Brand Voice: Who are you to whom and why

February 13, 2014

As of this week, I’m in my 8th month of the adventure in building a brand voice. By day, my working for a well known strategic branding firm has taught me the logical steps involved in crafting and managing a brand voice. By night however, I run my own podcast network, where I’ve taken some pretty non-logical routes to find the right voice for whom we’re talking to. So, for those who don’t necessarily have insider knowledge as to how brand voices are conveyed out into the world, here’s three balancing acts I’ve encountered in the voice-building process.

Consistency vs. adaptability: Your voice needs to be clear and consistent throughout your communications and interactions. That said, your voice should adapt to the medium and audience you’re working with. Identify key voice consistencies that form the core of your identity and positioning, adapting your messages on that basis for relevant interactions.

My podcast was started as “The Word Ninjas Podcast”. Our voice took a solid 10 episodes to really sort itself out. This was due to our lack of proper planning, sorting out authority voices, and not fully realizing just what we wanted the show to accomplish. After multi-hour strategy sessions off-air, we determined who was responsible for which segments and how each person’s unique personality could be utilized in the overall show. Acknowledging that all five of us have specialties allows for us to blend our skills into the ideal brand voice, conveying our key message of: Adaptive creativity in a multitasking world.

Perception vs. reality: Your perception vs. your reality of the brand voice’s public reception should be as closely aligned as feasible. Strive for your ideal setup and identity; work with the reality of your audience to make that perception/reality gap as minute as feasible.

My perception of a podcast is: An audio-based show regularly produced, distributed through aggregators (iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play, etc.), and promoted via social media. The reality is there are both audio and video podcasts, utilizing a seemingly infinite combination of hardware, software, people, and resources. My perception was to start a podcast via Google Hangouts on Air and easily convert it to audio to just toss onto iTunes. My reality was that conversion is tedious and time-consuming and XML tags make HTML and CSS feel like a walk in the park. My perception was to build up my off-line audience and launch the brand voice off through them. The reality was not everyone likes YouTube, Google Hangouts, live-streams, or weekend shows awkwardly timed right before dinnertime.

Scripts vs. Candid / Off-the-cuff: While frustration-induced productivity has its place, a solid game plan makes for a much smoother experience. Scripts and practices are important as preparation for off-the-cuff dialogue.

I started off my show with the mindset of “I’ve talked about doing this long enough, I’m just gonna do it.” The original voice concept was, “I’m gonna talk about writing. I’m a writer, so this should be easy.” Taking all these balancing acts into account, we’ve evolved into the “Word Ninjas Liveshow.” Preparation and script building allowed for us to best understand what can be conveyed when and how.

WNL Stats-01

The “Word Ninjas” voice has since gained the back-end planning and support to ensure that all five members of the show are on the same proverbial page and able to convey who we are to whom we want to reach. Thanks to focusing on the brand voice, we’ve collectively accomplished several milestones and have several more planned, prepped, and coming up in 2014.

What lessons have you learned during your brand voice creation and management?

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