The Purpose of an Authentic Brand Voice

Jeff Mueller doesn’t mince words about the importance of creating genuine brands.


At 5 by 5 Design we believe it’s possible to change the world by posing the right questions, listening to the honest answers, and following the path that emerges from the dialogue. To explore how authenticity creates brands that connect to real people, we’ve tapped into thoughts from a local expert on brand voice.

Jeff Mueller, owner of Floating Head, has 20+ years’ experience as a freelance writer working for design, marketing, and ad firms, plus directly for end clients.

1. What does it mean to have an authentic brand voice?

Authenticity is a characteristic we all claim to want in our lives—why not in our work, our business, and our brands? It’s incredibly easy, and frankly lazy, to sound like everyone else.

2. Why is it important for a brand to sound real?

Without an authentic voice you are nothing. You are a soul-less commodity, a widget on the high shelf that no one bothers to reach for; you are just a bland vegetable in a stew that no one can really identify.

3. How do you go about achieving brand authenticity?

It sounds like every marketing/branding website intro, but it’s true (if you actually do it), listen, listen, listen, ask, ask, ask, and listen some more. Be willing to bring a few pairs of shoes from the backroom to try on… a half size can make all the difference.

4. Should your brand voice sound different in social media than in other channels? How or why?

In small, subtle, and smart degrees. Just like you’d speak to your Aunt Gwendolyn differently than you’d speak to your old maniac college friend—adjust volume, loquaciousness, and rethink the profanity (so to speak). Consider context and the room you’re in. But never abandon the core of who you are.

5. How do you measure if the voice is being genuine or not?

It’s a difficult element to measure. Ultimately, the people that represent the brand should never feel awkward in their voice, or make excuses for their voice. Authenticity is a bit cosmic and instinctive. It’s a skin, (perhaps with tattoos or scars and of every shade and color) that fits.

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