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Hey: Where did that voice come from?

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Don’t be stung by inauthenticity01242014-tumblr_mzl4dzAHhH1qczwklo1_500

Some in my class are English majors and don’t mind wading into the waters of how words work. So when Content Rules (Handley and Chapman) talked about voice, a close reading ensued. Handley and Chapman lobby for authenticity in voice: voice is your own way of corralling point of view and word choice and rhythm (meter?) and pressing it all into service. Voice is making language work to express your words in your way. Voice is what you sound like when you talk (and we’re aiming for conversational writing in this class, so writing and talking sort of blend).

But voice is also something that gets companies and organizations all hepped up. To give your brand a personality by adopting a particular point of view (which leads to word choices/meter and etc.) is what companies and organizations seek these days. Voice helps a brand stand out from the crowd.

And one must stand out.

But this:

How can you write with an authentic voice when you are adopting the voice of the brand?

Good question, English-major-friend. Two answers come to mind:

  1. Sometimes we use voice in the service of some larger purpose. So we might submit our voice to the larger brand purposes and adopt as best we can the machinations of the brand voice. Some people may naturally embody a brand voice. The rest of us have to work at it. This adding and adopting is part of serving the larger goal you believe in (at best. At worst: you adopt voice to make coin for rent). This is the collision of craft, faith and service.
  2. If you find yourself stinging with inauthenticity as you write for your brand—look for a different job.

I’ve maintained all along that when people add their voice to a project, new things happen. Sometimes a new voice provides new electricity and a new approach to a time-worn topic. Even old-timers can learn stuff from new voices.

Of course, people must voice up.

If you don’t say what you’re thinking, the new thing just around the corner will sit there in silence—just around the corner.

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Image credit: red-lipstick via 2headedsnake

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