If you have the capabilities of creating a unique voice for your brand, and products, this can help to define why your products and services are unique, and can set you apart from the marketplace. Building momentum from this platform does have relevance and can significantly impact the marketplace and your customers perception of your brand. Who are you? What do you stand for? How are you unique? What are your brand attributes? Set expectations realistically because not meeting expectations has a HUGE Negative impact on your brand voice, and message. Always be truthful in the expectations you set for your products and brand, and then work hard to meet those expectations.
4 Tips For Identifying Your Brand’s Voice
by Julie Polk
Senior Writer, Brand Development
In an age where everyone has a microphone, a distinctive, authentic voice is more important than ever. Voice is the external expression of what makes us unique. It creates a dialogue with the people who consume whatever it is you provide, whether it’s books, telescopes, or investment advice.
- You’ll know when you’ve reached the right words because people embrace it immediately.
- Voice attributes should work together like the legs of a stool—each holds up a specific area, but the result is a single seat.
- The key to finding your organization’s voice is asking questions.
But voice isn’t a veneer. It can’t be invented or imposed, and it’s hard to define by committee (raise your hand if you’ve ever sat in a meeting where powerful ideas were pulverized into nonsense with the sledgehammer of groupthink). So how do you get to the attributes that define a uniquely expressive voice—one that truly reflects who you are as an organization?
These four steps can help:
1. Be specific: We can be easily seduced into thinking we’ve dug more deeply than we really have. Take the word “original,” for example. It’s appealing. Who doesn’t want to sound original in a world clogged with copies? But if you press on it just a little, some questions come up: Original in what way? Is this an organization that’s the first of its kind, a whole new animal? Then “groundbreaking” would be more precise. Or is this a company that’s already a leader in its category, but thinks differently from its competitors about what leadership means? In that case “unconventional” would be a better fit because it pinpoints the source of the organization’s originality.
You’ll know when you’ve reached the right words because people embrace it immediately. When Siegel+Gale helped global design consultant Stantec define its voice as “inventive,” “assured,” and “genuine,” it resonated so strongly that the firm created an entireWeb site for employees to post microstories about what Stantec meant to them.
2. Make it usable: Your voice attributes have to provide concrete creative guidance. Thinking of the word “human” might be a good way for a technology company to start stripping jargon from its writing, but it’s too broad to work with from a creative standpoint. A word like “unpretentious,” on the other hand, lets writers and designers know that they need to use straightforward, simple language and visual elements in even the most technical documents.
3. Build in a range: Voice attributes should work together like the legs of a stool—each holds up a specific area, but the result is a single seat. If they overlap too much, you limit your expressive range.Dropbox does a great job of offering its high-performance business services in a simple, approachable way. I’d assign them the attributes “smart,” “inviting,” and “unflappable.” Together, those capture the down-to-earth warmth of the Dropbox B2B voice—which makes it appealing as a potential long-term business partner—along with the calm-under-pressure quality that’s at the heart of its promise to protect customers’ work.
4. Ask questions: As with any other kind of self-examination, the key to finding your organization’s voice is asking questions. I’ve found these particularly useful, but there’s an infinite variety of questions or scenarios you could use. The key is to make sure you’re zeroing in on words that feel authentic, allow you a range of expression, and give your creative teams concrete guidance. Consider:
- What three words would you want people to use to describe your organization?
- If your organization were transformed into an actual person, who would it be and why? What is it about how that person communicates resonates with you? This could be a real person or a fictional character. The important thing is that they have a distinctive, effective way of communicating. Use three adjectives to describe that person.
- You have a chance to redesign your office. How would you describe the look and feel you want to an architect or interior designer?
Once you’ve defined your voice, start playing with it. Rewriting headlines is a great way to begin—you really have to focus your writing to express your idea in voice in just a few words. Use it for internal as well as external communications. Take a stab at rewriting and designing your mission statement, values, and anything that gets to the heart of who you are and why you’re in business.
It may feel a bit awkward at first, but the connections you’ll make with customers—and the long-term loyalty a clear identity helps foster—are well worth the effort.
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