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With brands having so many bases to cover when trying to connect with their audiences, sometimes it sounds like a huge din, as if every company is shouting in dozens of different voices.

I-COM’s digital marketing team conducted a survey of over 500 consumers about how they were affected by a brand’s voice. The results were interesting, with many consumers either hating or being indifferent to the way brands speak to them. But before we delve into the results, let’s take a look at why having a brand voice is so important.

Why is brand voice so important?


Your brand voice is not necessarily just about what you say but how you say it. And in marketing terms, that means how it’s written. Crafting a brand voice that speaks directly to an audience is no mean feat, but when you get it right it can be used to persuade and influence an audience to buy your products or use your services.

One simple request can be articulated in different ways, conjuring different responses from different audiences. For example:

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Although the final way may seem abrupt, it’s also direct, which certain audiences will like, likewise with the first one appearing polite and lengthy. Building your brand voice will take time but you’ll know you’ve got a successful brand voice when it goes unnoticed - after all you want people to notice your business and not your writing.

What brands are getting wrong

Many brands are guilty of changing their brand voice to follow the latest trend because they think it will prove popular or perhaps because a competitor has. But, according to our survey, many respondents (64%) either dislike or hate seeing brands use ‘cool’ terms, such as ‘bae’, ‘YOLO’ and ‘totes’, while 24% expressed indifference. This objection is likely down to the fact that companies are using these expressions unironically for the wrong audience or in the wrong way. This can result in a customer or client not using your services as they may feel disengaged from your brand.

When respondents were asked how they felt about a set of slang terms, ‘bae’ came out on top as the most hated with ‘babes’ in second and ‘abs’ in third, while participants were far less bothered by ‘ship’ and ‘drag’. Take a look below to see the full top 10, including definitions:

10. ‘drag’
- metaphorically meaning ‘rake over the coals’ i.e. burn them

9. ‘ship’ - short for romantic relationship, popularised in fanfiction circles

8. ‘sus’ - doing something scandalous

7. ‘fleek’ - used to describe something that is ‘on point’

6. ‘YOLO’ - you only live once

5. ‘totes’ - a shorter more convenient form of the word: totally

4. ‘goals AF’ - refers to something you admire or want

3. ‘abs’ - a shorter more convenient form of the word: absolutely

2. ‘babes’ - an endearing term

1. ‘bae’ - used to describe boyfriend/girlfriend or any other sort of significant other; “before anyone else”

Participants described brands’ use of these slang terms as ‘tragic’, ‘a bit cringe’ and appearing to be ‘written by a 37-year-old white man’. While for other respondents, they had no idea what any of these words meant, so we’ve helped you navigate the wonderful and ridiculous world of slang by creating a bot to help with definitions.

Slang Bot

Other areas highlighted in the survey as unlikeable or hated include brands using too many hashtags (50%), newsjacking (when brands use a topical event to promote themselves) (44%) and piggybacking on a tragedy or celebrity’s death (40%).

However, participants pointed out to decide whether activity is ridiculous or not ‘it just depends on how it’s used’: “If it’s done appropriately, I don’t care one way or the other. If it’s done badly, I hate it.” One participant explained that ‘a reaction to an event/tragedy shows a company’s social media is run by humans’ and it becomes inappropriate when ‘it feels exploitative or opportunistic’. Another respondent said activity such as newsjacking only works ‘if the brand has a real connection with the event’ and ‘if it’s nothing to do with the brand and they’re just piggybacking then I don’t like it’.

How to get it right

Building your brand voice will take time and it’s not just a case of following the latest trend because you think it’s cool. It might take a couple of iterations before you find the one that’s best for your company, but the end result will represent your brand accurately and with character and will speak to your target audience.

To help you find your Brand Voice we’ve created a handy three part questionnaire which takes you through the process of creating a clear and identifiable brand voice.


Our advice would be to turn this into a collaborative process including all the departments in the company. If you’d like to read more about creating a brand voice, take a look at this blog post as well.

If you have any questions about brand voice, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with our digital marketing team on 0161 402 3170. Alternatively, fill in our online contact form and we will get back to you shortly.


Liam Hughes Content Strategist