“The voice, Afghan matchmakers say, is more than half of love”. It opens the dance of conversation, invites affection and has the potential to join people in shared purpose and enduring closeness. All skilful brand guardians get this. If your brand understands its true purpose and communicates it with a voice people love to hear, chances are, you’ll have great success.
So how do great brand voices happen and what help is at hand if you feel that yours needs a few lessons?
Some great brand voices are the birth right of a powerful founder whose own voice, values and personality guide the company from the start. Think Steve Jobs. Think Richard Branson. Think Glastonbury Festival – the unlikely creation of Somerset farmer Michael Eavis in 1970. Overcoming massive challenges, Eavis and Glastonbury have remained in meaningful dialogue with their audience, making ‘Glasto’ a global super-brand. To quote Simon and Garfunkel, it’s “still crazy, after all these years”. And cool.
But what happens when you find yourself at the helm of an established business and you’re not sure how it sounds? Are you really speaking your customers’ language? Are you inviting their loyalty and affection through loveable voice – or twisting their arm with manipulation?
These problems are typically given to brand and communications consultants (I’m one of them). Our job is researching customer motivations and competitor differences and coming up with ideas on how to position the brand. We must differentiate, speak clearly and be true to the brand’s personality. Some of this work can be truly brilliant. But, as with much consultancy, it depends critically on the skill of the individual. As we all know from watching Mad Men, even Don Draper has his off days! And Don didn’t have digital to deal with.
So, enter the new world of linguistics and neuroscience – powerful new tools in the treatment of brand voice. They are bringing emotional metrics into play, upping the chances of getting Don Draper at his best and turning good copywriters into great ones.
Linguabrand have invented a word crunching robot called Bob. He’s an incredibly sophisticated algorithmic linguistic programme who listens deeply to business conversations. He understands how brands are speaking, what customers are saying and feeling about them, and how this compares with rival voices. Linguabrand then uses all of Bob’s listening metrics to create a powerful voice that speaks directly to customers’ psychology. It is a double whammy – very clever listening which hears how specific targets are feeling and then the right language guaranteed to get a response.
One of Bob’s specialities is metaphors. They are the most powerful kind of language as they turn words into pictures and hit us subliminally. They are how our minds and language are wired up.
Personifying and calling this software ‘Bob’, we created a metaphor. Get the picture?
 Roberts (2003) Shantaram