Building a Brand Voice

by Common Thread Collective Collaborator

Jan. 22 2016

The shift in marketing

In the past, brands have worked from a position of authority–and that’s how they’ve been viewed; however, in today’s information age brands are less in control of how they are perceived. This contrast creates a need for brands to change their focus on how they market.

Old Branding

New Branding


Brands were the authority in their field.  The message they sent out was taken as the final word.


Authority is driven by the individual’s community of influencers, peer reviews, and public opinion.

Single Aggregated Audiences

Brands told one story about their product to one mass audience.

Social Sharing

Audiences are segmented based on individual interests and brand messages only reach as far as it’s shared within those specific groups.

Broadcast Marketing

Marketing was done sufficiently via a main outlet (TV, Newspaper). That was enough.


Marketing needs to be curated towards the influencers of your target market.  They are the ones who connect brands to their customers.


“Branding is about getting your potential clients to choose you as the only solution to their problem.” --Dr. Sarah David
In light of this shift in marketing, we focus on the following principles to build the foundation of a brand’s voice that sells product:
  • Get Personal
  • Build Trust
  • Embrace Vulnerability
  • Stay Relevant
  • Be Different

Get Personal

Sales and marketing are all about reaching your customer with the message they need to hear to understand why they need your product. Here’s a quick exercise we like to start with early on in the brand development process:
If you had to describe your brand (or yourself) in just 3 words, what words would you choose? What would you hope your customers (or those closest to you) might say.
These words should be the core of who you are. It’s easy to say what your brand does, but more difficult to simplify everything down. Can you narrow it down even further to one word that best describes your brand?
Here’s an example of how WestJet, a Canadian airline, took getting personal to the next level. Use this to inspire you to think of ways you can create connection for life with your customers.


Build Trust

A brand should be the author of their story.  But the story they craft needs to be believable, able to be connected to, and uniquely their own. Only then can you build trust with your consumer the way brands like Crest, Apple, Heinz, and Toyota have. These brands are synonymous with the goods and services they provide because they have earned trust in their brand through clear messaging that offers transparency, reliability, and connection.
At CTC, trustworthiness begins internally within our own team. If we can’t cultivate trust internally, how can we expect to do so with our clients? With trust as a foundation for the work we do, we cultivate a community within our agency that builds a bridge between our agency and our clients. This relationship allows us to fully understand who your brand is and how to properly plant the seeds of trust to your consumer.
Embrace Vulnerability
No brand worthwhile is immune from scrutiny. And that’s okay. Your product doesn’t have to be for everybody. If people don’t know your brand and they stumble across one product they don’t like, they will stay away from you forever.  However, if they trust your brand–something that is built over time–they will stand by you even if one product you produce happens to disappoint them.
As an example, check out Domino’s recent change in their pizza and brand:



“You can either use negative comments to get you down; or you can use them to excite you and energize your process…” --Patrick Doyle, President of Domino’s Pizza
A brand has to be open to criticism and judgement and able to embrace and grow from it.  By showing vulnerability as Domino’s has,a brand can both build trust and become more personal. Domino’s also does a great job of becoming more personal by showing the people behind the brand. It gives their consumer someone to relate to past the rather impersonal pizza franchises on every other corner.  Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, and Mark Zuckerberg are examples of a brand showing more than just it’s name. When CEO’s get out in front of people, their passion for what they do can excite in ways that a simple ad cannot. This applies no matter what the size of your business. Every organization has a brand; and every brand needs a champion.
Stay Relevant

Relevance is something that we all struggle with to some extent. In a world driven by social media and instant communications, brands have a way to track their relevance to some extent. However, it’s more important that a brand understands when to speak and when to remain silent. All trending topics aren’t marketing opportunities. Brands need to be able to react in real time, but also need to understand how to better predict the future. Oreo famously “got it” during the biggest sporting event in America.
A power outage during Super Bowl XLVII presented an opportunity that they were able to capitalize on because they “knew the future;” they knew what day and time the Super Bowl would be and knew when millions of people would be focused on this one event. As a result, they were ready to “react in real time” with their marketing team on standby, waiting for a moment just like that.

“Don’t get ready. Be ready.” --Will Smith
We believe that being prepared ahead of these types of events and moments that present key opportunities for your brand are essential to success in marketing.  Having different types of creative ready to go at a moment’s notice and knowing exactly who your brand and consumer are lets you be ready to decisively create content on the fly that speaks volumes.
Be Different

Above all else, a brand needs to stand out from the crowd.  With all the many consumer goods present in today’s marketplace, it’s easy to get lost. Originality gives people a reason to choose your brand over the competition. To achieve this, your brand needs more than loud colors or a fancy website.  We believe that building a unique lexicon and phraseology is key to your brand living on its own.
Examples – When you hear these brand’s slogans and phrases you can immediately identify that brand.

    • Just Do It
    • Solutions For A Smarter Planet
    • Happiest Place On Earth
    • I’m Lovin’ It
    • Zoom Zoom
    • Share Happiness
    • Have It Your Way


You might not utilize one of these particular brands or consume their products; however, because of their efforts to own those phrases and words, you can identify who they are and what they do. By creating their own lexicon around the meanings of these words, they are now allowed to tell more detailed stories about who their brand is and how their product can benefit consumers.
One great example of this is one of any of Coca Cola’s Share Happiness campaigns. These are basic promo giveaways, but the way they build out the execution of the giveaway creates a unique experience consumers never forget and tell their friends about. The emotional connection they make around the brand and product does so much more than sell a product.


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