How to Build a Brand Voice That Matters {In 6 Steps}

February 7, 2018

 

1) MAKE AN IDEAL CUSTOMER AVATAR

To attract clients you actually want to work with, it’s important to know how to speak to those specific people. And we don’t mean simply talking at them; we mean making them feel like you’re speaking directly to their souls, two-peas-in-a-pod style. So, what’s the best way to know HOW to talk to the clients you want to attract? Knowing exactly WHO you want to attract. When we try to appeal to every person who could possibly use our service or product, we end up creating a diluted message that attracts just about no one {not what you want}. Instead, build your messaging around what most attracts your perfect client {singular}. To help you get some specificity on what your ideal customer avatar may look like, here are some simple questions to ask yourself:

 

  • How old is my ideal customer?

  • What type of social scene is my ideal customer in?

  • Is my ideal customer gender specific?

  • What does my ideal customer do for work?

  • What does my ideal customer care about?

  • What are three words that describe my ideal customer’s personality?

  • How does my ideal customer view money?

  • What does my ideal customer value in a service (or product)? 

 

Once you have ONE PERFECT PERSON to focus on, it becomes easy to test all your marketing efforts against your avatar and ask yourself “Would this speak to my ideal customer?”. Be careful not to get bogged down in thoughts like: “Well, aren’t I alienating all these other potential customer types by doing that?”. No. No, you’re not. Just because “Annie Avatar” is your ideal customer doesn’t mean "Ronnie Random” can’t take advantage of what you offer. It’s not about alienating people, it’s about confidently pursuing your best possibilities and allowing yourself the room to say “yes” or “no” to the lesser ones because you have the advantage of a clear vision to build your brand voice around. We’re in the business of helping you get the six scoop ice cream sundae, but we’re not going to deny you the fudge, the sprinkles and the cherry on top if that’s your thing. 

 

 

2) HARNESS THE FEELS 

You may not be the touchy-feely-“let’s talk about the whispers of our hearts”-type {and that’s okay}, but in order to create effective marketing, you do have to understand that motivation stems from emotion {including the motivation to buy}. Our decisions about whether or not we like a brand are directly correlated to how that brand makes us feel, and even more deeply, how well that brand speaks to how we want to feel about ourselves. {You came for a psychology lesson today, right?}. Understanding who people want to be when they interact with your company is a key component in creating influence. Here are some handy questions to help you get IN THE FEELS of your brand voice:

 

  • How do I want people to feel when they interact with my brand?

  • I want my brand voice to make people ___________. {i.e. “think”, “laugh”, “relax”, “act”, etc}

  • I want my brand voice to be ____________, _____________ and _____________. {i.e. “likable”, “down to earth”, “humorous”, “quirky”, “sophisticated”, etc}

  • What first impression do I want my brand to leave?

  • I want my brand to offer ___________, ____________ and ____________ to people. {i.e. “inspiration”, “education”, “value”, “reliability”, etc}

  • I don’t want my brand to feel ____________, ____________ or _____________. {i.e. “salesy”, “desperate”, “pushy”, “inconsistent”, “stuffy”, “impersonal”, etc}

  • I don’t like when brands make me feel: ____________________________. {i.e. “bombarded”, “stereotyped”, “unrepresented”, “non-conforming”, etc}

    • Pro-tip: To help you with this one, try to think of times when you avoided a storefront or unsubscribed from a list and pinpoint the emotions you were feeling when you made that choice.

  • My best communications skills are: ________________________________. {i.e. “good listener”, “insightfulness”, “analysis”, “honesty”, “humor”, “empathy”, etc}

 

 

3) STUDY YOUR HEROES

Put together a list of brands you love and get to work defining exactly what it is that makes each brand so likable to you. Ask yourself how the brand makes you feel, what approaches they use that appeal to you and how their brand voice comes across. For example, if you’re OBSESSED with Nike’s brand, you’re probably a bit of a DOER {someone who likes to get out and get sh*t done} and enjoy straightforward marketing that gets right to point {after all, you can’t get much more to the point than “JUST DO IT”}. The brand probably makes you feel inspired, motivated and like you’re part of a larger community of DOERs who thrive on the hustle. You can see how in a very short amount of time, a personality starts to come together based on something as simple as a brand preference. Once you have your favorite brands picked out and you’ve done the work to define what you enjoy about them, take a step back and identify the commonalities from each and how you might be able to emulate those same characteristics in unique ways in your brand voice. 

 

 

4) PERFORM A SELF-QUESTIONNAIRE

Effective brand voices are all about PERSONALITY. You not only need to think about the personality you want to appeal to, but the personality you want your business to embody. To make an impact, that personality has to fit who you genuinely are or it'll run the risk of falling flat. This may sound like a tall order but don’t worry, we’ve put together some simple questions to help you define your CORE CHARISMA, the things that give you that little somethin-somethin nobody else has:

 

  • My best personality traits are: _____________, _____________, ____________, ____________, and _____________.

    • Pro-tip: If this piece is a bit of a struggle for you, think about what you get complimented on or how people often act when they’re around you; if you’re always making people laugh, chances are you’re pretty funny whether you like to admit it or not. If people are always opening up to you or coming to you for advice, you may be a good listener or have high emotional intelligence, etc.

  • I care about making other people feel _____________. {i.e. “heard”, “comfortable”, “relaxed”, “inspired”, “motivated”, etc.}

  • If I had to pick just one good thing I bring to the world that matters, it would be: ____________. {i.e. “joy”, “truth”, “compassion”, “adventure”, “novelty”, “faith”, “inspiration”, “education”, etc.}

    • A note: You obviously bring more than just one good thing to the world, but the process of picking one is meant to help you define your true north, the guiding principle that matters MOST to your personality {more on that in #6 below}. To give you a real example, my answer to this question is “authenticity”. Authenticity is my charismatic core; it is the most powerful thing I bring to the world and it governs everything I do.

    • Pro-tip: If you're struggling to come up with an answer, try thinking about the trait you most admire in others. This will often help you identify a trait in yourself that’s most important to who you are. 

  • What difficult experiences have I gone through that have given me unique insights?

  • How might I use those experiences/insights to serve others in my business?

  • My friends and family like hanging out with me because _____________________________.

 

 

5) PHONE A FRIEND THAT GETS YOU

Once you have some solid ideas for how you want your brand voice to sound {or better yet, some actual content to test out}, reach out to a close friend {one that really gets you at a deep level}. Run your ideas on content by them and get their opinion. Having someone who truly understands and knows you to bounce ideas off of is invaluable. They’ll be able to give you real feedback in a comfortable environment without fear of hurting your feelings. Discuss whether or not the brand voice “sounds like you” and if there’s anything they might add or take away from your approach. For example, you may see yourself as a somewhat serious, straightforward-information type of person but perhaps your close friend thinks the way you deliver things with dry sarcasm is one of your best traits. Make sure you listen to those opinions and stay open to how to incorporate new suggestions into your approach - without overthinking it {which we'll discuss below}.

 

 

6) FOLLOW YOUR TRUE NORTH

You may be asking yourself....”What is this ‘true north’ nonsense and what the heck does it have to do with my brand?”. Well, we’ll start by saying there’s many a book, podcast and article about this topic but in summation: your true north is the guiding principle by which all other things are directed. Every decision and action is weighed against your true north to guarantee you’re building a life {and a business} by design, not by default. This idea applies to your brand voice as well. Too many entrepreneurs get caught in the trap of overthinking other people's opinions about what they should or shouldn’t be doing: we call this "analysis paralysis". Sadly, some people who find themselves in this position end up never forming an identity at all. So...should you ask a close friend if you can bounce brand ideas off of them? Yes. Should you study what’s working for other companies in branding? Of course. Should you post potential company names, logo designs and the like on social media and ask people’s opinions? Sure, why the heck not?! Should you allow what other people think or what other companies are doing to dictate how your company and brand voice are formed? Absolutely not. While success examples and opinion polls can be useful in helping you make business decisions, they cannot be your only basis for them. This is a classic mistake of allowing outside influence to control your actions rather than creating from the inside out based on what fits you most genuinely. We all need a little polish to make us razzle-dazzle under the spotlight, but if the person underneath the polish is no longer recognizable when it’s all said and done, the ability to create connection and relation with others is lost. At the end of the day, a business is a reflection of the people behind it, and brand voice is the mouthpiece through which the humanity of a company takes shape.

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