There are lots of words entrepreneurs use to describe what I’m calling “voice”: culture, values, brand, vision, just to name a few.
There are lots of bits of process intended to help a group of people imbue a company with voice: creative briefs, mission statements, brand bibles, design guides, just to name a few.
The best voice is authentic and has integrity. It resonates in a “know it when I hear it” kind of way. Apple is an obvious, and therefore hackneyed, example of voice. When apple talks, people listen.
Individuals have voice. Sometimes a company is the voice of the individual. Sometimes an individual’s voice is simply louder than the company’s. Whether Apple’s voice is separable from Steve Jobs’ remains to be seen, but I’m optimistic. At the very least, “What would Steve do?” will echo for a few years.
It’s the CEO’s job to find the voice of the company.
Personally, over the last 6 months, I lost my voice. I got busy. I got head down. I got caught up. I got concerned and a little stressed. I made the decision to be what the company needed me to be. There’s sacrifice in that, but not much power.
Now the company needs a voice. We’re ready to make some noise. I need to find my voice. I need to connect to the voice of Red Rover, my company.
We’re launching a new website. Red Rover has a voice, I just need to find it.
All the process pieces – creative briefs and SWOT analysis are just tools to point at where that voice needs to be.
Many of those tools describe the audience. Focusing on the audience can be useful – sure you want to connect – but it’s also dangerous. Authenticity has a little risk in it. Voice is straight in a way that stands out from the crowd. Creative briefs are no way to find authenticity.
The voice I’m looking to connect with is the voice of:
“This is right.”
“This is us at our very best.”
“This is big.”
The market we are in is so barren.
We have an incredible opportunity to be distinct by being us at our best -authentically calling to something that matters.