Online communications—through websites, email, social media, and sharable articles, photos, and video—have created more opportunities than ever before to convey a company’s spirit, culture, and philosophy.
Every interaction is an opportunity to build a recognizable voice for your business, a feeling people associate with it, a unique personality. To build your company’s unique voice, it helps to learn from some of the greats. Here are five companies who have successfully harnessed the the power of voice:
The online shoe and clothing retailer, Zappos, was one of the first companies to build a loyal fan base by conveying a unique corporate personality through all of its interactions, online and off. Email notices like shipping confirmations and problem resolutions are friendly and fun, and CEO Tony Hsieh shares everything with his Twitter followers, from his business plans to what he had for lunch. Zappos’ voice is fun, friendly, quirky, and transparent, with a focus on providing top-notch customer service.
Coca-Cola is one of the most recognizable brands in the world, but it has the challenge of keeping at the front of potential customers’ minds, ahead of its many competitors. One the ways it’s done that is through its viral, online, Happiness Campaign—which is only distantly linked to its actual product. The campaign’s web site features advice on living a happier life, but its real strength is the viral YouTube videos created for the campaign. Each video shows a fun, joyful experiment: A Coca-Cola truck arrives in Brazil, giving free Coke to some, and fun gifts like soccer balls and surfboards to others. A Coca-Cola machine in Hong Kong gives Coke in exchange for hugs. A machine in the U.S. gives out Coke, flowers, and balloons. Thanks to these fun videos, more people now associate Coca-Cola with joy, friendship, and wonderful surprises.
The Volkswagen Fun Theory campaign funds ideas that encourage healthy, kind, and responsible behaviors by making it more fun to do the right thing. For example, a subway’s staircase plays a different sound for every step, making it more fun to take the stairs than the escalator. Volkswagen makes a YouTube video of each of the experiments, and since they’re fun and they make viewers happy, each video has been shared and viewed millions of times. Without mentioning their product, Volkswagen has become known as a fun, kind, and caring automobile company.
American Express wants to be known as a particular kind of financial services company: one that makes small businesses work and encourages people to pursue their dreams of entrepreneurship. To this end, American Express created the OPEN Forum, a news site and online community that teaches responsible money management and business skills, and brings entrepreneurs together to share ideas.
Liberty Mutual Insurance wants its corporate voice to be responsible, caring, and an example of good citizenship. To convey that message, it created the Responsibility Project, which shares stories of personal responsibility, including community activism, good parenting, and acts of kindness. Now Liberty Mutual stands out among insurance companies: Beyond the value of its insurance policies and financial products, it conveys the feeling that there is hope for humanity and we’re all making the world a better place.
The Fun Theory