Branding

Building a brand, one note at a time

Author
Marc Davison
No.
211
Date
06/06/08

Sting. Dylan. Neil Young. Waits. Joplin. Good singers. But what really sets them apart is their unique vocal quality. Before their lyrics penetrate you, before their melodies mesmerize you, the sounds of their voices draw you in.

It sets them apart from everyone else.
It’s their differentiator.
Their brand.

Your first brand touch point

Your voice is your brand. It needs a unique sound. Especially where it’s first “heard” — online, in the written form. There, it appears like notes on sheet music – tablature – on your Web site, on your blog. It’s seeps through every comment you leave, every Twitter update, text and instant message.

It is the very first touch point of your brand.

Though it’s inaudible, you’re Internet voice speaks volumes about how you think and what you stands for. Like scents, companies have paid considerable attention to their written voice by focusing on its written timbre.

Apple uses a custom Myriad Pro font. They also structure their message using simple, staccato  sentences — More Power. Thinly  disguised. — rather than long-winded, descriptive narratives. This is consistent with the simple elegance they place into their product line.

British Airways crafted their written voice with the use of a customized Mylius font that stands as an immediate identifier. It has become as synonymous with travel as the old Pan Am font. Had I written this post using Mylius, you’d have recognized their voice first in this post, not mine.

The chime of your brand

Attend to your written voice. Don’t allow it to lay flat on a page through with long sentences and fat paragraphs that drone on, verse upon verse, never peaking, never arriving, never breaking for the chorus. It creates the impression that you talk more than you listen.

Your written voice can stutter by virtue of repetition, saying the same thing over and over, drilling the same point home again and again and again and ” This reeks of being overzealous. Hard sales vs. a softer and passive voice – the timbre most closely aligned with the Web.

Your written voice can be too loud. It can overwhelm and project off the page through bold fonts, rainbow colors, styles and sizes that scream at the reader and muffle the otherwise beautiful tone of your intent. The first impression of this voice says your brand is scattered. Unclear of it’s direction. Creative but without a harness. Almost to the point of being obnoxious.

Your written voice can have an accent. It can ring like a Southern belle. Cut with Euro precision, and generate nuance by virtue of its own personalized ding. Midori Melon Liqueur offers their voice though a custom font and color choice as exotic as their product that differs greatly from its competitors. First impression before ever reading the words on their Website generate a swift desire for a cocktail.

When your written voice rings, your brand chimes.

Dear Ketel One Drinker:

In the film”Get Shorty,” Bo (Delroy Lindo) threatens director Harry Zimm, who refuses to cough up a screenplay for Bo to produce. Bo believes he can easily write his own. All it takes are some lines of description, dialog and a few commas. We all know better. It takes far more than that to move an audience. Move a story. Evoke a sense of meaning. Or build a brand.

Your written voice, like its spoken counterpart, if presented properly, can have an even longer lasting effect. Here are a few ideas:

Create a brand-identifying font that is different from the standard Times New Roman, Arial or Verdana everyone else uses. Apply to your website home page, newsletter and blog.

Pay careful attention to where your written voice is placed on the page and how much space it occupies. Ketel One Vodka has.

Be as selective as possible when it comes to the words you use. Every word, every comma could or could not convey the essence of what your brand stands for.

This is the beginning. The starting point of your brand. Ready, set, go!

– Davison