I can't tell you how happy I am to welcome Ilina from Dirt & Noise. Okay, I can tell you. She's one of my IRL buddies and we share both a huge love of marketing and a disdain for Lunchables. She's also not afraid to blog in her true (and sometimes opinionated) voice. Today she guides you through defining your own voice.
We all have a voice. An indoor voice. A library voice. A stadium voice. A mom voice. A phone voice. A come hither voice. A don’t-mess-with-me voice. We use our voices to tell a story, tug at heartstrings, advocate for a cause, stand up to bullies, cheer a friend, garner support, make a difference. We use our voices everyday. Online. Offline.
But do you ever think about what your voice tells the world?
Your voice is part of your brand. The way you speak, the way you write, the way you sound to others. Your voice defines you, be it Demi Moore’s gravely sexy tones or Fran Drescher’s nasally guffaws. Ditto for blogs and websites like the irreverent Go Fug Yourself and the über fashionable yet haughty Vogue. Each brand has its own discrete voice. A voice, coupled with content and visual identity (i.e. logo, header, color scheme, etc.), create a brand.
Part of your voice is your message. What do you impart to your readers? Where do you take a stand? I often write about controversial issues, be it politics or Lunchables. Oddly enough, one of the posts that inspired the most heated comments was about grilled cheese. Go figure. I write about topics that amuse me or are important to me, and I can admittedly be opinionated, if not snarky at times. I am nothing if not passionate and committed to causes that move me. I’m all for open dialogue and communication. It’s not important that my readers agree with me all the time. I’d rather know I’ve taken a position and written about it with a balance of fact and compassion. I wouldn’t be true to myself if I only wrote about “safe” topics and never injected a healthy dose of opinion into my posts.
It’s hard to be all things to all people, and in the end, your voice is diluted, wishy-washy even, if you try to please everyone. Instead, think about what you say as part of your own brand identity.
Too often we pay painstaking attention to our visual identity, or worse, think a logo is a brand, and don’t pay attention to our voice. I say take a moment to sit back and focus on the tone of your writing and the message behind your posts. Tone, word choice, colorful language — they all contribute to your voice.
Are you funny, snarky, homespun, bold, quirky, irreverent, self aggrandizing, witty, erudite, straight forward, flowery? Do you channel a sailor time to time or do you stick to clean Sunday school language?
Think about how your voice is reflected in your visual identity too. A whimiscal logo and serious, dry writing style don’t jive. Likewise a dark, staid, bare bones site and cheeky writing style don’t complement each other.
Your brand is not just a logo. Your brand is how your audience experiences you.
- Determine what your voice is. Look back at old posts, ask your readers, friends, family, do some introspection. Figure out just what voice truly reflects your passion, energy, and appeal.
- Make sure your voice is original, unique, and genuine. It’s much harder to fit into someone else’s shoes rather than wear the cowboy boots you broke in yourself. Forgive the shoe metaphor; if shoes aren’t on my feet they’re on my mind. And I happen to love my cowboy boots.
- Be consistent. I don’t mean you must always be funny or crass or academic or (insert tone here). But ensure that each post and each way you communicate reflects you. Whether I write about something serious, like teen age boys and cars, or something fun, like cocktails, it’s pretty easy to spot my voice. For starters, I pretty much write the way I talk. It’s not something I consciously do. That’s my natural writing style, for better or for worse.
- Integrate. Your voice, whether speaking at a conference or writing content online, should reflect your brand. This doesn’t mean you can’t be both lively and serious. What we say and how we say it matter. Be colorful. Be smart. Be you.
Find your voice. Use your voice. Embrace your voice.
Ilina Ewen is a writer and seasoned marketing consultant with over 20 years (gasp!) of experience in branding, communications, advertising, and consumer research. Ilina is also known as “Mommy” to two sons, affectionately called Bird and Deal. She blogs about her musings and rants at Dirt & Noise (home of the weekly feature 5:00 Fridays, where you can find an original cocktail recipe and the story that inspired it). Ilina contributes to various blogs, including TypeAParent, Foodie Mama, Technorati and WRAL's GoAskMom. When she has a moment to breathe, you'll find Ilina building LEGO masterpieces, spoiling her dog, reading everything from her favorite childhood classics to non-fiction, or tweaking her book proposal that she’s too nervous to actually finish and pitch.
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Hey- I'm Melissa! I'm a mom, side hustler, online course instructor, and brand marketer. I run a 6-figure blog helping online biz owners find their a-ha moments with can-do tips, tutorials, and online courses. I also work at Burt's Bees as the Social Media Strategist (yep, it's as cool as it sounds). Jump start your biz productivity with my free worksheet!