At its simplest, your brand voice is how you sound in your blog posts, social media updates and on your website - and on sales calls, in training videos and, well, anywhere where your business communicates with an audience of any kind.
So, at a minimum, you want it to sound consistent across those different platforms - which isn't to say that you can't change register. You'll likely sound a bit different in an off-the-cuff Facebook live to how you sound in the sales page for your signature programme - but it should all still feel like different parts of the same picture.
One of the ways of making sure your brand voice is always focused is by getting really clear on your core brand message. What do you want to be known for? When you know that, even if you don't consciously work on your brand voice, the chances are that it will have more clarity and consistency. If you can confidently express what makes you different from all the other life coaches/web designers/nutritionists out there, that will echo through into your brand voice.
So, some useful questions to ask yourself here are, what irritates you in your industry? What's a common misconception about ___ (whatever it is you do) or, what do potential clients often think they need to do, which you think is irrelevant, or even harming their chances of success? What's the bigger change you want to see in the world - and how can your business help towards that change (even if it's in a small way)?
If you do some journalling on those questions, you should start seeing elements of your core messaging appearing. If you combine that with thinking about how you want your clients to feel when they think about you and your business (supported? challenged to be their best selves? in good hands? inspired? nurtured? healthier? stronger? ready to take on something new?) then you're well on the way to defining your brand voice.
As a solopreneur, it can be hard to see where the line is between you and your business at the best of times - with your brand voice this can be particularly tricky. You want to sound as fully like yourself as possible, but yourself on a good day and in full professional mode.
If you're a one-to-one service-provider, then the easiest way to get into 'brand voice mode' is to imagine yourself in conversation with your absolute favourite client. That's how you sound at your best - so what's that like? You most likely sound warm and relaxed but not 'I've had four cocktails and am baring my soul' relaxed... Would you swear with clients? Are there certain topics that you talk about all the time and others that are off-limits? What kind of humour would you use? How much of your personal life do you talk about?
Do you and your favourite clients share all the same values? Do you and your business share the exact same values? There's likely to be a very big overlap in both cases, but there might be shifts in priority (so, in your personal life, humour or transparency might be hugely important, but although they are values that you carry over into your business, they might not make it into the top three there).
It's also worth bearing in mind that we all suffer from the curse of the expert, which in brand voice terms, leads to us unconsciously using jargon that turns potential clients off. So, once you've imagined yourself in conversation with a long-standing favourite client, it's also useful to imagine yourself in conversation with someone who's not just brand new to you, but also to your niche overall. Which phrases would you need to explain or at least put in context?
To simplify things even further, it's really useful to imagine yourself describing what you do to a five year old. This forces you to explain everything in simple terms and be really clear about what results you can offer.
As you can see, in all these cases, I'm aiming to get you to imagine a conversation, not a monologue. That's the space your brand voice needs to occupy - the conversational space between you and your clients (and potential clients).
If it's all about you, it won't be engaging. If it's all about them it won't feel grounded and authentic - you need to be rooted in who you are and what you do best, but be describing that in terms that are appealing to the people you're trying to reach.
Essentially, there's a venn diagram with you in the circle on one side and your clients in the circle on the other - your brand voice is in the overlap between the circles.
If you could use a fresh pair of eyes to evaluate how consistent your brand voice is across your website, social media and newsletter, you might be interested in finding out more about my Strategy Sessions, which you can do right here.