Creating content without a voice feels a lot like being locked out of your hotel room naked.
You’re desperate to find something to cover up with. You’re hoping and praying that housekeeping doesn't see you. You’re anxious about finding something (anything!) that even fits well enough to make it down to the lobby in. And your fingers are crossed that you’ll be able to find the right manager with your room key so that you can retrieve your clothes once again.
Worst of all, you're always looking over your shoulder feeling the vulnerability of your own nakedness, while secretly hoping someone else lends you their pants.
Talk about a nightmare scenario.
When you’re in a crowded business market, it’s so important to find an ownable and authentic voice that feels right to you, and feels good to your target audience. It’s the main reason we start all of our own Lexicontent client projects off with an Emotional Targeting Workbook, since each and every workbook begins with identifying emotional triggers that are associated with you, your brand, and its content.
Although the products you sell might be the same or similar – think Nike and Adidas – finding your voice is what differentiates the way you do things, leaving a strong impression that creates an irresistible emotional connection in the mind of your customer.
When they can recognize your voice before anyone else’s in a crowded room, they know what you stand for without having to measure you up against the competition every time they go to click 'buy'. Thus, your voice becomes less about sounding good, and more about serving as a shortcut that helps customers make easy decisions and habitual purchases without a whole lot of time or effort involved.
But what do you do when your voice feels locked out?
When your content has no voice, start with your rallying cry.
I once worked with a health brand that asked me to help it find its voice. It was a challenge, given the number of fitness brands in the marketplace, but a challenge I loved because I felt deeply moved and motivated by the people that made up the brand, people that were so intent on changing lives.
So I began with a rallying cry, a soulful statement that they came to love so much, they had it painted on the walls of their new location for all their customers to see the moment they stepped foot in the brand’s space.
The rallying cry was a series of ideological statements about what the brand did – and did not – stand for. It cut to the heart of its audience, defining who it served. It got real about what 'change' meant (more birthdays! smaller pants sizes!). And it served as a thread that united both fitness novices and experts, first-timers and for-lifers.
As soon as I read the brand’s rallying cry aloud, it became the drumbeat that bonded team members to customers and customers to the brand. (Sidenote: The term rallying “cry” became literal, as one founding team member burst into tears the moment I finished reading it aloud.) But the act of writing the rallying cry FIRST and foremost before touching any other piece of content is what allowed me to write with a certain kind of proprietary intensity that trickled into the rest of the brand’s content.
The brand was born naked. But their rallying cry soon became their coat of armor.
The rallying cry didn't come overnight, however. I jotted down words and phrases that were said in passing. I watched videos of the brand’s owner being interviewed by the local news and picked up on her vocabulary. I observed how team members jibed and teased one another. And, because I’m a BIG believer in immersion when it comes to branding, I even attended a full (killer!) hourlong workout to get the full effect of what the brand offered its customers, and how its trainers spoke to said customers to keep them motivated and hungry for more.
In the end, the words and phrases that ended up on that wall didn’t come from me. I didn’t write a rallying cry that they could fit into.
Rather, I created the rallying cry as a natural extension of what the brand stood for by observing the natural tone, flow, and personality of what already existed.
That’s what a brand voice is all about, anyway.
The people who make up a brand and represent it are the people who make up the voice, the conversation, and ultimately the content about it.
No one else can force their pants to fit your brand’s voice. You’ve got to create pants that fit – and feel right – to you.
Ready to build your own custom-fit rallying cry? Fill out the form below to unlock an exclusive freebie worksheet that’ll get you thinking about the words, phrase, and messages that set the tone for the voice of your brand.
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