After over a decade of being in the branding and marketing world, it actually happened.
I lost my voice.
Not in a Miley-Cyrus-raspiness kind of way.
I lost my brand voice.
I feel vulnerable even sharing this with you now. Because I’ve built an entire career around showing others how to find their own voice as the root and foundation of a brilliant brand experience they can build out from that. Helping other business owners shine authentically, own who they are, and share their value free from judgement is my jam. And yet here I was, all of a sudden feeling lost and scrambled in my own business, trying not to surrender to a feeling I hadn’t experienced since my early days of building my first company back in 2013.
After sitting with this feeling for a while, I finally pinpointed what had happened. I thought I knew my business like the back of my hand. The ins-and-outs and everything in between. And that included having a good idea of what was in store for any kinds of pivots or opportunities of growth and scale.
But when I made the shift in our business model to helping our clients in our accelerator container, I made a big discovery that blew my mind.
All of a sudden there was this void in my business that hadn’t been there before; one that had previously been filled with years and years of 1:1 custom client projects. I now had all of this space and time to work on my own brand, and suddenly felt paralyzed by fear and uncertainty. After hiding behind the amazing work we did for our clients for so long, I didn’t realize I had lost sight of what my own brand’s personality was.
Like I said, I had lost my voice.
Why Your Brand Voice Matters
Your voice embodies and encompasses your brand’s personality and set of values. But perhaps more importantly, it’s responsible for creating those authentic connections with your audience. In other words, your brand’s authentic voice is what will have the greatest influence on the hearts and minds of your customers.
So everything you say as a business, including your lead magnets, email marketing, social media captions, and blog posts should convey this unique voice so that people can connect with your brand on a deeper and personal level. That is how you get people to purchase with you without actually having to “sell” to them.
Signs Of A Lost Brand Voice
I wish I could say that this realization was an obvious one for me. But the signs can be extremely nuanced, which explains why so many entrepreneurs struggle to connect with their audience. Here are some of the most common signs:
1. Spiraling On Social Media
We all love following accounts that inspire us (especially on Instagram). I think that’s one of the positives of social media: getting to witness all of these brands and creators out there doing really cool things that encourage us to create outside of our own comfort zone, push our limits of creativity, and get us to think about things differently. But if you don’t have a strong sense of brand self with a voice of your own, then you might start to notice that the very accounts you follow may be triggering other feelings instead of just inspiration.
Personally for me, this had taken the form of extremely unproductive thoughts and a constant case of comparativitis. I found myself spending more time consuming instead of creating, wishing I had what so-and-so brand had, or frustrated that I wasn’t where I wanted my business to be yet. And all of that for me was a red flag.
2. Second-Guessing Your Own Content
This is also known as analysis paralysis. Analysis paralysis is when you spend so much time thinking through something that you end up not taking any action or making that decision at all.
So instead of being able to share my value freely, I became overly self-critical of every piece of content I created or thought up. And I would become really embarrassed about anything I put out…for no reason at all. It’s like I would automatically default to thinking that people wouldn’t care. This had me lean into playing it small and safe, which doesn’t help my audience or my business.
3. Adopting Other Brands’ Style and Voice
This one didn’t happen to me so much (since I took a hiatus from putting anything out to begin with), but I see it happen with 90% of brands out there.
If you don’t have a strong brand voice of your own, it can become really easy to “try out” or “borrow” another brand’s voice and style. And what I mean by that is to regurgitate what you see other people posting about or doing because you see it working for them. And this might not even be intentional on your part–you might be doing this consciously or subconsciously.
Of course this happens to everyone from time to time. Everyone’s markets are oversaturated and there’s bound to be some occasional overlap. The whole concept of inspiration is built on the notion that none of us will ever be the first to try anything. To be inspired means to try something that we see but then putting our own spin on it and doing it our way.
But if you find yourself being a little too “inspired” by others every time you go to post, then you’re not creating or connecting with your audience in mind. And what you’ll be left with is a confused brand, making it harder for you to stand out.
How To Find Your Brand Voice Again
In addition to doing a more holistic check in with my branding by going through our own Brand Brilliance framework that we take our clients through, I’ve also committed to the following 3 things to find and strengthen my brand voice again.
1. Digital Detox
Sometimes, when we’re surrounded by a lot of “noise” and distractions, it’s hard to hear what we have to say. As I mentioned earlier, it also becomes very easy to adopt other people’s style and voice unintentionally. This only muddles our own uniqueness even more causing inconsistencies in our own branding and making it harder to stand out. So getting rid of the digital noise and distractions in my life, specifically on Instagram and in my inbox (the two platforms that are the most prevalent for me) has been super helpful. This looks like like muting or unfollowing accounts whose posts I felt triggered by or unsubscribing to emails that provoke the same feelings. This doesn’t have to be a permanent move and it’s helpful to remember that this action is really about assessing how other accounts and brands are serving you and the role they are now playing in your life
2. Creating a Connection Plan
One of the casualties of not knowing your authentic brand voice is that it creates a lack of connection with your audience and community. That’s the whole point of why you want to build a brand for your business: a brand is all about making connections and building trust with your audience in order to nurture relationships and ultimately grow a loyal customer base.
Our biggest connection points with our audience had always been our blog and our weekly newsletters. So I asked myself, “Are these the only points of connection that I envision our brand to have in the future?” The answer was a resounding “Nope!” I actually see us doing a lot of video. So my team and I have been experimenting with different ways we can start doing that now but still in a way that feels authentic and enjoyable to me. And the digital detox has helped a ton in being able to share those videos in peace without the mental judgement and pressure I had been putting on myself previously.
3. Adhering to a Posting Schedule
Like I mentioned before, we show up for our audience every week in a new blog post and in our weekly newsletter to our mailing list subscribers. But because I had taken a break from Instagram, I hadn’t even been promoting our blog content on social. I hadn’t been posting about anything for that matter.
So knowing my desire to create new connection points in the form of video and having Instagram in general be an effective marketing tool (and a robust connection point in and of itself), I made a commitment to start showing up more on there. But only if it feels good to me.
This is IG’s suggested posting schedule to maximize your engagement. It seems a bit much (and I personally believe that the best posting schedule is whatever you can keep up with, especially if you’re starting out or coming off a hiatus). But if that looks like this frequency for you, amazing! But regardless, this is good information to know.
You can lose sight of your brand voice or personality for a number of reasons. For some brands (like my own), maybe you experienced a ton of growth or pivoted recently and along the way, you realized that your brand has evolved and changed and that the voice you used to have no longer rings true or fits you. Or maybe you launched your business without any real branding in place; you were always going to come back to it but then things came up and you never did. Whatever the reason may be, I encourage you to find it again. It will always be worth it. And if you’re not quite sure what next step to take or where to start, check out our branding accelerator (I’m currently retaking it for my own business!). It’s the soup-to-nuts of building a complete and strategic brand as well as website for your business.