Voicing Your Brand, Branding Your Voice

Years ago I got paid to do some blurb-writing for Groupon. In spite of having authored a book, managed a newspaper, and directed publications for the National Endowment for Democracy—the Nicaraguan ambassador once greeted me like royalty because he thought I was with Dick Armitage—I have to admit I’m rather proud of my Groupon small potatoes. Groupon blurbs are funny to a large subset of the population. That includes me.

It’s not just the farcical humor of Groupon that appeals to me. It’s also how consistent they are in delivering it. Mask out all the identifying information around a Groupon blurb, and I could still tell you it was the handiwork of Groupon writers. Their voice is different enough and has been wielded with such consistency that it has become an integral part of their brand.

In business-to-consumer writing, your voice is supposed to become one with your brand.. Readers should be able to recognize and expect it when they tune into the vehicle you’re using for it (e.g., your website). Part of making that happen is knowing how the heck to define your voice. This is how multiple copywriters can wield it without sounding like, well, multiple writers. One brand, one voice!

Did you know that Groupon has a recipe to help its blurb-writers nail their voice? It was put to me something like this: You’re a college professor who speaks with authoritative confidence but actually gets his information absurdly wrong. I was encouraged to pen fake proverbs, history, and adages. Go big with the nonsense, they advised. Make sweeping errors of logic. These people really knew their voice. When I sat down to write for them, I was totally clear who I was channeling and how.

Have you found your voice? Do you really know it?nutty-professor

Good writers can help your business find its own unique voice to build your brand. They can define an imaginary muse that gives your brand character, like that raving-mad professor Groupon wields. But it takes time and a willingness on your part to let their creativity flow and see what works. Then it takes time to cement that voice so that people come to expect it from your business.  Just remember this: Brands that stand out often have voices that stand out, too.