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How to develop a unique brand voice for your professional services business

Build trust, attract clients, and achieve sustainable growth! Discover how to set your professional services business apart in a crowded market by crafting a unique brand voice.


In this article, we are going to discuss:



 

A consultant with a great brand voice.

1. What is Brand Voice?


Think of brand voice as the way your company's personality shines through in every piece of communication.


It's a noisy marketplace out there, with countless firms vying for attention, often in a sea of sameness. Here's where a strong brand voice makes all the difference. It's more than just the words you choose; it's how you string them together, the values you highlight, and the expertise you showcase in a way that strikes a chord with your clients.


Visualise this: there’s a room full of people all dressed in grey, and there you are in a sharp, tailored blue suit. That's what a strong brand voice can do—it makes you stand out, builds trust, and turns passersby into loyal fans.


Take Apple for instance. Their communication is consistently crisp, clear, and imbued with innovation, mirroring their dedication to simplicity and cutting-edge technology. Their consistent voice helps set customer expectations and fosters a sense of familiarity, almost as if they're engaging with a trusted friend rather than a faceless corporation.


Example of different brand voices
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At its core, a brand voice fosters genuine connections and meaningful conversations, turning the mundane into something memorable. It's the voice that says, "We understand you, and we can help." That's how you build trust and turn strangers into loyal clients.


In this guide, we'll unpack the secrets behind not just the content of your communication but the flavour and style that make it unmistakably yours. Let’s get our hands dirty and carve out a brand voice that's a genuine reflection of what your business stands for!


2. Why a Unique Brand Voice is a Must-Have in Professional Services


The truth is, that the professional services arena is packed. In a sea where everyone's fighting to be noticed, your communication needs to do more than just reach your audience; it needs to resonate on a deeper level.


A stand-out brand voice isn't a nice to have, it's a must. It's what makes your message not just heard but truly felt by your audience. Considering that a whopping 83% of B2B buyers see a company's brand voice as key in their decision-making, it's clear: your brand voice is much more than words. It's the soul of your business, speaking directly to your customers.


Look at KPMG. They've cut through the noise in the accounting and consultancy world and made a mark with a brand voice that's all about clarity and thought leadership. Their "CEO Outlook" isn't just content; it's a conversation with their ideal clients, offering insights that slice right through the clutter.


Crafting a unique brand voice goes beyond just standing out. It's about making real connections to ensure your audience feels seen and valued. That's the foundation of lasting relationships.


3. Knowing Your Audience: Making Your Brand Voice Click


Understanding your audience is critical in professional services. Clients seeking legal, financial, or strategic consulting are looking for more than just expertise. They’re looking for a partner who grasps their challenges, predicts their needs, and communicates in a way that clicks with them.


Let’s look at the legal field. Sure, referrals matter, but a staggering 77% of potential clients start their quest for legal advice online. This is a loud and clear message for law firms to enhance their digital presence and make sure their brand voice connects directly with those in search of their services.


Truly connecting with your audience isn't just about age groups or job titles. It’s about getting under their skin—figuring out what drives them, how they prefer to communicate and what they expect from your services. Maybe it's time to launch a survey, sift through client feedback, or analyze the engagement with your digital content to get these insights.


Take a page from Deloitte's book. Their strategy with the Deloitte Insights platform is all about engaging dialogue, not just broadcasting content. They're actively engaging with their audience, offering insights and solutions that are directly aligned with the specific hurdles faced by different industries. This not only solidifies their standing as industry leaders but ensures their brand voice is consistently aligned with their audience's evolving needs.


Aligning your brand voice with your audience's expectations isn't just good practice—it's a conversation. It's this level of engagement that deepens connections, boosts client satisfaction, and fosters a level of trust and loyalty that's invaluable in the competitive world of professional services.

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Case studies: How Grab, DBS and Infosys Built Unique Brand Voices to Differentiate Themselves


Let's break down how Grab, DBS, and Infosys have set themselves apart by nailing their unique brand voices, proving just how vital clear, consistent, and authentic communication is in carving out a niche and connecting with clients.


Grab, Southeast Asia

Over at Grab, what started as a ride-hailing service has blossomed into the go-to super app across Southeast Asia, offering everything from food delivery to financial services. Their secret sauce? A brand voice that's all about making life easier, building trust and staying locally relevant.


Their Approach: Grab's magic lies in how they seamlessly blend into the local scene of each market, tailoring their services and messages to meet the distinct needs and vibes of each locale. Combine this with their drive to make a positive impact, showcased through initiatives like 'Grab for Good', and you've got a brand that truly speaks to people's hearts and minds.


The Payoff: This strategic blend of local savviness and genuine commitment to doing good has not only expanded Grab's reach but also cemented its place in the hearts of users, laying down strong roots for customer loyalty and long-term relationships.


DBS Bank, Singapore

Then there's DBS Bank, which bagged the title of World’s Best Bank by Euromoney in 2019. They've flipped the script on traditional banking, highlighting themes like sustainability, innovation, and a drive to make real-world impacts.


Their Approach: With their “Live more, Bank less” campaign, DBS strikes a chord with those looking for a bank that fits into their lifestyle effortlessly, not as another item on their checklist.


The Payoff: This shift in the narrative didn't just refresh their brand image; it attracted a tribe of customers who are not just more engaged but also more loyal, solidifying DBS's standing in a fiercely competitive banking industry.


Infosys, India

And let's not overlook Infosys, a powerhouse in digital services and consulting, whose brand voice is all about empathy, resilience, and innovation.


Their Approach: Amidst the chaos of the COVID-19 pandemic, Infosys embraced storytelling to highlight how technology can be a lifeline for businesses and communities facing daunting challenges. Their narratives, grounded in real-life resilience and adaptation, weren't just tales; they were testaments to human spirit and ingenuity.


The Payoff: This strategic pivot in communication did more than just share stories; it showed Infosys standing right alongside their clients in tough times, reinforcing their role as a partner ready to face any challenge together.


In the tales of Grab, DBS, and Infosys, we see the undeniable impact of a well-crafted, authentic brand voice. It's clear that when a brand's communication truly mirrors its core values and meets its client's needs, it does more than grow the business—it builds genuine, lasting connections.


4. A Five-Step Plan for Crafting Your Brand Voice


Five steps to a unique brand voice

Creating a brand voice that's true to your business, consistent, and speaks to your audience is more of a journey than a quick fix. It all starts with the heart and soul of your business - your core values and mission.


This isn’t just about what you do; it’s about why you do it and what makes your approach stand out from the crowd. Let's walk through the steps to make this happen.


Step 1: Lay the Groundwork

Kick things off by zeroing in on your business's core values, mission, and what makes you different—your unique selling points. These are the cornerstones of your brand voice, shaping its tone and personality.


Think about what you excel at and what makes you different from everyone else in the game. Getting clear on these points ensures your brand voice is a genuine reflection of who you are as a business.


Step 2: Get to Know Your Audience Inside Out

Understanding your audience goes beyond age and location—it's about getting into their heads. Look into what makes them tick, their communication styles, their challenges, and how they like to get their info. Do they hang out on Instagram, or are they more about LinkedIn? This intel is gold.


Step 3: Check Out the Competition

Taking a close look at how your competitors talk to their audience can shed light on what works and where there might be gaps you can fill. What are they nailing? Where could they improve? This competitive edge can help you carve out a distinct brand voice that stands out.


Step 4: Define Your Voice

Now's the time to decide how you want to come across. Friendly and approachable? Expert and authoritative? Jot down these traits and make sure they come through loud and clear in every piece of content you put out there.


Step 5: Keep It Fresh and Responsive

Your brand voice isn't set in stone; it’s a living, breathing thing. It should grow and adapt over time. So, keep your ear to the ground, listen to what your clients are saying, and tweak your approach as you go. Try out different styles in your posts, see what gets the best reaction, and refine as you go.


Building a brand voice is all about being true to who you are, knowing your audience deeply, and being willing to adapt and evolve. It's these steps that will help you craft a voice that not only defines your brand but also connects with your clients on a deeper level.


5. Decoding How Your Brand Talks and Why It Matters


The way you chat about your business isn't just window dressing—it's central to how people perceive and remember you. Ever notice how certain brands stick with you, sometimes even from your younger days? There's a reason they linger in your memory.


Dive a bit into psychology, and you'll find it sheds a ton of light on this. Research highlights that the way a brand communicates can massively shape its image in the eyes of consumers.

Over 80% of customers reckon a brand's genuine vibe is a big deal when it comes to where they spend their money.

Here's the scoop:

  • Trust & Credibility: Having a voice that's both clear and consistent is like a trust magnet for clients. It's all about laying out who you are and what you stand for in no uncertain terms. Get this: a whopping 81% of people say that trusting a brand is pretty much a deal-breaker for them before they decide to buy.

  • Emotional Connection: Hitting the right notes with your brand voice can spark an emotional bond with your audience. And guess what? This emotional tie is a heavyweight champion when it comes to driving business value. Zhecho Dobrev, the mind behind 'The Big Miss', puts it this way:

"An emotional connection isn't just about repeat business; it's about creating a clear preference for your brand over others. It's the difference that makes customers choose you, time and again."

  • Standing Out & Sticking Around: Carving out a unique voice does wonders in setting you apart and making you memorable. Think of Mailchimp's offbeat ads or Slack's laid-back vibe. These brands have voices you can't help but recognise. And here's something to chew on: consistent branding, voice included, can bump up your revenue by a solid 20%, according to Lucidpress.


Your brand voice isn't just for show—it's a strategic play rooted in the nitty-gritty of psychology, designed to forge trust, spark connections, and foster loyalty.


6. Balancing the Tightrope of Brand Voice: Unique vs. Unrelatable


balancing act

Aiming for a unique brand voice? Think of it like seasoning a dish. The right amount can enhance the flavours, but overdo it, and you might end up with something inedible. There's a fine line between being distinct and diving into the deep end of differentiation, where you risk alienating the very people you're trying to connect with.


Take, for example, a law firm that decides to pepper all its communications with emojis and casual slang. While it's certainly different, it might not strike the right chord with clients who are looking for a sense of reliability and seriousness for their legal matters.


Striking the right balance is key. Here's how to dodge the over-differentiation pitfall:

  • Get to Know Your Clients: Start by deeply understanding who your clients are. Trying to be overly hip or excessively clever can backfire if it doesn't gel with what your audience expects from you.

  • Clarity is King: A standout brand voice doesn't have to be complicated. Aim for clarity and simplicity. Steer clear of industry jargon or complex terms, even when you're talking to a specialised audience.

  • Iterate Based on Feedback: It's okay to play around with your brand voice, but keep an ear to the ground. See how potential and current clients react. Try out different tones and styles on your website or social platforms and gauge the response.


The aim is to forge a distinctive brand voice that doesn't stray too far from what resonates with your target audience. Being memorable is great, but not at the cost of clarity and relatability. You're trying to open doors, not close them.


7. Authenticity is The New Currency in Professional Services


Let's cut to the chase: the professional services scene is witnessing a major shift in how businesses communicate. The old playbook of buttoned-up, formal lingo that could double as a sleep aid is out. Nowadays, it's all about keeping it real—authenticity, openness, and a bit of personality are what draw clients in.


Consider this nugget from a Stack Overflow survey: 86% of developers are more inclined to engage with companies that don a transparent and authentic brand voice. Furthermore, it's not just the tech world; this craving for authenticity cuts across all sectors.


So, what's driving this move towards genuine communication? For starters, folks are swimming in a sea of content and are on the lookout for voices that stand out for their genuineness. Plus, with social media pulling back the curtain on the corporate world, there's a push for companies to show up as more than just faceless entities.


This shift towards transparency isn't just nice to have; it's reshaping how professional services firms connect with their audience:


  • Content That Hits Home: There's a noticeable uptick in content that does more than just sell—it educates, advises, and resonates. Think of helpful blog posts, insightful articles, and videos that pack a practical punch.

  • Getting Social: Firms are turning to social platforms not just to broadcast, but to give a peek into their culture, spotlight their teams, and chat with clients like old friends.

  • Thought Leadership, Reimagined: The sage-on-the-stage style of thought leadership is making room for more down-to-earth, accessible takes. Industry pros are sharing their wisdom in ways that feel more like a chat over coffee than a lecture.

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Behind all this is a clear message: people are hungry for authenticity.

They're seeking out businesses that feel like trusted pals—those that share your values, talk your talk and aren't afraid to show a little heart. This trend is nudging businesses, big and small, to rethink how they communicate, striving for a tone that's more like a trusted friend than a distant, corporate entity.


8. Striking the Balance: Personal Touch vs. Professional Speak


There's a bit of a balancing act going on in the professional services world: should businesses stick with the classic corporate lingo or switch gears to a more personal, approachable tone? Let's discover what's at play.


On one hand, you have the traditional corporate lingo. It's all about formality, packed with industry terms, and, let's be honest, can come off a bit distant at times. It's the go-to for contracts and board meetings, where precision and formality reign. But when it comes to warming up to clients or making your services feel approachable, it might not always hit the mark.


Shift gears to the other side, and there's a more personal way of communicating. Think of it as the difference between a tailor-made suit and one off the rack. This style aims to break down complex ideas into bite-sized, relatable pieces, engaging clients on a human level and fostering a genuine connection. It's less about flaunting expertise and more about demonstrating an understanding of the client's needs and challenges.


Consider the approach by the global law firm Linklaters. They've been nudging their communications towards being clearer and more relatable, translating the legalese into something the rest of us can grasp. Far from watering down their expertise, it makes it shine by ensuring it's accessible to those who need it most.


Indeed, being relatable pays off. Research from Braze and Forrester shows that customers are more than twice as likely to adore a brand—and nearly twice as likely to recommend it—if it feels more human.


So, what's the takeaway? It boils down to knowing your audience and the situation at hand.

There's a time and place for corporate formality, but many professional services firms are finding that adding a personal touch can significantly boost client engagement and set them apart. The trick is finding that sweet spot.


9. A Practical Playbook to Sharpen Your Brand Voice


Crafting a standout brand voice goes beyond just picking a tone; it's about weaving that voice into every nook and cranny of your interactions. Here's your go-to guide for making sure your brand voice hits the right notes:


1. Content Leads the Way; Consistency Follows

Your content, be it blog posts, tweets, or marketing collateral, is the front-runner of your brand voice. Consistency is your backbone here, ensuring your brand's tone, style, and core values consistently shine through in every piece you put out there.


2. Get Your Team on Board

Your team members are the megaphones of your brand. Getting them up to speed on your brand voice and encouraging them to use it, whether they're tweeting, emailing, or chatting at a conference, can genuinely widen your brand's reach and impact.


3. Engage and Absorb

Dive into the social media trenches not just to broadcast but to engage. What's the buzz around your brand? What's keeping your audience up at night? These golden nuggets of insight can help you adjust your brand voice to better connect with your audience's needs and vibe.


4. Blueprint Your Brand Voice

Putting down your brand voice traits in a playbook isn't just helpful; it's crucial. It ensures everyone's on the same page, singing from the same hymn sheet, and communicating in a way that's true to your brand's heart.


5. Keep Your Ear to the Ground

Markets shift. Audiences evolve. A regular check-up on your brand voice can ensure it stays relevant and resonant. This might mean revisiting your content, measuring the pulse of your social media conversations, and gathering customer feedback to pinpoint where a little voice tune-up might be in order.


Putting these strategies into play isn't just about keeping your brand voice sharp; it's about making sure it keeps resonating with your audience and mirrors the growth and shifts within your brand itself.


10. Matching Your Message with the Medium and Tone


Nailing your brand voice is key, but remember, it's not one-size-fits-all. Your message needs to shape-shift depending on who you're talking to and where the conversation is happening.


In professional services, your audience's expectations can vary widely based on the context.


  • Formal or Casual? A hefty contract needs that formal tone, no doubt. But what about a quick social media shout-out about a new hire? That's your chance to loosen the tie a bit.

  • It's All About the Platform: An in-depth guide on your website? Keep it formal and informative. A podcast chat? That's your opportunity to let the conversation flow more naturally.


The trick is to balance professionalism with relatability, adapting to the situation at hand.

Let's look at a few typical platforms and how to strike the right tone:


Blogs & Articles

  • What to Share: Offer insights and advice that address your client's challenges and highlight your know-how.

  • Tone: Keep it professional but friendly. Aim for clear, jargon-free language that injects a bit of your brand's personality.


Social Media

  • What to Share: Mix it up with engaging posts, industry news, peeks into your company culture, and the occasional light-hearted moment.

  • Tone: Here, you can afford to be a bit more laid-back and conversational. A dash of humour or an eye-catching visual can go a long way. Do remember that you're still a pro, so steer clear of slang that might muddle your message.


Website Content

  • What to Share: Spell out what you offer and your areas of expertise, and introduce your team.

  • Tone: This is where your credibility shines. You want to come across as knowledgeable and reliable, showing that you're at the top of your game.


Picking the right channel and tone isn't just about delivering a message; it's about sparking a dialogue. Whether you're penning a thought leadership piece, crafting a tweet, or recording a podcast, getting this mix right turns your communication from just another drop in the ocean to a meaningful exchange that resonates. When you hit that sweet spot, that's when your brand voice doesn't just speak—it sings.


11. Evolving Brand Conversations: What's Now and What's Next


The way we chat with clients is always on the move, and keeping a finger on the pulse is crucial. Here are some big waves in brand communication today and where they might be taking us, especially in the professional services arena:


Dialling Up Personalisation


Nowadays, clients aren't just hoping for a tailored experience; they're expecting it. There's a surge in tech tools out there making it easier to craft messages that hit right at the heart of what clients need and want. Picture an accounting firm that shoots out emails with tax advice perfectly timed and tailored to each client's specific industry needs.


Looking Ahead: The future's likely to ramp up this personalisation game. We're talking about AI stepping in to sift through client data, helping firms send out communication that's not just on point but feels like it's been written just for them.


Storytelling Takes Center Stage


Let's face it: a good story has power. More and more, firms are leaning into storytelling to strike a chord with clients, moving beyond dry data to share real-life stories, from client success tales to what life's like behind the scenes at the firm.


Even when it comes to the more corporate side of things, like B2B PR, storytelling's a game-changer, turning what might be a snooze-fest into something that grabs and holds attention.


Looking Ahead: Storytelling's set to become an even bigger deal. Imagine interactive storytelling where clients don't just hear your story; they're part of it, thanks to the magic of tech and AI.


Keeping It Real in the Digital Age


Sure, tech's transforming how we connect, but nothing can quite replace that human touch. The challenge for professional services is finding that sweet spot between making the most of tech without losing the warmth of real, human interaction.


Looking Ahead: We're likely to see more of a mixed-bag approach—think AI chatbots that can handle the simple stuff, with the assurance that a real person's just a call or click away for the trickier matters.


As we look to the horizon, it's clear: brand communication in professional services is all about nailing that mix of being genuine, getting personal, and truly engaging with clients. By riding the wave of these trends and staying one step ahead, businesses can forge deeper connections and set themselves up for enduring success.


Conclusion


Crafting a brand voice that stands out isn't just a nice touch—it's critical for professional services businesses aiming to make their mark in a crowded field. This voice, the verbal identity of your brand, needs to be genuine through and through because your audience has a sixth sense of anything that feels off. Authenticity is the key that unlocks trust.


Consistency is your sidekick in this journey. Every tweet, report, or podcast needs to echo 'you'. It's not about repeating yourself, but ensuring your values and character are the golden thread running through all your communications.


Now, onto the real magic - connecting with your audience. This is where the sparks fly. Speaking up is one thing, but being listened to is where the real impact lies. Tailoring your words, picking the right channels, and actively seeking feedback can turn your audience from mere listeners into active participants in your brand's journey.


So, to all the professional service business owners out there, here's your moment of truth. Does your brand voice truly reflect who you are? Does it speak to your audience in a way that resonates? If the answer's anything but a resounding yes, it might be time to dive deep and fine-tune. Your brand voice isn't just about what you say; it's the pulse of your brand identity, and nailing it could be the move that changes the game for you.



 

Additional Resources


If you're keen on delving deeper into the world of crafting a standout brand voice, here's a list of go-to books and websites packed with insights:


Books to Check Out:


"Building A StoryBrand" by Donald Miller

Donald Miller breaks down a seven-part framework that's all about getting your message crystal clear and centred around your customers. It's the perfect playbook for anyone looking to shape a brand story that truly connects.


"Contagious: How to Build Word of Mouth in the Digital Age" by Jonah Berger

Jonah Berger takes you behind the scenes of what makes ideas spread. It's packed with insights for making your brand voice not only distinct but also something people can't help but talk about.


"This Is Marketing: You Can't Be Seen Until You Learn to See" by Seth Godin

Seth Godin tackles marketing with a big heart, focusing on empathy, integrity, and the value of truly seeing your customers. It's a treasure trove of wisdom for anyone aiming to communicate their brand's value with authenticity.


Websites for More Wisdom:


This site is a goldmine for anyone wanting to up their content game. It's chock-full of insights on how to keep your content in line with your brand voice.


HubSpot's blog is where you'll find a wide array of topics, from nailing your brand voice to mastering your content strategy, all aimed at helping businesses big and small make their mark.


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