Voice: The new – and mandatory – brand component

by Kate Brodock on 19 June 2010

Posted in: Social Media,Straight Marketing

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Conversation
Response
Bi-Directional
Engage

We’ve heard them all.  Social media marketing requires us to think seriously about these aspects of our marketing campaigns.  You must engage in bi-directional conversation and respond to your audience and engage with them when they reach out to you.  With a focus on conversation and valuable content, brands literally must talk to their customers, both in private and in public.

These concepts are new anymore.  Are we taking them seriously enough? But WE’RE NOT TAKING THEM SERIOUSLY ENOUGH.

The Voice needs to become an integral and crucial part of your brand strategy. It is….your Voice Brand.

Yes, that’s capitalized for a reason.  It should be an” official” part of your brand.  A line item in your short list of brand elements.  Like your Logo or your Tagline.  Something you sit down and have brand meetings about.

How is your Voice expressed? Much of the time in new marketing it’s through content.  Valuable content.  That content is what starts the conversations we’re talking about, the ones you need.

How you communicate through this content – your Voice – is something that needs to be very well thought out, not just in terms of your social media strategy, but also in terms of your core branding strategy.

Aside from asking yourself how you want to “sound,” you have to also be asking yourself who you want to start conversations with, and what you want to have conversations about.  These are the same types of questions you’ve been asking about your brand for years – what types of people do you want be aware of your brand, and what do you want them to do with that awareness.

Where the traditional type of marketing, made up in large part of push marketing, relied on getting your logo or some other recognizable brand element in front of eyes (think billboard, magazine ad, TV commercial), new marketing suggests that the relationship people make with your brand is through conversation and engagement with the brand beyond simply a recognition.

I don’t mean to suggest that the traditional elements of your brand are less important.  That’s not the case at all.  But it’s kind of like trying to find a date in bar – your trendy shirt and fresh haircut only take you so far.  You’ve really got to nail the “Hi my name is” part to stand a chance.  And cheesy pick up lines can also only take you so far…. so you better put some thought and emotion into it.

Visualization vs Readability

In a recent Six Pixels of Separation Episode (Episode #207, Media Hacks #31, 20 June, minute 38:20 or so…..and you should definitely listen to the rest of the podcast as the whole conversation is full of good stuff), Mitch Joel talks about brands creating content for readability:

“…..in a lot of instances, most people didn’t design so that the consumers could consume the primary force of content, they’ve actually designed it so it would look good and attractive so that they could give it a level of credibility that might incite an advertiser to buy a banner ad, and I think that that is the real dichotomy of marketing….we’re trying to design really nice websites, and a lot of the time I look and I do say to myself, “Is this simple enough?” and part of the reason I think [Twist Image] gets accolades for the design of the Six Pixel blog is because the focus for me when looking at it has always been….please make the reading as easy and seamless for the consumer as possible so they can read it quickly and comment effectively and that it not be too complex….and what I find is that, all too often, as designers, we design with the complexity of the visualization in mind versus the simplicity of making it more readable….they are completely selfish …not embracing the reader’s need to get to the content in a fast, simple and clean way.”

This highlights a number of really important points about the concept of a Voice Brand.

  • Again, it’s not just about how you LOOK.  You have to make sure that your content can be consumed easily and can be interacted with appropriately for it to make a real impression on your audience.  If you can do that and make it look nice, icing on the cake.
  • If you’re trying to cater towards advertisers, you’re probably missing the point.  If you haven’t solved the problem of making your content easy to access, you won’t have an audience to woo advertisers with regardless.  Google knows this.  If they didn’t make their experience what it is for the users, it wouldn’t be nearly as valuable for the advertisers, and the way they do that is they cater almost 100% towards the needs of those users.
  • It’s a constant revisiting of your content.  Mitch mentions that he continually tells himself that.  I’d bet he does it with close to every piece of content he puts out (yes, it’s probably at the point now where he doesn’t need to put a lot of effort into this thought process, but he still likely does it on some level).

Develop your Voice Brand for the New Marketing Landscape

Thinking about how marketing concepts are shifting doesn’t mean that the foundations of marketing don’t apply.  Your brand is still your brand, and it’s still incredibly important.  But it’s taking a new form, and requiring new elements to be effective.  Wherever and however you’re reaching your audience means that brand elements  are and should be present, so be sure you’re thinking about the right ones.

Don’t miss the opportunity to create a strong brand that fits today’s marketplace.

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