I participated in a client workshop on “brand voice” today. Despite being in the marketing business, I must admit to being something of a skeptic when it comes to the topic of voice.
After today’s session, I realize that my skepticism is a direct reflection of the rather superficial way in which I have treated the topic – namely that it consists of no more than defining a list of the attributes that should characterize the tone of a company’s communications. For some reason, whatever the brand, the lists I generated always included “optimistic” and “human”…
As a result of today’s workshop, I have a new appreciation for the science (and art) of defining the “how we communicate” in such a way that it magnifies the “what we communicate.” It seems to me that there is enormous potential to create a self-reinforcing dynamic between the content, tonality and visual style of a brand.
Alexander Pope famously captured this idea in his phrase “what oft was said, but ne’er so well expressed.” What I take this to mean is that because of the incredible sensitivity of the human ear, eye, and brain’s to subtle variations in tone, shade and message, differentiation may be achieved as much by how something is said as by what is said.
This is a profoundly exciting thought. B2B marketers exist in a universe where most competitors can – and do – say pretty much the same thing. This suggests that the secret to differentiation may lie as much in the creation of a distinctive voice and visual style as it does in a distinctive message.