Does your brand sound as good as it looks?

Lulu Raghavan

We preen in front of a mirror every morning and adjust our physical appearance, but when was the last time we checked how we sound? The same is true of brands. Brand managers spend vast amounts of time thinking about what should be communicated through the visual identity, but typically very little time considering how the brand should sound. Few brands have guidelines that address voice, and for those that do, it is rare that they successfully explain how to express personality through fresh, sharp, on-brand communications.

Is it important for a brand to sound good? According to Nancy Daniels, international speaker and voice specialist, 55 percent of a person's image is attributed to appearance, 37 percent to speaking voice, and 8 percent to content (what is said).1 Translate this to brands, and we can surmise that approximately 45 percent of a brand's image can be attributed to what it says and how it says it. Calculate the verbal touchpoints in your brand's universe — from how your receptionist greets callers, to what your CEO sounds like at your annual shareholder's meeting, to the tone of your print and online communications, to the text on packaging, and to copy in ad campaigns—and it quickly becomes clear how it adds up to this significant percentage.