How to find your unique brand voice
Do you know what your ‘brand voice’ sounds like? If I asked you to describe it to me right now, could you? Is it irreverent? Is it serious? Is it insightful? Or does it sound like Pee Wee Herman?
I know it’s a hard question to answer but it’s important — really important — because your voice is one of your most compelling online assets. It’s what makes me want to read on, watch on, listen on — or just skip to the latest and greatest dancing panda video.
So, what exactly is a brand voice?
Your ‘voice’ isn’t just the words you write and the ideas you share. While they’re important aspects that help you connect with your audience, your brand voice runs much deeper. It’s more than just what you say: it’s how you say what you say, and why you say it in that way.
Your voice is your attitude. It showcases your individuality and it’s the very thing that helps you stand out from all the other voices online. Just like every character in a TV show has a different voice, every brand, company and public figure has a different voice. Chandler Bing from Friends is sarcastic, Lisa in The Simpsons is intellectual and Kim Kardashian is, well, it depends on what week it is.
But really, your voice affects everything; your expression, the words you choose to include (like these, and these, and these), your sentence structure, and more. Voice is particularly important online because it turns the experience of reading a blog piece, a tweet, or a newsletter into a personal one.
Can your brand voice change?
When I work with clients to help establish and develop their brand voice, they often ask ‘What if I define my voice incorrectly?’ My advice is ‘Nothing is set in stone.‘ The way you describe your voice this year might be different to the way you describe it next year. And that’s OK. Just as your brand grows and develops, your voice can evolve too.
And if you have multiple brands — a personal brand, a professional brand, and you moonlight as a dominatrix — you will need multiple voices. My voice as a comic differs from my voice as an author, which is completely different from my voice as a journalist. All of which are totally different from the voice inside my head constantly nagging me to lose another 5kgs.
Practise makes perfect
Perfecting your voice doesn’t happen overnight. In my book Capture My Attention, I interviewed amazing people who have inspired me creatively and professionally, including Mark Malkoff — the genius comedian and filmmaker behind some of the best videos on YouTube, including The Apple Store Challenge and Mark Lives In IKEA. (Yes, Mark lived in IKEA in New Jersey for a week and filmed the whole project. What a hero.)
Mark says the best way to find your voice, and boost your skills, is with a technique we all know. “You have to practise, practise, practise,” he says. “It doesn’t matter if you’re doing videos, if you’re doing music, if you’re doing comedy – it normally takes time to find one’s voice, and that just comes from doing it.”
So, where’s the best place to start?
Where should you begin? What do you need in order to start defining and refining your voice? Whether you’re a high-rolling investment banker or a stay-at-home Mum launching a new pineapple pancake mix, the best place to start is with the very first step: describing your brand’s personality with three words.
Here’s a few examples just to give you a taste.
Life is short. Eat tacos while you still have teeth.
— Taco Bell (@tacobell) November 12, 2016
The only bad taco is the one you didn't eat.
— Taco Bell (@tacobell) November 7, 2016
Everyday is just a new opportunity to eat tacos.
— Taco Bell (@tacobell) October 20, 2016
I would describe Taco Bell’s voice in these tweets as cheeky, daring and quirky.
— Nike (@Nike) August 20, 2016
I would describe Nike’s voice in this tweet as strong, confident and inspiring.
So, what three words would you choose to describe your brand’s personality?
(Tweet me your three words at @JordanaOZ and in exchange I’ll send you the link to the dancing panda video! It’s awesome.)
Jordana’s new book, Capture My Attention: How to Stand Out Online with Creative Content is your ultimate guide to getting creative online. Filled with hands-on strategies and techniques, plus workbook-style exercises, Capture My Attention will help you instantly generate captivating content that will attract attention and make you stand out from your competitors.Back