Insurance agents and brokers are just like any other business when it comes to working with their brand. They need to define it, capture it and express it well in order to communicate the right message to prospects and clients. It is one of the most crucial things agents or brokers can do to grow their business.
The way that your brand is expressed through your marketing and advertising can be referred to as your “brand voice.” There are four important elements to consider when defining your agency’s voice.
No. 1: Character
The character of a brand’s voice is the way that its voice is represented. It’s the focal point of the brand’s relationship with its audience. A brand character can be more conceptual or it can be embodied in an individual or spokesperson.
For many insurance agents or brokers and other professional service providers, their brand character is just a representation of themselves. Because a service offering is so wrapped up in the individual who executes it, it makes sense for an audience to interact directly with the agent’s public persona.
Character is made up of two distinct elements: character appearance and character personality. The images and pictures agents and brokers use in their marketing serve as the visual representation of their brand. Professional headshots, appropriate attire, and even friendly facial expressions can go a long way to creating an inviting character.
Those who choose to let their company exist as an entity without using their own likeness as a representation face the same challenges as those who act as their own spokesperson. A logo can be imbued with as much personality as a picture of a human being. It is all about creating a clear set of attributes that can be expressed in the other elements of brand voice.
No. 2: Purpose
Once a character is defined, it becomes crucial that an audience understand the goals and aims of that character, and, in turn, the company it represents. This is where a brand purpose comes in. Often a company will take time to establish its purpose through a mission statement that encapsulates a brand’s values, unique value and primary benefits. This mission statement can then be used to inform the brand voice by providing editorial direction for topics that are important to the brand.
Communicating your purpose is the primary goal of your brand character. When a purpose is communicated clearly it will act as a magnet attracting the ideal clients whose goals align with that purpose. Thus, the goal of every new iteration of brand expression becomes expressing purpose in some way or another.
No. 3: Tone
Tone is the situational expression of a brand. It can change from situation to situation and from subject to subject but it is always some version of the overall voice. Tone is expressed through the positions you take on different matters as well as the volume and insistence of your communication.
When considering tone there are several situations in which an agency or brokerage can expect the need for communication to arise: the sales process, troubleshooting, apologies and financial transactions. By determining the tone that’s most appropriate for each situation a brand can begin to build out its voice from the collective sum of all the different tones used.
No. 4: Language
A big part of brand voice is the language that it uses to express itself. It defines the purpose, illustrates the character and sets the tone. There are many questions to answer when considering what type of language to use in your marketing. How these questions are answered is the process by which the rest of the brand voice elements are defined.
One aspect of a brand’s language is how formal it is. Insurance agents and brokers will often lean towards more formal language. This can be expressed with slightly longer and more complex sentences, the inclusion of more industry terms and buzzwords, as well as a longer, more complex vocabulary.
This can go a long way to establishing expertise, but the risk with overly formal language is alienating an audience. It’s more difficult to feel a personal connection with language meant to demonstrate knowledge. As with the other elements of brand voice, there is a tightrope act between presenting a polished persona and allowing the audience to connect with the more human side of the company.
When considering the voice of your brand you should focus on each of the different elements and define the parameters in which your brand will operate. One powerful technique is to phrase things in a “we are, we are not” paradigm. By establishing the type of character, purpose, tone and language with which their brand will and will not be associated insurance agents and brokers can begin to put finite edges on their brand voice, which can be an elusive and difficult to communicate concept. It’s worth spending time with this exercise as a cohesive voice will not only attract an agent or broker’s ideal clients, but will also act as a catalyst to continued engagement from existing clients.
How you say it
When it comes to defining the elements of a brand, discovering the brand’s voice is one of the most difficult hurdles to overcome — and tone is one of the most important attributes.
In Mailchimp’s brand guide, the company has this to say about tone:
“What’s the difference between voice and tone? Think of it this way: You have the same voice all the time, but your tone changes. You might use one tone when you’re out to dinner with your closest friends and a different tone when you’re in a meeting with your boss. The same is true for MailChimp. Our voice doesn’t change much from day to day, but our tone changes all the time.”