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Find Your Voice

Companies and children need to learn to express themselves

When it comes to storytelling, or content in general, one of the biggest challenges companies face is finding their unique voice.

Actually, many may not perceive it to be a challenge at all, because it’s not really given any thought. But developing a unique voice that’s authentic to who the company is one of the best ways to create compelling, memorable content.

The reason companies don’t really consider voice is that they’ve often had them “snatched” by common convention. Too busy looking at their competition and peers, companies too often wind up imitating each other, without focusing on what makes them different or on what the customer might want.

As a result, corporate voices often become dull, vanilla, expected. In his book, Uncopyable, Steve Miller calls this “strategic orthodoxy.”

It’s not unlike what can happen with children as they grow up and have their individuality and creativity stifled. That is the basis for Melody’s Song and the City of the Voice Snatchers, a children’s book by Lonna Hardin.

Lonna and her book were featured on my podcast, “The Storytelling Companion,” which you can listen to here:

Lonna wrote the book to give children the courage to find their own voices and let them be heard. “I believe every child has been gifted with a hidden potential and they deserve the chance to reach their dreams and achieve the best in life,” Hardin said.

She added that too often children have their voices suppressed by society and well-meaning adults who tell them they need to act and behave in a certain way. It takes tremendous courage for kids to pursue their own voices.

“I think about my own life and how much more I could have done if I had the confidence to really pursue my own dreams,” she added. She said she wrote the book in hopes that children would develop that confidence.

She’s gotten a positive response to her book, and not just from children. Adults are responding to it, too.

And as a marketing consultant herself, Hardin thinks companies can learn from her message. Companies need to be authentic and transparent about who they are. “Let's start being honest about the stories that have shaped us even as brands about the hardships that have, have gotten us to where we are,” she said.

To create truly memorable and effective content, companies need to discover and use their own voices, and protect from strategic orthodoxy taking over their messaging.

How to Get Started

Admittedly, this is not an easy task, but it is essential. The best way for companies to get started in finding their voices is to take a look at their own organization.

Companies whose founders are still around have a head start. More often than not, these are the people who set the tone for the company. The company was their vision, and that vision should come through in the company’s voice, at least to a certain extent.

For companies whose founder is no longer in the picture, or whose voice has become homogenized for other reasons, finding their voice requires some introspection.

Take a look at your company story – how and why it was founded, what struggles you had to endure in the early days, what problems you set out to solve. Also look at your company values and culture, and how employees communicate internally.

All of these things can yield clues as to what your company voice should be.

It also can be helpful to bring in an outside consultant to offer a fresh perspective on your company voice and what it should be. If you need help finding your company’s voice, please contact me.

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