As a small business, it's easy to get caught up in the work you're doing for other people. You focus on others, neglecting to step back and think about your own brand voice. A brand voice is the expression of your company's unique personality through the way you communicate.

This includes the words you use, the sentences you write, the images you put out on social media and your site and the way your brand communicates with customers. The voice determines how people think of you. For instance, if you want to be seen as trustworthy and authoritative, you need to be definitive when you communicate. If you want to show that you're playful and down to earth, that needs to come across in the copy on your website and social media pages.

Here are five steps to crafting a brand voice that helps differentiate your small business:

1. Decide Who You Are

The first step in shaping a brand voice is deciding who you are and how you want others to see you. Try writing down some words that you'd like people to use when describing your brand. Maybe you'd like to be decadent, trustworthy or luxurious; perhaps you'd prefer to be seen as playful, down to earth or relatable. You have to decide how you want people to see you before you can build a brand tone and voice.

2. Ask Your Team

Have a meeting with your team to determine what brand messaging should sound like. Encourage team members to think about how they can use copy and design to get this message across.

3. Write Down Brand Guidelines

Coming up with an ideal for your brand voice is an important exercise, but it's meaningless if you don't draft a set of brand guidelines. You need to put your goals down in words and create an official document that can be used by your internal staff, as well as external contributors. This document should be comprehensive so you no longer have to train your marketers or external writers on how to write in your brand's voice.

4. Inform Your Team

If you make changes to your existing voice, inform your team. Circulate the official brand guidelines, and let team members know where they can go with any questions. You might designate a certain member of your team as the brand manager who helps get new hires up to speed on messaging, ensuring that all copy is in the right tone.

5. Execute

What do people think of your brand when they see your website, social media pages and blog? Work with your team to determine a definitive voice, then use that voice in everything you create. You'll be well on your way to creating a consistent brand.

When you have a consistent brand tone and voice, you may find that you're reaching the customers who are right for your business, as having a brand voice that represents your personality can help you stand out from the crowd.

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