The best way to develop your brand voice is to use it
I recently had an interesting conversation with a former client. We were catching up, sharing news, and I mentioned that her food photographs on Instagram were getting better and better all the time. I told her that I was going through her page the other day, and as I looked more closely at the photos and captions, I realized that it wasn’t just the photography that was improving, it was the recipes themselves. “You’re really elevating your brand,” I said. “Your recipes are looking very sophisticated lately. I can see your growth.”
This client is a chef and media personality. Her business is expanding in all kinds of ways, primarily because she is such a go-getter, constantly looking for new opportunities to market herself. She shared something with me that day that I can’t stop thinking about. She told me it was her one-year anniversary of doing a daily Facebook Live for her brand. A show every day!
“If you do something every single day, you better get pretty good at it, or else you just don’t have the talent to begin with,” she said. We both laughed but I saw the truth in that. What I also saw was that she landed on one of the quickest and best ways to develop your brand voice: through daily practice.
For this client, her brand voice is not just her on-air personality, as ebullient as that is. Her voice is also embedded in her recipes, which make up her core brand content. The tagline we came up with for her brand is: “Spread Love Like Butter” and that really says it all – she shows love through food, as so many cooks do.
What she really got right is her daily commitment to crafting her voice. When she speaks about food and how to prepare it, she naturally and effortlessly talks about all the elements that shape her philosophy around cooking – family, community, gathering, love. I realized, watching a few of her Facebook Live shows, that she was creating her own “script” in real time. Not something someone else wrote for her, and not some rigid format, but a natural rhythm and cadence. Her own storytelling style. In the course of hosting her show, she lands on words she loves to use, and they become part of her narrative. Then, when she sits down to write her recipes and the stories around them, those words are right at her fingertips. She’s not searching around for what sounds good – she comes across as original and authentic because she’s using her own language.
You empower your brand voice the same way you do your personal voice – by using it, as often as possible. The more you hear yourself talking and see yourself writing about who you are, what you do and why it matters, the more you believe in yourself. You begin to not only trust your voice… you start to love it.
The strength of your voice will carry through to all the content you produce. The products and services you sell, the online courses you create, your social media persona, everything. It’s all shaped and inspired by your inimitable brand voice. And the best way to get to know that voice is to build some structure in your business that leads you to practice it regularly.
Some of my clients tell me they’re more comfortable “behind the scenes” and that they don’t want to be the “face” of their brand. I understand it can be daunting in the spotlight, but I’m also a big believer that stepping out of your comfort zone once you launch your business is crucial.
My chef-client is no stranger to the camera. It’s her happy place, and always has been. But when we first met, she was insecure about her voice as a cook and a writer. She wasn’t sure how to even write a recipe – we worked on that together as I was helping her establish her brand. And now I look at those recipes – the Roasted Branzino and the Ginger-Passion Fruit Chicken and the Sous Vide Tenderloin – and I think: wow, is this the same woman I met a year ago?
She found her voice.
You can find yours too, and it doesn’t have to take a lifetime. Search for ways you can stretch your voice in service to your brand. Every day, dream up opportunities to speak to or write for your audience. Over time, you’ll come to know your own style and personality. You’ll get comfortable with your natural language. You’ll develop your charisma. These are the things that set you apart from everyone else.
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