Establishing a Voice for a Brand


(originally a conversation I had via my G+ presence in the Social Media Professsionals Community that I founded, I also posted it at Protosocial to see how it would rank with the new Quora Blogging platform)

Establishing a Voice for a Brand
a high-level approach

Just  thought I’d journal/share with you all something that I’m doing today  for one of my clients. My client is about to initiate a web series that  is something like a reality TV show and is driven by a large social  media campaign. As you might imagine, the idea of simply asking  questions like – “What did you think of last week’s episode? Comment  now!” was not appetizing to me – and so I’m crafting a Voice  Attributions Concept sheet right now.

I have the luxury of creating a brand voice from the very beginning – meaning that I am not  limited by branding guidelines or working within a pre-established  ‘voice’. However, this does mean that I’ll be doing a lot of guess work,  so I’ll have to try to gather as much information that I can about my  potential audience and also work to not isolate an audience type that  may manifest outside of my original vision. After I gather this data,  I’ll be able to bring in my creative side.

The first thing I’m  doing is gathering information on the brand’s demographic so I knew what  sort of people I would be talking to and whether or not I could craft  the voice with those people in mind. Now, these folks are in X industry,  making around $Y in revenue and are ages A-D. I want the messaging of  the campaign to be able to speak to people outside of that range as  well, so I’ll have to make sure that the way I’m speaking will not  alienate an audience that doesn’t quite fit in with the info I’m able to  gather (ex: I’ll try to avoid a voice that relies heavily on esoteric  dialectal content).

After I think I comfortably understand my  demographic – I’ll review all of the branding information I do have -  taking into account what Creative is doing (display ads, the actual  videos, the people in the videos etc.) so that I’ll be able to establish  a brand consistency, even though the ‘voice’ hasn’t been established -  attributes are ready for me to work with – now I get to shape it.

Then,  I’ll be hitting the “Interwebz” for some creative inspiration – I’ll look  to brands that are doing similar things, analyze whether or not I like  certain activities, messaging, whether or not that’s appropriate for my  client — see what is working for them, what doesn’t work for them. I’ll  be visiting their social properties and seeing what kind of responses  their messaging illicits from their audience. I’ll take the kind of  messaging I want to see, that aligns with my client’s goals, and adopt  certain aspects of that messaging and then I’ll skin it with my ‘voice’.

To  create the ‘voice’, I’ll then take to finding a couple of sources from  which I can draw the actual language attributes, the emotion, the feel,  the ‘tempo’ and shape. I’ll be able to find quirks and bumps,  character.  I want to create a familiarity. For my client for example,  the voice is going to be tinged w/ frank candor, bluntness, without the  frills of academic or pompous language. It will be powerful, and  determined. I’ll draw inspiration from voices like Tom Waits, Ernest  Hemingway and Johnny Cash.

And then I get to write, I’ll write a  conversation out – some sort of short story for myself so I can get  into the skin of the new voice. Then, I’ll be able to create my Voice  Attributions Concept sheet – a few examples of how a  post might look on  our chosen social properties – then we’ll send it around to make sure  it works with what else we’re trying to do for the client – and then  we’ll send it off to the client for consideration!

I certainly hope this was interesting for you all. What’s your process?

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