Fran Drescher. Christopher Walken. James Earl Jones.
Some people just have immediately recognizable voices. When James announces, “This is CNN,” it doesn’t matter that you can’t see his face…you know it’s him.
That’s something we should all be clawing at for our online businesses. To be able to speak anywhere, on any website – or even IRL! – without your logo or brand colors, and still have people know it’s you?
That’s the ultimate branding feat, and I’m gonna help you “feat” it. ?
I’ve had to figure out how to use my words to create entire personalities for other companies, to define a voice for an entire business. And those voices needed to be defined so clearly that literally any marketer at the company could go and write content that sounded “like us.”
My secret weapon for making a brand’s voice as strong, loud, and recognizable as it can be? Building a brand voice bible with sections like these:
Define your brand words and exclamations
Let’s start with the basics. The “verbal” equivalent of your brand’s main fonts and colors. I’m talking about your catchphrases.
You should set a few words, phrases, and exclamations to claim as “yours.” Think Joey Gladstone’s “Cut. It. Out.” or Michelle Tanner’s “You got it, dude.”
Don’t overthink it, just pick some of your favorite words or your audience’s, and commit to using them regularly. The point here isn’t to find words nobody has ever said before, just to give yourself messaging to consistently add personality to your brand.
Create a “say this instead” list
Now here is where you focus on standing out, on adding some spice or some “you” to your brand.
You know those phrases that are really awesome, but then get used so much that they become…less awesome? I’m thinking specifically about buzzword-type phrases that even plagues us creatives, phrases like “heart-centered,” “copy that converts,” and stuff like that.
They’re powerful phrases, but they’re not unique. So make a list of all the popular, buzzword-y phrases in your industry. Then next to each phrase, come up with a more “you” phrase to say instead.
For example, I purposely stopped saying “high quality content” last year. I replaced it with “unicorn content,” and now that term is so associated with my brand that people even think it’s my company name!
Another example is Mariah Coz’s method of building relationships. “Network hacking” is on-brand and unique, where “networking” has a bad rap that makes you think of bad suits, gross apps, and drafty hotel banquet rooms.
Set brand emojis and gifs
Whether you like it or not (I personally love it), emojis and gifs are officially part of modern communication. They’re fair game here, too.
So determine a few favorite emojis that really capture the “essence” of your brand, and use them regularly. Same goes for gifs, or types of gifs.
For example, TV is a big part of my brand, so my reaction gifs are always from my favorite shows instead of choosing gifs from movies or random peeps on the internet. And sure enough, people remember me and my brand for that.
Taking tiny steps like these may seem silly, but they’re really unicorn gallops. This voice will be what separates your advice and thought leadership from another influencer’s. Don’t hide your voice and write like the rest – because if you’re going to build a unicorn brand, you’ve gotta flaunt your colorful horn and rainbow tail.