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EPISODE 4: How to Capture Your Unique Voice

by Oct 6, 2020Podcast

In this episode we will cover:

  • Why is it important to “capture” your voice.
  • How does having a consistent voice help your bottom line? 
  • What components of your voice are necessary to capture? 
  • Why a human connection matters
  • Actionable steps for defining your brand voice.

In recent episodes, we’ve talked about how capturing your brand voice is a vital part of an effective messaging strategy.  Today, we look at HOW to do it. After all, you want your brand to be recognizable above the myriad of other “voices” out there. 

So how do you get started? We’ll discuss some simple, actionable steps for defining (or refining) your brand voice so you can have an authentic connection with your audience. 

 

You’ll want to get a pen and notebook out as we look at: 

  • Why it’s important to “capture” your voice
  • How having a consistent voice helps your bottom line
  • What components of your voice are necessary to capture
  • Why a human connection matters

TRANSCRIPT

Jessi:
Welcome to the Brand Your Voice Podcast, where we're digging into how you can create personality driven content that connects and converts I'm Jessi.

Marie:
And I'm Marie we're the co-founders of North Star Messaging and Strategy where we support business owners and outsourcing content without sacrificing authenticity.

Jessi:
Every brand has a unique voice that sets it apart. We're digging into how to capture the way your brand communicates from the words you use to the stories you tell. So you can create more compelling content that strategically helps you meet your business goals.

Marie:
And if you choose to outsource that content, you'll be able to do so with confidence, knowing your brand voice is in good hands and you can reclaim your time. We're so glad you're here and hope you enjoy this episode. Hi there. And welcome to episode four of the Brand Your Voice Podcast. Today, we're going to be talking about how to capture your unique voice. And this is something that we hear so much from CEOs and entrepreneurs, and really the face of the brand where they're saying I really want to not always necessarily be in the content, but no one else can get in my head. No one else can know my stories or know my language. And you also see this with people who they're not necessarily ready to outsource, but they feel like they don't really know what the unique voice of their brand is. And they need a little help figuring that out.

Jessi:
Absolutely. And so it's important for you to create this consistent voice, especially because content is everywhere in your business. It's often thought of as your blog posts or your social media posts, but it's really in more places than that. It's anywhere that you're creating content. So even something as small as a Facebook message to someone who has some questions, something like that, or a quick email exchange with customer service, those are pieces of content because they're pieces of communication that are helping to convey your voice. And people will notice if there's inconsistencies and that ends up becoming problematic when, for example, you might be putting forth one type of voice through all your content, and then someone actually starts working with you and it feels completely different. It almost feels like a bait and switch. And of course, no one wants to do that. And it may be unintentional and it also may lead to some confused potential clients.

Marie:
Exactly. One of the things that Jessi and I say all the time is you have a message in your business, whether you realize it or not, whether you've put thought into it or not, and it's not just about the words on your homepage or the words that you put in your social media posts or what comes out of your mouth in a YouTube video or a stage appearance. It's also how you behave. It's how you treat your customers. It's baked into your give back policy, your refund, everything, right? The way your contracts work, everything about your company says a message. And if you want to have a unified message, a great place to start with that is a unified voice. So when you're able to unify the voice of your content, even if you're outsourcing some of it, or if you're not, it just means that there's more cohesion there.
Again, you're not surprising people when they talk with you and you have the authentic human connection with your audience. No matter how your content goes out and what capacity in what channel or how they're interacting with you. So our challenge to you today, if it is safe for you to do so, please don't do this if you're driving, grab a notebook, follow along as we go over the different pieces of your voice, we're going to be giving you extremely actionable steps here for you to take a look at the five different components of your unique voice. And as you write down these five categories, start brainstorming, go ahead and get to work. You're going to already start with the end of this podcast episode with a headstart on your brand voice.

Jessi:
Yeah. And before we dive into the five parts real quickly, I just want to mention this process is valuable, whether you are a personal brand or you're the face of the brand, or if you run a slightly larger company where you have a team and there may be multiple people who are creating the content, delivering products or services, in both cases, you can develop a brand voice. One in this case of a personal brand may be closer to your natural voice. Whereas a brand that has more people involved in it may be a slightly different voice from your own natural voice. In both cases, these five components are essential to creating consistency among all of the content, whether you are the person creating content, you're outsourcing it to a single writer, or you have a team who's responsible for pieces of content and for being the face of multiple pieces of content.

Marie:
Yes. Great point, Jessi.

Jessi:
So, let's dive right in with the very first component of your voice. And that is going to be the words that you use, and we call it your word bank and it may sound straightforward, but it's one of those things that we do naturally using certain words and certain pieces of conversation. And we very rarely record. We very rarely make a list of, here are the words that I use in these situations. Here are the words that are inherently me or inherently my brand. And when you start the process of recording those words, that's when you start getting your brand voice out of your head and onto paper or onto a screen so that it can be outsourced. So when we're looking at words, we're looking at a couple of different types of words, we're looking at adjectives. How do you describe things? What are the ways that you would describe your service, or your product? We're looking at the verbs that you use. We're looking at the words that may be unique to the region that you live in. I live in the Bay area of California right now. And so everything is hella something. And so that is everything's hella. And that would be the word that if I were building my own personal brand and my own personal word bank would probably end up in that word bank because it's part of my vernacular. And it's part of the vernacular that I use when talking about things within the context of the brand.

Marie:
She's assimilated you guys.

Jessi:
Slowly but surely.

Marie:
Exactly. I love that you put in the regional thing too, right? Because some people it's really a big facet of their brand that maybe it's an Australian based brand or it's a UK based brand or wherever. And so it may make sense to actually kind of play up some of that language. Next is very similar, it's your phrase bank. So sometimes it's not just y'all and pop by the way she's from the Midwest, so pop is one of her words, y'all would be mine being from the South. Sometimes it's fixing too, that's me. Right. And it's not just about regionalisms. It's also about, for instance we like to say target audience. That's one of the phrases that we use, or your content pillars, right?
We haven't necessarily invented these phrases out of thin air. Sometimes there are phrases that our clients, or we, have used that are inventions by us. And that's fine too. These don't have to be words that you find in Webster's. These can be words and phrases that you've coined, but yeah, when you have something that's two or more words that's a phrase. So go ahead and put it down there. It can also just be those things where you say something like you know, or maybe you say, okay, a lot, things like that. Those can absolutely go in.

Jessi:
Yeah. And this is the sort of thing that you can really dig into when you listen to yourself. So that's going to be part of the homework that we assign is to listen to yourself talk, because you may not think of these off the top of your head. I don't sit there and think what words am I using? Every single time I have a conversation with someone, but there's opportunities to listen back or to ask other people. I said, the phrase dig into just a couple of seconds ago. And that is something that would be in our word bank because it's something we use all the time. It's not anything that is unique to, we are a company that writes content and helps people strategize around content.
It's something that's unique to the way that we talk about what we do. So it doesn't have to be specific to your industry either. It can be. My only caution there with words or phrases would be to avoid going too deep into jargon. I know a lot of industries love their acronyms. I used to be a teacher and it's just jargon every day. And so making sure that the words and phrases that end up in your word and phrase bank are really true to who you are and to the brand you want to represent and the feeling that you want to represent without necessarily being confusing.

Marie:
Yeah. And I'd say too, if you find that there are some complex ideas, pieces of jargon, acronyms, things like that, that you do use quite frequently, but maybe they're only a better fit for somebody who's now deep into your program or your teaching. And now they have the background information to understand all of that, but maybe just fresh off the street as a lay person, they don't, you could always kind of put a little asterisk by that and your word or phrase bank and say, this is for my more advanced audience members.

Jessi:
Yeah. And just to give you a real quick example, before we go onto the third piece of brand voice, just so you can kind of see it in action, and how it might work on one brand voice versus another brand voice. Let's say that something that you talk about frequently with your clients is, or with your potential clients and your audience is how you take them from point A to point B. It's a very typical thing that we talk about. You started here, we're going to take you there. One brand may say something along the lines of, we're going to empower you to go from point A to point B. And that may be a brand where the voice is very much around that sort of high energy, empowering language.
Another brand may say something like we're going to guide you from point A to point B. And that brand may have a voice more around a nurturing journey where they're going to hold your hand and take you on this journey. And a simple flip of the word empower versus the word guide, changes the tone and changes the voice of the brand. So these are the types of words and phrases that you want to pay attention to and jot down on the word bank and the phrase bank, as you're thinking through how you communicate to your audience.

Marie:
Absolutely. So then this brings us to the third aspect of capturing your unique voice, which is being aware of your avoiders. So this is the opposite, the flip side of your word bank and your phrase bank. These are the words and phrases you actively avoid. Best used when you can say here's the alternative, here's why, because usually when somebody avoids a word or phrase there's a reason behind it, maybe it indicates a values [inaudible 00:11:25] like conflict. Maybe that's a word that people who aren't in their target audience use a lot. So, for instance, let's say that you're a business strategist and you really only kind of work with like, left-brained type A people.
You may decide I'm going to avoid using words like manifest in my copy or any kind of like woo woo quote unquote terminology, because you've discovered that that brings in people who are not an excellent fit for your services or your company. So you could say let's not use the word manifest, but maybe we could use the word achieve instead, for instance. Right. So there's an example of like, it's not just about don't use this, but instead use that. So, for us, we don't like to talk about ideal client avatars because we have seen that framework, really paralyze people into thinking that they have to really go after women aged 25 to 35 named Betty with a size six shoe. And that's paralyzing, and so instead in our brand voice guide for North Star, we talk about target audience because yeah, that Betty person might be at the center of the target, but if you're heading toward the outer rings, you're still getting points. So, there's sort of different circles of people that you want to influence, and those are within the target audience. So, that's just an example of that in action.

Jessi:
Yeah, absolutely. And that's something helpful to write down as you're writing down the words to avoid what to use instead, that why piece is also important, especially if you're handing the content off. If you're doing it on your own, it may not be as vital. But if you ever plan on handing your content off, and I would argue that you should always prepare too, because you never know what might happen. You may not be ready to now, but you may change your mind in the future. It's important to know that why. Why don't you use this phrase? Why? Because going back to Marie's example about manifest that may not fit a brand, but another brand may have the exact opposite on their brand voice. They may say, avoid the word achieve, and instead use the word manifest because that fits my brand and that fits my audience. So, it's important to have that why there, so that there's context around the words and the phrases to use and not to use.

Marie:
Yeah. And a side note here, this can actually make some really great content for you to talk about your avoiders and why you avoid them.

Jessi:
Yeah, absolutely. So next one. So we have your word bank, your phrase bank, your avoiders. Now we're going to go away from individual words and phrases and talk a little bit more about your voice as a whole and how it comes across. So the fourth piece is your cadence. And cadence is essentially the rhythm of your content. It's the way in which your sentences are structured, so that when someone, for example, reads it out loud, they fall into a certain pattern or a rhythm of speech. Essentially, do you use short sentences? Do you use long sentences? Do you use a lot of parentheses or ellipses and asides? What is the flow of your content?

Marie:
Exactly. You can think of it like music and it's totally okay, too, if you want to intermingle those, right. It's not like you have to be all the way on the short sentence side or all the way on the long sentence side. In fact, it can be more powerful for your language to mix them, but if you find yourself using punchier language, okay, great, you're kind of more on that side of the scale. So, just take note. The final piece of capturing your unique voice is being aware of your tone. And this really gets down to the feelings and emotions that you want to convey. So some people might have a little bit of a empowering tone, like Jessi was talking about earlier. They're really upbeat. They're there to really kind of pump you up and make you feel like, "Hey, I can conquer the world."
And maybe some people have more of a nurturing tone where they're really wanting you to feel taken care of, heard, seen, understood. That's maybe going to match the brand a little bit more. Or some people may want to ignite the creativity within their reader, and really make them think about things in a new way. Someone else may want to teach and have someone come to a new realization and feel like they're thinking about something in a new way, not because they're inspired, but because it's been explained to them.
And finally you might want your brand voice to have a tone that is really empowering them to understand the depth of a concept, because you've really laid out an excellent framework for them, or really helps them see what is the step by step? What is the depth of this topic? If you're trying to figure out which one of those is right for you, we encourage you to take our copyrighting character quiz, which will help you really nail which one of these is a very natural for your brand's voice. Nobody is limited to one of these, probably most people and most brands are a hybrid between them, but this can really give you a nice headstart. It can tell you which of those five examples that I just gave you is best fit for your brand and how you can start to leverage it.

Jessi:
Yeah. So, each of those tones, each of those personalities that we put into the copywriting character quiz, and that allows your content to really take on this life of its own and build these relationships, just kind of the quick breakdown of which character you might be, the rebel, the artist, the nurturer, the scholar, or the architect, each falls into those descriptions that Marie just gave. And like she said, you may be more than one, but odds are there's one that you lead with. There's one that you naturally lean on and start with, even if other characters come into play. So, our challenge to you is to take a look at these five different areas of brand voice, your word bank, your phrase bank, your avoiders, your cadence and your tone. And if you haven't already start jotting down, what you think might fall into each of these areas, when you get to tone, go ahead and take the copywriting character quiz and see where you fall.
And then if you're struggling, if you're not sure where to start, I mentioned earlier that listening to yourself as a really good way to do this. So, you have prior voice recordings, especially if you're talking a little off the cuff, maybe you did an interview or something like that. Listen back to that. See what words and phrases show up, see what energy shows up and you can add to your word bank and your phrase bank based on that. Or if you don't have any recordings, you can either record yourself talking, or you can sit down with a friend and have them interview. You have them ask you questions about your business, record the conversation, listen back, and start creating your own voice that is documented.

Marie:
Exactly. So have fun with that. And if you're looking for the copywriting character quiz link, it's just northstarmessaging.com/character.

Jessi:
Thank you so much.

Marie:
Thanks for joining us for this episode of the Brand Your Voice Podcast. Make sure to visit our website northstarmessaging.com, where you can subscribe to the show on iTunes, Spotify, and more.

Jessi:
If you found value in this episode, we'd love for you to leave us a review on iTunes and share it with your friends. Thank you and happy content, creating.

For additional content strategy and branding tips, check out northstarmessaging.com/blog. Also, please tag us on Instagram and let us know you’re out there! @northstarmessaging 


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