What Your Brand Can Learn From Norma Talmadge

Some of the silent era’s biggest stars fell when “talkies” were introduced. Why? Because the actors’ actual voices didn’t match up to the images they portrayed on the silver screen. Norma Talmadge, a well-known star of the silent era, was forced to retire after her two talkies tanked at the box office. Unfortunately for Norma, her strong Brooklyn accent was a stark contrast to her screen-based persona of a sophisticated and elegant star.

What does this little history lesson have to do with marketing a brand? Just like Norma, if your brand’s voice doesn’t match your organization’s image, failure is inevitable. Consumers will find the contradiction just as jarring as Norma’s fans did back in the ‘20s when the elegance and grace of a silent star was undone by her regional accent.

Your brand’s voice is the “who” of your company; through it the personality of your organization is communicated.

To ensure your brand’s voice is authentic to your organization’s image—that it truly communicates the essence and reality of your organization—ask:

  • Is it well-defined? As in, could an outsider correctly describe your brand’s voice in three words (i.e., irreverent, but not offensive)?
  • Is it consistent, but does it also allow for flexibility across communication medium and length?
  • Can all brand ambassadors speak in your brand’s voice? Is it believable when they do?
  • Does it take into account the customer’s perspective?
  • Is it engaging? Does it invite conversation and contribution?
  • Does it resonate with target audiences?

Brand voice is the purposeful, consistent expression of a brand through the words you use and the sentences you write. It is essential to get it right. Don’t let your brand go the way of Norma Talmadge. While she may have looked like a sophisticated leading lady, once the sound came on, her “brand voice” literally put her out of business.

Have questions about your brand’s voice? We’d love to chat.

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2018-02-15T22:52:49+00:00August 13th, 2014|