Brand voice strategy means never having to say what everyone else is saying.
Recently, a collaborator of ours complained that all of the personalities in her industry (healing/wellness) use the same cheesy girlspeak. She was feeling pressured to adjust her own brand voice to fit into a sea of chatty gurus who say things like “hey babes” to greet their followers and constantly push what they call “posi vibes.” Looking at Instagram these days is like going to a high school football game. So noisy, so upbeat. So many cheerleaders.
Call it the Californication of Everything. There was this moment, circa 2015, when our current decade peaked in an explosive obsession with all things affirmative. Everyone was trying to be the online Oprah.
Then shit got real.
By 2017, the digital delirium had begun a steep decline. The positivity movement started to feel trite at best. Annoying, almost. And pretty tone deaf. Sure we all like to feel uplifted when the world is quite possibly going to hell, but the endless pablum just didn’t really ring true anymore. A lot of people actually feel like shit inside and they need someone to validate that.
Trends are hard on the psyche. They lead us to believe that everyone is doing this one thing this one way, and if we are not interested in that, then we are alone. In fact, the larger and louder a particular trend is, the more likely people are to be looking for something else.
See, for every movement, every trend, no matter how universal it seems, there are a lot of people who are annoyed by it. It might seem like the cheerleaders are the most popular girls, but they’re not ruling the school. There are burnouts huddling in corners and smoking, rolling their eyes and plotting revenge. Kurt Cobain was one of those kids. So was Kathleen Hanna. They defined their generation because they spoke—or sang, in their case—honestly about what was really going on. And that was actually a lot more inspiring than the phony stuff they were calling out.
The point is, you don’t have to talk like everybody else in your industry. In fact, it’s better if you don’t. “But, it works!” our friend said about the posi-babes in the wellness industry, “These people are doing well. They have a ton of followers.” Sure, it works. For THEM. Their clients are basic bitches. Is that who you want for clients? No, she replied, she wants to work with people who are intelligent, open and real, because that is what she herself strives to be.
So, if you want followers, don't be one. If everyone’s web site is pink, make yours black. If everyone’s copy is casual and clean, make yours intelligent and filthy. Speak directly to your audience in a way that is authentic to your brand, and you will never have to worry about competition. You’ll know you’ve made it when people start trying to be like you.