Brand voice: learn from small brands (and how to use AI)

Content and social by design, no corporate buzz and down to earth

Sometimes we can learn the most from those super passionate smaller brands. We don’t always have to look at the big ones to be inspired. Especially regarding content, as most of us don’t have big brands' budgets.

It's the brand voice that creates the vibe in the communications; the smaller brands and startups nail it by being free of the corporate buzz and more down to earth. Above all, they created their brand voice with content and social in mind.

The brand voice is the unique personality, tone, and style a brand uses to express itself and connect to its customers, written and visually. We're aware that a strong brand voice is essential for brand building and communicating the brand's values and identity, and it helps to differentiate the brand from its competitors and become recognizable to its audience. 


What you will learn…

  • How to find your brand voice
  • Example: Ironclad Pan
  • Brand tone
  • Brand persona
  • How to use ChatGPT for this


Why it matters

We all know the importance of a brand voice. As for so many things, the tone makes the music – and the content. Yet, getting it right is a whole different thing.

The corporate brand identity and voice are mostly bullsh*t full of jargon and meaningless buzzwords. Learn from the smaller brands and start-ups; they are way more tangible and applicable.


How to find your brand voice

Who you are, defines how you look and feel. Your brand story, heritage, the people who work for you (team) and with you (friends and influencers), your license to operate and your purpose, and your values… they all define your identity.

Then it’s the magic to translate your identity into a brand voice: your tone and your personality.


ironcladpan triplet


Best in class, Ironclad Pan

As I prefer to refrain from the boring theory, I’ll lead by example. Recently Joe Carter sent me the Ironclad Pan’s brand kit, and I was nothing short of amazed.



It’s clear, simple, human, applicable, and most of all, very recognizable in its outstanding, engaging content on .com and socials.

Honestly, I've seen over 45 brands, from huge corporates like eBay and JDE to the big like Volkswagen, Peugeot, Toyota, KLM, and G-Star RAW, to the small start-ups like OneFit... This is the first time I have seen a brand describing its identity in such a clear and applicable way. 

With his approval, I share how their brand story seamlessly fits into the purpose and values, and this translates into the brand tone and personality of a funky, young grandma.


→ First, some background info on Ironclad Pan to fully understand why their brand voice is so on point.


The brand story breaths passion

‘Since our inception in 2019, we have been the only cast iron cookware with a Three Generation GuaranteeTM made in Aotearoa, New Zealand. And now we’re the only cast iron cookware with a Three Generation GuaranteeTM made in Australia.'

'We’re a small, local business creating a global community that care about the food they eat, how they cook it, and the planet they live on.’


The team is human 

Founded in 2019 by Kate Slavin, Levi Slavin, and Joe Carter. Later they added chef and film director Felicity Morgan-Rhind and Nic Bastian for the Aussie growth to the team. 

With a personal note from Joe 
'One thing I would say is that it isn't always easy to stick to those principles and values. And sometimes, the mission feels unattainable. But we know that it's the right thing to do, and that's important to us.'

In the picture below, you see Joe and Kate. 


ironcladpan Joe and Cate


Their purpose is honest and extensive

You can only love this and them…

‘To help people make better cookware choices. We are inspired by generations past, the beauty of traditional craft, and by making products that will last.'

‘The Ironclad family is all about things that are good for you, and good for the planet. We hope to encourage our community to take stock and consider the food they eat, how they cook it, and the impact on the planet we inhabit.’

'As a small team ourselves, we are also driven to support small, local businesses. The kitchenware industry is dominated by a number of large corporations and retailers, sourcing from offshore and reaping the commercial - if not so sustainable - benefits. We’re here to support the little guys and back those with a similar ethos to our Ironclad family.’


Their values are sweet and short

‘We try to make every decision based on three pillars - Sustainability, Quality, and Family.’


How this translates into the brand voice

With all that in mind, they made it very tangible. What you can learn from them is the seamless similarity between who they are and how they look & feel.

What Ironclad Pan is doing very smartly is describing its brand persona based on brand tone. 

Notice that the brand tone is more overarching and descriptive than the operational level of the tone of voice.  


1. Brand tone

‘We are a premium, aspirational, high-quality brand. We come from a wealth of knowledge and research, from not just our own experience but also from working with fellow enthusiasts and craftspeople.'

'We strive constantly to learn more in order to look after our planet. We are optimistic - glass half-full types, genuinely excited about sharing our discovery of how much better locally sourced cast iron is to cook with than modern non-stick cookware.’




2. Brand persona

Here comes the funky, young grandma, finally! The persona is the personification of your brand. Very smart to have this in place; it makes the brand and its tone of voice very tangible and operational for content and social. What if your brand were a person…?

‘If our brand were a person, they would be a funky young grandmother who loves to cook and is environmentally aware.' 

‘She loves organic, seasonal food that is either experimental or entrenched in memory and family rituals.’

‘She cooks healthy and delicious food that feeds the soul and the wider family.’ 

‘She recycles and composts. She buys quality goods.’ 

‘She’s ahead of the latest trends, always up with what is happening in the world.’ 

'She is warm, chatty, nurturing, outgoing and strong.’




How this all comes together in content and social

Just check out their Instagram and .com, including all recipes. I just don’t know how to describe it. It breathes passion and craftsmanship. 

Next to that, they rock in producing content. Eye candy, mouthwatering visuals, and superb copy. As if it’s all homemade with so much care by a funky, young grandma. Everything they post is amazing and makes me drool for food and start cooking myself (again).


How to use ChatGPT to define your brand voice

We all know ChatGPT is the way forward. Yet how to go from average to good to great? It's the combination between you and ChatGPT that creates the magic. 

You can use AI to define your brand voice. This one is easier than you think and is a lifesaver.


1. Let ChatGPT describe your brand voice

First: collect
Find two or three written content pieces that reflect your brand voice. Leading by example, I copied two of my latest articles on my newsroom thinklikeapublisher.com.

Second: prompt 
Go to ChatGPT and use the prompt ‘Can you define a tone of voice based on the text below? + copy-paste the text of the first content piece, and hit enter. Read the result.

Then: refine
Use the prompt ‘Can you refine with the copy below? + copy-paste the text of the second content piece, and hit enter. Read the result.

Get the final description
Use the prompt ‘Can you combine both descriptions of the tone of voice?’ If it doesn't reflect who you are, add a third or even a fourth example. If the result reflects who you are, copy-paste the text to Word or text editor. 

Clean up, edit where needed, and save it. 


2. Use your brand voice to rewrite copy

Next, you can use that description to rewrite existing copy or AI output. The prompt to use to rewrite in your tone of voice. Once you have the desired result, use the prompt ‘Can you rewrite the answer above in this tone of voice: ….'


3. Last steps: refine, visual, and mobile by design

This is indispensable and where the real magic happens. Copy-paste the result to Word and refine.

First: sanity check
As ChatGPT doesn't reveal its sources, it's up to you to do the final check. Check the validity, sanity, and if it's really true. ChatGPT is a bot, has input till 2021, and can make mistakes. Many mistakes.

Think for yourself. Does this make sense? 

Second: fine-tune
Make the ChatGPT output your own. Get nerdy in the details of the copy, play around, have some fun, use Grammarly Pro (or don’t), and lastly, get some flow in your copy. 

Rule of thumb: read your copy out loud. If it flows, it flows. If it doesn't, you stumble on words and sentences; you've got some more work to do. ChatGPT is a language model. Not a content creator. That’s you. And that’s where your job comes in. Don't be lazy or cut corners.


Final words

Well, needless to say, I’m a big fan of their product. With Ironclad Pan, it are the people behind the brand make me love them. Not because I’m a foodie, because I love something authentic, passionate, breathing, and people who are eager to share what makes them tick.

For me, that’s what makes the difference between buying from Le Creuset or Ironclad Pan. Go big and commercial, or go small and local. Not a difficult choice.  

Currently, I’m just waiting for their EU expansion, as the shipping costs from NZ to the Netherlands are still crazy.



Ironclad Pan
And give them a follow on social; it's worth it. Over 22k people agree with me. 

Shop well. Buy once.