Straight out of college, Mandy took a job as an admissions counselor for the New York Film Academy, but quickly fell into a marketing role and leaned more into this side of storytelling than production. Her next chapter brought her into the startup Fluent City, where she got her feet wet with being a part of a growing business and developing a brand voice.
After about five years there, she was looking for a new opportunity through Shapr, and around the same time she started using the app, they sent a newsletter saying they were looking for someone who could run their branding and PR, which she promptly took over.
Shaping your brand voice:
Mandy says your gut tells you what you want your business to sound like. This will guide your personality you project and how you differentiate yourself from the crowd.
While you may be tempted to jump on board with ideas that you see are excelling, Mandy poses this question:
“Well, you would never go to a dinner party and say the exact same thing as the person sitting to your right. And so I think it’s also really important to say in a crowded marketplace, you know, ‘how can I be different from my competitor? If every single brand out there is trying to communicate in a certain way, what can set me apart?’”
This is where your brand voice becomes important and keeps you from drowning in the crowded marketplace. For example, you can follow what mediums work, and then use your voice to differentiate you in that channel.
Mandy uses Wendy’s as a good example of a brand that said, “Twitter works, but how can we do it differently?”
Voice meets goals: How do you know?
However, you have to consider that while your voice may be effective and be catching attention, is it actually selling more hamburgers at the end of the day?
This is where the importance of testing comes in. Mandy emphasizes the value of establishing a close group of friends and/or potential customers to test out your copy and voice on. Ask them what they connect with, what stands out to them and what makes them want to use your product.
Discovering your voice is a difficult, period. But if you have a personal brand, this can get even trickier.
Mandy says it depends who you are, what industry you’re in and what product you’re selling. If your product is less attached to you, then you have more freedom to expand that personality. However, if it’s more closely related to you, you will largely be focused on who you are and how your voice can reflect that.
How important is voice compared to other priorities?
“Knowing what your brand voice is only matters if you’re actually using that and you’re actually applying that to the things you’re doing and I think that’s a little bit harder. Don’t be afraid of needing to do it overnight, be okay with testing things out one at a time and seeing what sticks.”
Mandy says that understanding what sticks requires testing and figuring out what your goals are for different topics. For example, if you are striving for improvement in acquisition, feedback, retention and thought leadership, identify your goals in each topic, then find which channels are best for that specifically, then test your content there.
As you narrow in on the content, assign metrics and figure out if they are circling back to the goals you set in the beginning. Then, when a piece of content works, figure out WHY it works.
Mandy is quick with the reminder that this process takes a lot of time. You don’t have to do it all at once, otherwise you will weaken your message. Instead, focus on the preferences of your users and pick two platforms where you can meet them. From there, once you gain momentum and an understanding of how things are working, you can start to build.
“And then the other thing you definitely always want to do, is to have a newsletter. Even if you’re not utilizing it, make sure that you’re collecting email addresses because having a newsletter is really a smart way to be able to connect with potential customers, to send them updates when you’re in the news, and to tell them about new products.”
While metrics, analytics, and likes can give you a surface level confidence boost, Mandy says there are even better ways to boost your mood. Ask your users how your product has helped them, and utilize those stories for internal high fives and great marketing. This gives you a deeper feeling than alike.
Be open and listen:
At the end of the day, brand voice takes a long time to take shape. Mandy emphasizes being open to reinventing, listening and then build on what works.