Finding your voice

A client told me recently, “We really feel like you’ve found our voice.” Which was great to hear. Because perhaps the most difficult aspect of copywriting for someone else is making it sound like they wrote the copy themselves.

But that compliment also got me thinking about how important it is for a company to figure out what its voice is. Since there are infinite ways a company can express itself, it’s not always easy to nail the voice.

So, what do we mean when we talk about “finding your voice?” In copywriting, voice is a complex soup. Its ingredients include tone, attitude, level of formality, confidence, simplicity, cadence, sense of humor and so many more intangibles.  You can mix these ingredients in countless ways to end up with a “voice” that is uniquely yours.

In this client’s case, we listened to the founder of the company talk at length about his values, his vision for the company, how he feels about his company vs. competitors and what makes his company special. Then we distilled all that into a style that we felt reflected his own voice as we began drafting copy for the company’s new website.

What we came up with is a voice that is confident and slightly cocky, but not boorish. Energetic. A little intense. Inspiring but with a down-to-earth practicality.  Turns out we were on the money. Because we took the time to listen closely, to essentially get inside the head of our client.

The takeaway here is that companies looking for copywriting support need to help their public relations and marketing people, be they employees or vendors, understand what really matters to them, how they express themselves, and the kind of voice they want to represent the company.

It’s not just about grammar and the rules of proper punctuation. Great copywriting for any application also calls for style, tone and all the other intangibles that together define the company’s voice. 

- Eric Whittington