Finding a Voice for Your Brand
Brand awareness is super important. With the right brand positioning, you can attract the exact target audience you're looking for. I know that with AlleyNYC for instance, we want awesome up-and-coming startups to be attracted to our space. We also know that AlleyNYC is an up-and-coming startup. We knew that being ourselves, and being authentic to who we are, no matter how many people we put off, we would attract really great people to join our community.
Here are some tips to help establishing the voice of your brand:
1. Ask yourself: "Who am I targeting?" Is your target older rocket scientists or young hipsters? In most cases, you obviously don't want to talk to your parents the same way you talk to your friends. (Until you get old enough.)
2. Speak to your target. Once you have defined who your target audience is, start speaking to them. Chances are, you have been dealing with them for years and you know exactly who they are. Do what works best as you already know it.
3. Ask the voice: "What would YOU do?" We love this one. It makes our job a million times easier. We hardly have to think about major decisions. In most cases, when something comes up that needs to be decided, we look at our logo and ask her: "What would Alley do"? We ALWAYS get an answer, and most of the time (nobody is perfect), it is the right answer.
4. Stay consistent. Changing your brand voice will only confuse your audience. It's like being bipolar. For the most part, for you to get a solid following, your message needs to stay consistent. You can not be a Yankee fan one day, and the very next day be rooting for the Red Sox . That is CRAZY and confuses people. Solid followings are brought on by solid messaging.
5. Be authentic. Aside from being consistent, your messaging needs to be real. If you are trying to be deceptive, like using a ton of pop-up ads, it's only going to annoy people. You will not get a solid, consistent following and in most cases you will not get a good reputation. Perception is everything, and if you can not keep it real, then do not even do it.
6. Be fearless. So now you have a target audience, you know how to speak to them, you know what the voice would do in most circumstances. Plus, you know to stay consistent and keep it real... now go for it. A perfect example of this is our newsletter. When you subscribe to AlleyNYC's newsletters you will notice we do not hold back. We curse, we joke, we do it all. We offend people. Straight up we make people mad. These are not the people we want in our community anyway so screw it. Our target audience loves it, and they know we are staying true to our brand, and the brands voice.
7. Listen to your clients. Look, all of this is great, but if you are not selling anything and nobody is listening, the market is telling you something. Do something else! Never be afraid to fail, and never get too emotionally wrapped up in your idea or product, that you continue to work on something that people do not want. We will talk more about this in later pieces.
Here are some examples of companies with strong brand voices:
Shindig - Shindig is a mobile social app that connects drinkers. Yup, drinkers. TONS of personality in this one.
Brainscape - Give your brain a workout with this application that uses the science of an advanced flashcard system. Looking at the home page of this app and you already feel smarter.
Makerskit - Beautiful DYI (do-it-yourself ) kits that bring out the best in you. Looking at the beautiful design and copy of their site makes me want to build something NOW.
Now you are ready to create your brand voice and launch that product into users hands. Go forth and conquer, I am rooting for you. KICK ASS!
Jason Saltzman is a seasoned entrepreneur with a background in sales and marketing. Through his role as CEO of Alley and as a TechStars mentor, he advises hundreds of startups, offering real-life practical application and creative marketing advice.