3. Building a brand voice for your new product
Start with a set of brand principles. These can be 3 or 4 adjectives that embody your brand, and how you want people to perceive it. To come up with these adjectives you can do a brainstorming exercise.
Imagine you’re signing up your product to a dating site.
What words or info would you put in your products profile? What is it about your product that make it stand out. What makes it seem most interesting to people?
What would make them want to swipe right and want to learn more?
You can then distill these qualities into descriptive words. These will then become your brand principles.
With Google Pay the principles were: fresh, empathetic and approachable.
Now you have your brand principles. The next step is what these principles will sound like when you apply them to your writing. These will then become your writing guidelines.
You can then take it one step further and think about what your voice will sound like in different contexts. This is tone.
An easy way to remember the difference between voice and tone, is to think about it like a person. A person’s voice stays the same. The tone they talk to you in may change, depending on the situation or what they’re saying.
In an app this might be like talking to users in a different way for different circumstances.
For Android Pay they mapped these different moments on a user journey. They did it in a tone spectrum ranging from serious to whimsical. This makes sure that they’re using our voice in a consistent way across the entire user experience.
For your product the two ends of the spectrum might be called something different. Your tone might range from informative to inspiring or direct to humorous. Once you’ve created your two ends, you then need to determine what moments in the user journey you’re going to map.
A good way to do this is to think about the distinct milestones or interactions in your user experience. These can be things like on-boarding, education or troubleshooting.
To help you decide where these will fall on the spectrum, you can then think about:
- What is the user’s goal?
- What might they be feeling in that moment?
- What would you like them to feel?
Now let’s do some UX writing 🤓
So you’ve established your voice and you’ve mapped your tone. Now, apply both of these and do some UX writing.
It’s time to decide what words will go in to your user interface. This ends up being a combination of everything we’ve talked about.
To be successful your interface text needs to:
- Be clear
- Be concise
- Be useful
- Reflect your brand’s natural voice
To show you how Google get there let’s walk through what their UX writing process looks like.
As an example lets try to see what they say to the user the first time they use Android Pay. They can guess that the user is curious. So they want to tell them what they can do with the app, as well as give them a reason to move beyond this screen and set it up.
At the beginning of the process they start with something descriptive like the below.
They then think about the three principles of good UX Writing. The text is clear and useful, but it’s not concise. They look at what pieces of information are essential. What parts could use visuals instead? They edit it to something like the below.
They’ve ticked off clear, concise and useful and now they need to think about tone. They then ask themselves, ‘does this text convey our brand? Not too much, it feels pretty generic’.
So going back to their brand principles they think about how they can make it fresher and more exciting. Even whimsical, as this might be their first impression on the user.
In the final iteration they end up with something like this.
It’s a little longer than before, but adding a little personality can do this. It’s up to you whether infusing this personality is worth the words. This is not always a clear decision. If you’re not sure whether some words will be more effective than others, then A/B test them.
When trying to find the right words for your product never underestimate the power of A/B testing.
They ran an A/B test on the start screen on Android Pay. They changed the button from ‘add card’ to ‘get started’ and it resulted in a 12% increase in click throughs.
A/B testing is a great way to decide between two versions of text. You can find out which one connects more with your users.