The first point of connection between a baby and the outside world is the voice—a culmination of an intricate process by which the baby breathes in air, and breathes out a first cry.
So many things must come together to create that moment that holds so many possibilities. Having recently experienced this, I can say firsthand: its big.
But the process of finding a voice is not unique to humans. From the most basic perspective, a voice is the connecting force between inner and outer worlds. A voice is authentic, something innate that can also be developed.
We’re inundated with information all day, every day. And despite this, from within the murky waters of our memories, we can all identify voices that remain clear—the voices of our families and our friends, of course, but also the voices of the leaders, movements, and brands we identify with.
Voice = Trust
It's a natural human inclination to cleave to what’s familiar and recognizable. Nike, Ikea, Apple, we somehow know how these brands “talk.” We know their idiosyncrasies and motivations. These brands have been around a while, and though they say many different things: announcing new products, pushing different events and sales, etc., we generally expect to hear the same voice speaking.
The tone and voice should dictate all of the brand's interactions and remain consistent throughout all communication. It would feel strange to experience a brand voice as professional and concise on Facebook and then receive a newsletter that’s warm, conversational, and casual.
A voice is not something you create for a brand, its something innate—an expression of the people and values behind the brand.
Prospects want to feel that their connection to a brand is more than just a transaction; that it represents shared values and an emotional identification. Oftentimes, brands themselves are unaware of their core values and voice—but not all is lost. At any stage of your brand’s development, some thorough research can help you discover the voice and values already coloring your communication with the outside world.
Values are the pure expression of the brand’s voice that informs how the brand behaves in the world.
Coca Cola proudly displays their values on their website, and (I would guess) internally in their offices and boardrooms, too.
The Hamster Wheel of Content
The recent surge in content marketing has allowed brands to reach new and vast audiences. The good: exposure. The bad: it can be hard to be authentic when pumping out endless streams of content.
This is where medium comes into play. Depending on your brand voice, different mediums will be better suited to sharing your messages and reaching your target audiences. Some entrepreneurs strike gold when they launch a podcast. Some more visually-oriented brands make it big on Instagram. Some brands rely exclusively on video. Some thrive in print marketing.
Brands will often try to adapt their voice to the platform they are using. This strategy is a mistake. Instead, focus on the platforms that can carry your voice well.
Let’s Get Human
It's fun to think of brands having human qualities: values, voice, personality. But this strategy of applying human traits to nonhuman entities is more than a clever marketing tactic. Real emotional connection transcends trends, technology, platforms, prices, and all other constraints.
The most successful brands capitalize on this universal desire to connect by making their brands as human as possible. These are the brands with clear, consistent, and slightly imperfect voices. And these are the brands we remember, and love, the most.
Margaret Kerr-Jarrett is the Content Director for Wisdom Tribe and Tribe Creative. Originally from Indianapolis, Indiana, she now lives in Jerusalem with her family. She is passionate about the power of words and dreams of retiring from the business world to work on her first dream: becoming a poet. For now, though, she's loving being a part of the start-up scene in the start-up nation.