“Everyone has a story.” We’ve all heard that before and can easily relate to the truth of the statement. As we go through life there are countless events that shape who we are – our childhood memories of baseball practice and speeding down hills on our bikes, high school graduation and freshmen year of college, our first job and our first home, walking the center aisle and hearing the first cry of your first child…and of course, there are the difficult moments of failure and loss. All of these events interconnect in unique and unpredictable ways to form our story. They make us who we are.
Well, the same is true for a business. There is always a unique story that has been formed by what you’ve survived and how you’ve excelled, by what gets you excited and drives you to make each next day more successful than the last.
We’ve talked about the importance of knowing and telling your story in past articles, but you can’t just tell your story any old way – it has to be told in your company’s voice.
What is a Company’s Voice?
So, you have your story and now you need to communicate it…this is where your company’s voice takes over. A company’s voice will be communicated literally through the written word (think social media, press releases, web, print, and interviews) and figuratively through what you do (or don’t do).
Everything your company does communicates something to your market whether you realize it or not.
- The quality of people you hire and the way you treat them
- The level of customer service you provide
- The packaging of your product
- Where you invest your time and how you give of your resources
- Your involvement in the community
Each of these speaks volumes about your company’s values and sends a message to your market.
How do You Find Your Company’s Voice?
This may seem a bit off-kilter but a great way to establish your voice is to think of your company as a person and ask a few questions:
- What would he look like and talk like?
- What activities would she enjoy and what causes would she be passionate about?
- Are you serious, comical, energetic, relational?
- Who would he hang out with and what would he do on the weekends?
This can be a very helpful exercise as you seek to establish your company’s voice.
As I’ve said, your story and your voice are fully connected, so the more familiar you are with your story the easier it will be to find your voice. Here’s a few questions to get you started down the right path:
- As a business owner, what has shaped you and gotten you where you are today?
- Why did you start your business?
- How do you want your product or service to make people feel?
- What do you want your clients to think about your company?
- How do you want your company to be viewed by your community?
Answering these questions will begin to shape your voice and will help identify why you do what you do and what’s most important to your company. Ultimately, your voice should extend and personalize your brand.
What Should Your Company’s Voice Do?
Your voice connects you to your market, so it’s important to use it properly. A well-defined voice will be authentic, trustworthy, consistent, and clear.
- Authentic – Your voice should above all be authentic, which means it can’t be copied from someone else. It has to come from deep inside of you and be connected to what you’re passionate about. It’s your story, your vision, the fire in your belly, and no one else’s.
- Trustworthy –Your voice must build trust. Our world is full of deceit and when a company speaks honestly and truthfully about their services and goals, it’s refreshing. The difficult part about trust is it takes a long time to establish and a short time to lose.
- Consistent – Your voice needs to be used consistently across all of your marketing. If you have multiple people in your office developing content or if you use a company such as M&R to write content for you, everyone must have a great handle on who you are and what your voice sounds like. Whether you are writing for social media or a corporate catalog, your voice needs to shine through.
- Clear – You can drop the jargon and intellectual over-talking. Be real and be clear and you’ll find that your clients will quickly relate to you and want to join in on the conversation.
Maintaining these four things can’t be manufactured. They have to come from a place of integrity and passion.
KIND Healthy Snacks
One company that understands its voice well is KIND Healthy Snacks. As the fastest growing purveyor of healthy snacks, KIND’s website and social media is as much about KINDness as it is about their healthy snacks. Their vision is to “do the kind things for your body, your taste buds & your world” and their brand focus is on their consumers, allowing them to share the KIND story.
They’ve established the KIND Movement, which believes “the easier we make it for our community to surprise others with unexpected acts of kindness, the kinder our world will become…from writing a letter to someone who inspired you to planting thousands of trees to simply taking the time to say ‘thank you.’” The KIND Movement has inspired over 1 million kind deeds and all of them are shared and tallied by the brand – that is a lot of market interaction.
Each month, KIND supports an individual or organization seeking to make the world a KINDer place by donating $10,000 to their cause. The winners are voted on by the KIND community, but they can only cast a vote by completing a kind act themselves.
KIND’s voice is centered on improving the communities in which their customers live and they just happen to make great tasting, healthy snacks that are incredibly popular. They have a dedicated community who not only loves their food but also gets behind their message. This is the truest sign of an authentic, trustworthy, consistent, and clear voice.
Did You Find It?
Finding your voice will take some effort, but it is truly one of the most important things you can do for the life of your company, no matter the industry. It doesn’t matter if you sell tires or life insurance, provide legal services or rental cars, there is a story to be told and a voice to communicate it. The process will be very revealing and is a great exercise for your entire team – I’m excited to see your results.
Tell us your story at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll help you share it.