This post was originally written by Lisa Thompson.
Lisa: People tell me I’m loud. All the bloody time. The distinctive quality of my voice is, I sound like a foghorn. Sexy.
Josh: You brought sexy back before JT did, Lisa, that’s nothing to be ashamed about.
Lisa: Me, my foghorn voice and my new hip replacement—the very definition of hawt. But really, we want to talk about brand voice, not my voice. You might think, “Wait, what? I thought voice was an audible thing. Brands don’t talk. How do they have a voice?” That’s a legit question—let us explain. Because for us, “brand voice” is not a buzzword; it’s our money-maker, and we shake it erryday.
Brand voice: The strategic and consistent expression of a brand through words and writing style that engages, motivates and educates.
Josh: Brand voice is essential to any brand no matter what size or industry. Without brand voice you have what we saw in the 1989 hit Disney film Little Mermaid when Ursula stole Ariel’s voice—an interesting character with a story to tell and no means to do so. Hashtag lost opportunity.
Lisa: Giving a brand a voice, or personality, is called (are you ready for this jelly?) anthropomorphism. Say that three times fast. It means humanizing something that’s not human. Like a brand. You like that word, Josh?
Josh: Now, before we get too deep into voice (see what I half-ass just did there: deep…voice. Ugh, edit that out, would ya?), what’s the best writing advice you’ve ever received, Lisa? I’ll share mine first. I was doing freelance work for my dentist, and he said something that’s stuck with me since, even if it is slightly misogynistic: “Good writing is like a good dress—it’s long enough to cover the subject matter, but short enough to keep things interesting.” Now you go!
Lisa: “Never take writing advice from misogynistic dentists.” Next.
Josh: So, the beauty of voice is that it can be what we as writers—or our clients—need it to be, whether it’s sexy, confident, factual, honest, bold or any other endearing trait a leading lady, leading man (or brand) would want to convey.
Lisa: In large part, the personality of a brand is shaped by the words and sentences its writers use. In my role, I’m mostly focused on one brand voice: Firespring’s. I write about our SaaS products and services, and while my tone may change slightly for each of our client bases, the voice is always “Firespring.”
Josh: On the other hand, I’ve worked as a professional writer for hundreds of brands over the last decade. With all those voices swimming in my head, I now have (and benefit from) a somewhat split personality. I’m sure “copywriter” is a covered mental disorder in the DSM-V; and I mean that in the most endearing way, because writers truly love what they do and the clients they serve. After all, it wasn’t the fame and endless fortune that lured us to this creative field.
Lisa: What are you talking about? I eat at my fave taqueria at least three times a week—that’s, like, $20 in tacos. Weekly. I’m living high on the hog. (Or chicken, as my taco preference would have it.)
Josh: $20 in tacos for one writer is 20 $1 McChicken sammiches for another writer. To each their own, I guess?
Lisa: A lot of thought goes into creating a brand’s voice. Ultimately, it’s about portraying a desired image. Think of it like this: You’re at a party with people you don’t know, and you want to be seen a certain way. Perhaps you’re a jokester and love the spotlight, or an intellectual who craves deep conversation, or maybe you’re a kumbaya-type who wants everyone to just shut up and love each other already. The words and phrases—and how you say them—help shape your image.
Josh: When you’re a writer every day is Halloween. You get to wear masks…
Lisa: …yeah, only you do that…
Josh: …and live in worlds that are totally new and interact with people you normally wouldn’t. Copywriters are chameleons; we talk differently with each project and to different audiences, depending on the client. But at the end of the day what’s cool is the strategy behind the writing. Everything we do is to make people think, feel or act a certain way. Copywriters pull more strings than a puppeteer in order to achieve a desired outcome. The feeling is indescribably intoxicating.
Lisa: Or, to say what he just said in a different voice, “Manipulating people’s emotions is dope.”
Josh: I think what we’ve proven here is there are a variety of strategies that go into writing with tone and voice, and those strategies even extend to style as it relates to being a little more verbose (me).
Lisa: And more succinct like me while I’m binge-watching Game of Thrones, eating tacos and jammin’ on a good Pinot Noir. I literally have no words.
Josh: One of the voices in my head is telling me we should stop here. This is the second time you’ve mentioned tacos, and you’re not yourself when you’re hangry. Go get a few chicky softs, and meet me back here next month for another educational banter sesh on the nuances and beauty of the written word.
Lisa: Heading for Amigo’s as we speak. #BetterOpportunity.
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