Notes for Tim Noonan’s Amplify Presentation: Your Voice, Your Business, Your Brand

This post has been prepared for attendees of AMP’s Amplify Festival presentation by Tim Noonan
Your Voice, Your Business, Your Brand!

“The way a brand sounds is extremely important. After all, as a consumer, we want to know if that brand sounds like elements of us and holds our values. Is it an auditory brand that we trust because it sounds like someone we relate to? We buy from people we trust, so hearing someone’s voice representing a company or selling to us is just the same. It’s one of the most important and overlooked areas of marketing. Get it right, and your turnover will multiply.” – Sara Mendes da Costa, the current voice of the BT Speaking Clock

Vocal Branding is the strategic and purposeful use of voice to amplify brand values, focus brand positioning and increase brand engagement. It realizes the intrinsic capacity of the human voice to transmit emotion, and its extraordinary potential to create compelling, durable and trusted brand relationships with clients, colleagues and customers.

Introduction

“Whether you are representing yourself, or are part of a major corporation, you are expressing and defining your brand every single time you speak.”

The human voice is the most overlooked and underused resource in business. Every company knows how it’s supposed to look, but do you know how your company should sound? Corporations invest billions on visual branding but it is the voice of your organisation – and every one of its representatives – which is the key to building and maintaining trusted relationships.

Hear why the techniques for vocal branding are as applicable to multinationals as they are to contact centres and face-to-face sales teams.

Our presenter, Tim Noonan, will make the case that there is no better way to build trust than the intimacy of the human voice. To create brand consistency and loyalty, be strategic and purposeful with how you use voice in every conversation throughout your organisation.

During this one-hour Samplify session you will find out how to:

  • Deepen the emotional engagement with your brand

  • Boost the power and impact of your message by as much as 38 per cent

  • Captivate, engage and retain more people, authentically and in more ways

  • Forge respectful, resilient and long-lasting telephone and face-to-face relationships between employees, clients and customers

In this presentation I refer to a variety of audio examples and case studies to demonstrate concepts and show how tightly voice and brands are inter-connected. Some are of clients we have been engaged to work with, and are linked below.

Please email me tim@timnoonan.com.au to inquire about our corporate voice workshops and conference presentations.

What Is Vocal Branding

Vocal Branding is the strategic and purposeful use of voice to amplify brand values, focus brand positioning and increase brand engagement. It realizes the intrinsic capacity of the human voice to transmit emotion, and its extraordinary potential to create compelling, durable and trusted brand relationships with clients, colleagues and customers.

current Research into sound and emotion confirms that human vocalisations have the strongest emotional response in humans.

“sounds that evoke the strongest emotional response tend to be those from living things, especially other humans. Mechanical or environmental sounds tend to grab your attention, but are usually limited in how far they will take your emotional response, unless they tell you of specific dangers you want to confirm visually … Sounds deliberately made by living things are almost always communicative – the dog’s growl, the frogs croak, the baby’s cry – and are almost always harmonic (with variations from harmonicity bringing their own emotional response, such as cringing when someone screams)”
– Seth Horowitz, The Universal Sense: How Hearing Shapes the Mind

“Every brand should be clear about its voice, and consistent in the way it is heard… its power, its attributes and the ways in which it affects listeners….” – Julian Treasure Sound Business

On-brand voices harmoniously resonate with the values of the brand and imbue the brand with more personable properties that clients and customers can trust and relate to. They efficiently convey ideas, impressions and feelings from speaker to listener. In short, on-brand voices breathe life into the brand.

Voices that don’t reflect the brand – Off-brand voices – diminish and distort your brand’s power and integrity. They can either make the brand fall flat, or sound too sharp. An off-brand voice damages the overall brand image in the same way that an off-key singer or musician can spoil the harmony and aesthetic of a musical performance.

Vocal Branding strengthens brand experiences by carefully matching a brand’s values and personality with a voice able to express the vocal equivalents of those values and personality.

We are increasingly living in a ‘Seeing is believing’ world, and are losing sight of the enduring power of the human voice to touch, influence and ‘move’ people. This is a key reason why Vocal Branding is so relevant and necessary for leading-edge companies focused on building an on-going relationship with their clients and customers.

Contemporary Vocal Branding approaches result in more spoken messages in the marketplace that are inviting, suggest possibility, are engaging and compelling. They literally lay down the sound foundations on which an authentic conversation can build between the consumer and your brand.

Voices and Brands: Past Present Future

Past

Jingles, over annunciated speech

Present day

Better audio production, audio compression (loudness), silence and breaths minimised, hip voices, prominant music. More Mood-based than true emotionally-alive voice. Still strong echos of old DJ voice-over tone

The future

More subtle aesthetics in vocal, natural open expression, evocative questions

Greater linguistic equality and decline of superior speaking style.

Warmth

Breathing and pauses

Voice in foreground not so deeply submerged in background music bed

Evocative word choice, in place of power words.

Realisation of the human voice’s innate capacity (rightly guided) to express and transmit authentic emotion to the listener.

Vocal Branding is about moving from indiscriminate pushing messages and ideas out, to engaging and conversing. In essence its about having an authentic conversation with our customers, clients and buyers.

Modern voice approaches such as those described above offer promise and potential, and respectfully invite people into true connection and conversation with the brand and its community members.

When a baby is born, we know it is alive because it uses its voice to announce its arrival to the world. So, it isn’t much of a stretch to consider that the way to bring a brand to life, is to give it a clearer more declaratory voice.

Each time we speak, we are metaphorically giving birth to idea and to possibility, crystalising our intention into a more tangible form.

Other Presentation Themes and Ideas

The Relationship Between Voice and Trust

Our voice can invite trust, develop trust and we can also learn to listen at a more insightful level to assess or ‘feel’ trust based on the sound of another.

“The human voice forces its way into us. It is really inside ourselves that we hear it. To hear it properly we must allow it to vibrate in our heads and our chests, in our throats as if, for the moment, it really belonged to us. That is surely the reason why voices never deceive us.” – Jacques Lusseyran

“The voice is the gateway to our intuition and intuition is key to assessing trust.”

In my talk I argued that it is by restoring greater honour to our often overlooked sense of hearing, and through re-establishing a harmonious balance between the twin communications senses of Seeing and Hearing, that we are in a position to understand the world (people, things and situations) both from the perspective of its surfaces (through seeing) and its interiors (through listening).

“We have forgotten how to listen. Through the practice of deep listening, you will encounter your voice as your very self, with an acceptance and compassion that inspires a deeply felt process of self-enquiry.” – Chloe Goodchild

Many earlier cultures recognised that there is an inextricable association between the human voice and trust that is revealed through exercising our largely un-remembered skills of insightful “heart-felt” listening.

Our health, trust and our integrity is understood by others to be greater when our voice reflects healthy states of balance, for example:

  • Balance between our thoughts and our feelings (head and heart)

  • Balance between our inner world and our interpretation of our outer world experience;

  • Balance between our Past and our Future (are we mostly in the present, the ‘Now’?

Trust can be assessed in the following ways:

  • Being open to the possibility that human speech and human hearing/listening can read the emotions and assess the trust of another within a specific context;

  • Rich speech which isn’t missing key emotional and personal information – I call head speaking empty speech;

  • The congruency of our words and of our sound and body language is the key to trust;

  • Deeper listening which involves dimming our visual processing (such as closing your eyes at the start of a telephone call);

  • Allowing a voice to resonate inside us, to feel how it makes us feel, rather than limiting our focus to just the words;

  • When questions or doubts arise, probing or seeking more information.

“Brand trust comes when the sound of your brand and its look and its values are all congruent. This trust is often undermined when we place insufficient attention on what voice to match with the rest of our brand.”

Why is the human voice being demoted and marginalised?

Why does our voice focus seem to be declining?

  • Drop in interest and concern about Vocal fidelity and audio fidelity;

  • Digital phones and low-quality voice codecs;

  • Photos and videos are easier to take than capturing quality voice recordings;

  • Facebook and Twitter and SMS are short form communications, often done in noisy places, on the quiet and by typing alone;

  • Voicemail largely failed in ease of use and efficiency, interactivity was too timing dependent;

  • We’ve got out of practice in the art of conversation and storytelling round the fire or singing round the piano – now we largely consume audio visual materials;

  • Language and a lexicon around voice has been stolen by marketers and others. e.g. “write using a clear tone of voice” and giving someone a voice on social media;

  • A continual move forward with visual art and design, but our use of voice has largely stayed still in comparison;

  • Too much empty speech – really just the words converted to sound;

  • Excessively disrespectful, plastic, patronising and superior use of voice in media and advertising. AM radio broadcasters, politicians, advertisers – so many of these use a telling mode of communication – using the voice to tell us how to act and what to think;

  • People – particularly social media promoters – demoting the significance of speech by Equating speaking with provision of information;

  • Technology’s current inability to reverse engineer and truly understand the richness of human spoken communications suggests to us that what we don’t understand or remember, doesn’t matter or doesn’t exist. Meaning is frequently equated and limited to machine-readability of data.

How is our use of voice changing over time?

The way we communicate and use our voices has changed dramatically, as have the expectations of listeners. So whether you are conducting a performance appraisal, leading a team or launching a new initiative for your organisation, using more of the contemporary approaches below will maximize interest, enthusiasm and engagement.

Once Was Now Is
Format was lecture now is conversation
Status was authority now is collaborator and invitation
Style was tell now is explanation
Tone formal and commanding now is natural and real
Delivery rushed with no breath now is more prosodic and spacious
Dynamic was all loud now is variable
Emphasis was shouty now is expressed in numerous ways

What is Vocal Consciousness?

Tim Noonan’s Vocal Consciousness approach is a set of principles and strategies which:

Vocal Consciousness is the journey of becoming more consciously aware of our own voice, and how we engage it, as well as becoming increasingly more conscious of the voices around us. Indeed, Vocal Consciousness is a journey from self consciousness, through to an increased consciousness of the self.

All of us, to a lesser or greater degree, unconsciously read and understand vocal language (tone of voice). After all, vocal language is the first kind of language communication we ever encounter, from inside the womb, and of course, when we are infants.

As we grow up, however, we are taught to restrict our own honest uncultivated vocal expressiveness; we are taught to behave, to suppress, and how to conform. In fact, we are rewarded for exercising a socially acceptable form of emotional repression, even dishonesty. We learn that it is often a bad thing to honestly express how we feel.

This teaching – by parents, siblings, school-mates, teachers, employers and the media – comes under many labels: “appropriateness” “stoicism”, “self restraint”, “professionalism” or “maturity”. But, no matter how it is labelled, it robs us of comfort in the natural act of expressing ourselves, truly expressing who we are and sharing our true feelings. It trains us to become more wedded to our intellect at the cost of becoming more disconnected from our emotions.

Over time this socialisation can lead to us giving less conscious attention and intentionality to our own speech, and bringing less respect and attention to others when they speak.

The result is that more often than not, when we hear someone speak, we dismiss or partially close ourselves off to what we hear and what we feel. We have been taught to give disproportionate importance to the words people say and to the body language people convey. We learn to dismiss and mistrust what we often describe as our ‘gut reactions’ to the sound of a speaker’s voice. That is, we gradually lose connectedness with the innate gift we are all born with – our in-built sense of vocal intuition about others.

Read the full article on Vocal Consciousness here

Free eBook and Vocal Essence Newsletter

During this talk I mention my presentation skills eBook ‘Your Voice is Your Business: Seven Voice Strategies for Vocal Brilliance’. Read or download my Your Voice is Your Business eBook.

You may also wish to subscribe to Vocal Essence our occasional Voice and Communication Newsletter.

About Tim Noonan

Tim Noonan is a voice consultant and lecturer, telephony consultant, inspirational conference speaker and the founder of Vocal Branding Australia.

Tim has a degree in Cognitive Psychology and Education, with a particular focus on how people process and comprehend auditory information. A lifelong student, his formal studies also include a Diploma of Remedial Massage Therapy, a Certificate in Relaxation Hypnosis and extensive studies in energetic & sound healing.

Tim Noonan is a professional listener and the creator of the Vocal Consciousness approach – strategies and techniques which promote vocal understanding; foster expressive speaking and nurture insightful listening. As a person blind from birth, Tim has learnt to listen for countless vocal cues that reveal so much more than the casual listener is aware of; and once enlightened, your way of speaking and listening will change forever.

Some of Tim’s voice clients include: St.George and Westpac Banks; the NSW Electoral Commission; the NSW Ministry of Health; Red Energy; Optus; Webber Shandwick PR; the Advertising Federation of Australia and the Australian Bankers’ Association.

Tim conducts personalised voice and presentation skills sessions as well as providing a variety of corporate voice strategy services to business.

website by twpg