I hear this all the time: You’ve got your company’s mission statement down, your key talking points in place, and your Q&A finalized. And you’re ready to be done, until you read it one more time. And something feels—off.
Sometimes, we get so obsessed with saying the right thing, in the right way, in the right order, that we lose the heart and soul of our message. What we say about our brand is important, but how we say it is even more crucial. In the end, you want to move people to take action in some way, whether that’s visiting your website, liking your Facebook page, or buying your product. And you’re only going to do that by making them feel something, which they’re only going to do if you bring some personality to the party.
The good news: Your brand’s funny, sassy, serious, vibrant voice is in there. If you’re a solopreneur, it’s in you. If you’re part of a large company, it’s in what you all stand for. So don’t go trying to make it up!
Instead, you’re going to need to dig it out. Whether you’re looking for it for the first time or trying to find it for the 20th, here are two different exercises to help you unearth your brand’s most authentic, compelling voice.
The “Why?” Exercise
This exercise is great at getting to the heart of why your brand exists. It may sound obvious (you founded or work for the company, don’t you know why it exists?), but new product launches and hitting Q2 numbers can distract you from the real reason you do what you do.
So, start with this question:
- Why does your brand exist?
Before even really thinking about it, write down the answer for five minutes straight. Don’t think about sticking to your talking points or throwing in the usual jargon. Just go for it.
Then, grab a coffee and read it back. What’s the most compelling thing you wrote down? Is it to inspire people to live healthier lives? Is it to inform kids about what’s happening in the world? Whatever it is, circle your favorite phrase and insert it into the question below.
- Why is it important to / that we __? (i.e. Why is it important to help people live healthier lives? Why is it important to inform kids about what’s happening in the world?)
Then, do this three more times. Each time, write for five minutes. Take a break. Read what you wrote. Circle your favorite part. And then insert that piece into the question “Why is it important to / that we ____?” and answer it.
I promise, you’re going to come up with some amazing brand fuel that you didn’t even know was in there.
Your Brand as Bob
Now that you know why your brand exists, what its personality? Witty? Inspiring? Optimistic? Sarcastic?
The best way to find out: Think of your brand as a person, and answer these questions:
- Is your brand a he or a she?
- What’s his or her first name?
- What does he or she wear?
- What does he or she look like?
- What does he or she do for fun?
- What is he or she insanely passionate about?
- What is he or she afraid of?
- What does he or she hope for?
- What are his or her friends like?
- What music does he or she listen to?
- What’s his or her favorite TV show?
I know, it sounds a little crazy. But in order for this exercise to work, you need to suspend that disbelief and answer the questions as if your brand was really a human. For example, your answer to “What does he hope for?” should not be “To hit my sales targets for Q2.”
After you’ve answered these questions on your brand’s behalf, go back and answer them in the voice of the human you’ve just created. This time around, don’t pay as much attention to the content as you do to the voice. If this person was asked what he was insanely passionate about, what tone does he use to answer that question? Is he super serious? Playful? Does he use the word “dude?” Or write “OMG?”
The biggest mistake I see companies make is when they force a brand voice into being. You know when you read a company newsletter and it just feels like it’s trying too hard? Or when a Facebook post pops up on your newsfeed from a company you’re following and it feels totally inconsistent with what you know that brand to be? That’s what you want to avoid.
There are plenty of times to look externally for inspiration. But if you’re trying to nail down your brand’s voice, you’re only going to find it if you go in.
What brands do you think have awesome, authentic voices? Let us know in the comments below!
Photo of microphone courtesy of Shutterstock.
TopicsEntrepreneurship , Tools & Skills , Marketing , Communications , Public Relations , Syndication , Branding , Running a Business , Building a Brand , Front and Center by Alex Honeysett
Alex Honeysett is a Brand and Marketing Strategist who partners with CEOs, executives and solopreneurs to grow their personal and professional brands, human-to-human. After spending nearly a decade working in PR and marketing for multimillion dollar brands and startups, Alex knows what truly drives conversions, sold-out launches, and *New York Times* interviews—and it’s not mastering the marketing flavor of the week. It’s how well you connect with the heart-beating people you’re trying to help and communicate your understanding back to them. Alex has landed coverage in print and broadcast outlets around the world, including the Today Show, *Wall Street Journal*, Mashable, BBC, NPR, and CNN. Her own articles have been featured in The Muse, *Forbes*, *Inc.*, Mashable, DailyWorth, and *Newsweek*. In addition to her extensive PR and marketing experience, Alex is a trained business coach.More from this Author