional and qualified executives.

Hunter + Esquire’s tone is assertive, animated, and informative.

We believe in possibility.

We want to inspire our audience.

We use active voice.

04. Brand Grammar

Your Brand’s Grammar is really about setting a standard for how you communicate. It’s about setting specific rules and guidelines for how your content and copy is created, so that regardless of who is writing for you, there is consistency. Without set guidelines, it may often be confusing to the reader which ultimately creates a disconnect.

Some elements to consider for your Brand’s Grammar:

  • Abbreviations & acronyms.
    • Do you write out unfamiliar abbreviations or acronyms on the first reference, and then use shortened versions?
  • Active vs. passive voice.
    • Which do you use and when?
    • Active voice emphasizes subject over action. In passive voice, the subject is acted upon.
    • For example:
      • Passive. This money was invested by Frank.
      • Active. Frank invested this money.
  • Capitalization.
    • When do you capitalize? Are all email addresses and URL’s in lower case?
  • Contractions.
    • Do you use contractions when speaking conversationally?
  • Emojis.
    • Are they appropriate for your brand? If so, when and in what capacity?
  • Numbers.
    • When do you spell out numbers and when do you write them out?
  • Dates.
    • Do you write out a complete date in month, day, year (July 18, 2019) or as month/day/year (07/18/2019)

05. “What we say. What we don’t say.”

Your Brand Voice is your brand’s personality, come to life. It is the way your brand communicates directly in its content, copy and overall language. It’s not just about what you’re saying, but the manner in which it is being said. It’s the unique turn of phrases and attitudes you showcase when communicating.

Having clear cut rules about how your brand speaks in regards to specific topics is crucial. Crating a “What we say. What we don’t say” list helps you frame conversations properly and avoid using terms that are not in alignment.

When crafting your list, think about:

  • Are there words your brand should avoid using?
    • Can’t. Don’t. Shouldn’t.
  • Do you use certain terms to describe your customers, clients and team members?
  • How do you talk about your industry?
  • How do you talk about the competition?
  • How do you talk about your services? Do you have proprietary language about your process?

The list can get extensive, but the more you think this through and the better defined your list becomes, the more comprehensive brand language and vocabulary you can create.

Creating your brand’s Verbal Identity

As you can see, a lot goes into creating a powerful and distinguished Verbal Identity. We’ve just shown you the broad strokes — but when you’re ready, reach out to us to have us help you with your Verbal Identity.

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