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How To Perspective-ize, Understand, & Use Your Voice Values In Your Brand Today

by Abby Kerr

in Uncategorized

About this column

Your Voice Values.

Know yours? Subscribe to our site for a complementary self-assessment, then return to this post for insight. Below, enter your best email address, click Go, and you’re on your way.


They’re not just fun to think about. They’re not just philosophy or for conjecture.

This is human being stuff. Identity level stuff.

Our highest ranked Voice Values express who we are, who we know ourselves to be, how we show up, how we make a difference.

Woman discovering her Voice Values while working at a cafe.The Voice Values are a paradigm for branding.

They’re a core part of The Voice Bureau’s signature methodology for helping clients understand what will work for them and why when it comes to communicating with and converting their Right People to buyers.

We’ve only just scratched the surface of sharing what we’d like to with you about the 16 Voice Values.

Clients and readers are asking great questions, such as the following:

  • Okay, I’ve got my top 3-5 Voice Values. Now what? How can I action these?
  • How can I use my Voice Values to write better copy?
  • Do my Right People share my Voice Values, or do they have different ones from me?
  • How come I have so many Values tied for first, second, or third place?
  • Why do some of my Voice Values seem to drastically contradict each other? (i.e. Intimacy and Audacity)
  • How can my Voice Values help me understand which Clients to take on, who to guest blog for, or who to pursue a joint venture with?

All interesting and very cool questions. And we are so glad you’re asking them. (Are you kidding me? I LOVE this stuff!)

The first clients who are currently going through our 2-Phase Empathy Marketing experience with Tami and me (yes, we’re consistently booking it without a sales page — which is coming January 2013 at last!) are getting a full-on illumination of how to make their Voice Values work for them in the context of their brand and their singular offer. Empathy Marketing is a thoughtful, integrity-filled framework for sharing your best work with your Most Likely To Buy People. Your Right Person profile and your unique mix of Voice Values are what nuance this framework and make your brand truly memorable and meaningful in the marketplace.

More on Empathy Marketing soon.

Meanwhile, here’s a round-up of ways for you to think about, understand, and use your Voice Values in your brand today.

  1. Each of us has access to all 16 Voice Values. We draw on each of them at different moments in our lives, in different contexts, when we’re with different sets of people. But we consistently lead with or are motivated by just a handful of them. These are your Top 3 to 5.
  2. Many people taking the assessment are finding they have ties between several different Values for first, second, and third place. For example, I myself have a tie between Excellence & Power for my #1 spot, Depth stands alone in my #2 spot, and I’m tied for Clarity & Legacy in my #3 spot. Is this okay? Yes. Is this confusing? No. Ties simply show the range of what I have access to when I lead and communicate. Excellence and Power are equally tied for me; they are actually motivated by something similar, but they are different expressions of that motivation. Make sense?
  3. Some people have been a little gobsmacked by the Values they are ranking very low for. I have a dear client who was dismayed to see Clarity at the bottom of her list. This doesn’t mean that she isn’t ever clear when communicating. It simply means that people are more likely to think of her as Enthusiastic, as Audacious, or as a Helpful person (all three high Values for her), before they’d say, “Wow, that Karla [not her real name] sure is clear!”
  4. Your Right People don’t necessarily share all of your top Voice Values, however, it’s likely they share one or two. After all, as human beings, we look to see ourselves reflected in others. It’s validating. Most likely, the people who are best suited to the offers you’re making are people who need and thus are unconsciously attracted to one or more of your Top Voice Values. For example, my client Ryan [not his real name] has a high Community value. He’s a master of bringing people together and rallying them in pursuit of a shared goal. However, as a buyer, he’s attracted to my brand because of my high Power value. He’s looking to increase his sense of leadership over his community and own his ability to make decisions that affect lots of people. He picks up through my messaging that I have that, and that’s what he wants. Thus, he’s drawn to me as a creative service professional.
  5. Just because someone ranks low for a Voice Value you rank highly in, doesn’t mean they’ll be attracted to your brand. I have a very low Playfulness value (but I’m still funny, rrrrrrright???) and I’m usually not drawn to brands who lead with humor. Not a judgement — just doesn’t speak to me at a core identity level. People have to want to tap into more of the vibe you lead with in order to buy in. See how that works?
  6. As it goes for Right People buyers, so it goes for collaborators. If you’re going to do a JV (joint venture) with someone — organize a blog carnival with them (do people still do those?), co-write an e-book, or invite them to speak as a guest in your virtual program — you’d better know their Voice Values and make sure they resonate with yours. For instance, I’m high on Depth and Clarity, but I wouldn’t invite someone to speak at my event just because he has a high Depth value. If he’s murky, goes on tangents, and indulges in hard-core navel gazing, he is SO not my person. That Clarity value is really important to me.
  7. Your copy naturally is influenced by your Voice Values. As you write for your brand (as long as you’re not ‘putting on’ or trying to sound like someone else on purpose) or hire The Voice Bureau to write for you, you’re going to naturally use metaphors that are intrinsic to the values you hold dear. For example, my client Ruthie [not her real name] is high in both Intimacy and Love, so her blog posts are laced with expressions like, leaning into stillness, cradling memories, and making love to meditation. My client Jan [not her real name] is high in Audacity and Accuracy, so she talks about working your ass off to get it right, hustling to be on-point, and running the game of your business like a high roller. Can you imagine what would happen if Ruthie and Jan swapped metaphors? Their respective Right People would run screaming for the hills! But rest assured — neither of them have any interest in touching each other’s signature phraseologie. They intrinsically sound like what matters to them. (And so do you! If you need help making sure that’s so, we offer a great revision-only service for web copy called The Copy Twirl. We’ll help you align your As Good As It Gets site copy with your top 3-5 Voice Values. Sas did it right before launching her gorgeous new site. Contact us today if you’d like to get started with a Twirl of your own.)
  8. Oh, and the contradiction question: why do I have some highly ranked Voice Values that seem so at odds, like Transparency and Security? Oh, the paradoxes of being human. You’re not a one-note flavor, are you? Me, neither. I mindfully designed the Voice Values assessment to allow for the vagaries in our human make-up. Every single one of us is a composition of tensions: a little bit of this, a little bit of that. Sometimes we edge over in one direction more than another, the next day — it flips. This is what it is to be a human being who is completely unlike any other human being on this planet — and yet wholly, mercifully just alike, too.

For more insight on the Voice Values, check out our Pinterest boards, where we’re daily curating the visual vibe of the 16 Voice Values. Just look for the 16 boards labeled (you guessed it) Voice Values.

In the comments, we’d love to hear:

What’s your biggest question about your Voice Values? We may not be able to respond to all queries here, but please be assured we’re noting what you’re curious about and are rolling it into our free content strategy and e-courses to come.

(Image credit.)

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Wendie Tobin January 2, 2013 at 8:43 pm

Despite all my awesomeness, Audacity and Playfulness were at the bottom of the heap for me. I am Depth, Excellence, Power, Innovation, and Intimacy.

Power, being perceived as the one “in the know” in professional settings, has often been my role. Even personally, I find myself as Dear Abby ALL THE TIME. I’m not exactly sure what energy I’m putting out there to indicate a level of expertise in ANY area of life—beyond em dash-use, power is not a voice value I seek or feel comfortable with—but it remains.


abby January 2, 2013 at 10:08 pm

Isn’t it interesting how other people can see us in ways we can’t? Sounds like the people around you know your high Power value well! I have the feeling that owning it in your own particular Wendie way is going to open up a lot for you this year.


Susana January 3, 2013 at 6:49 am

I just redid the assessment and it’s pretty much the same as the the very first time I did it – which is really affirming!

But I’d love some clarification on point 2 regarding the ties. For example, I have SIX values ranking all in as the highest: Intimacy, Depth, Love, Power, Audacity & Innovation. Playfulness came in at second. And then I have THREE values coming in third: community, enthusiasm and helpfulness.

With so many ties, would I draw only on the first 6 or would I also include the values that ranked second and third??


abby January 3, 2013 at 12:55 pm

Great Q, Susana. Please see my reply to Susan, below. I think it may shed some light on how to think about your results.


Leslie January 3, 2013 at 7:25 am

This is both deep and clear, which I can now see as reflections of the value you place on Depth and Clarity.

My top values are Enthusiasm, Innovation, Audacity, and Helpfulness. I guess this means that I could my voice to enthusiastically help my right people to innovate in audacious ways. This super-literal formulation seems easy to act on.

A lot of what people ask me about is how to make rather audacious life changes, namely “making it work” while living in a different country. I’ll keep thinking about this.

Thank you!


abby January 3, 2013 at 12:57 pm

Hey, thanks for the compliment, Leslie! Cool that you can see and hear my Voice Values in action.

I agree with you that the way you’ve framed the mix of your Values is probably too literal. More than being able to directly incorporate your Voice Values into a USP, the Voice Values are there to add flavor and texture to your convo — naturally, in a way you don’t have to overly analyze. (That’s what’s ironic: the Voice Values invites a really deep, analytic convo because they’re just so darn interesting, but the point of them is to release people into action in their brand.


Susan Wilkinson January 3, 2013 at 11:49 am

Very clarifying and helpful post, Abby! I’ve been working with it since last night.

Here’s my experience.
When I tested I had lots of ties with a score of 12 and a couple with a score of 10. All of them resonated with me based on the questions and comments of the test, but like Susana, I had more than 3-5 VV.

When the Pinterest boards starting going up and the definitions of each word became more clear, I began to question my test results–and to be challenged to own parts of me that are probably really important to my Right People, but that sort of make me nervous–like audacity. Iconoclasm is essential to me (um, INTJ and Enn 5/4, hello!) –and my RP need to see it. My best work will demand it. What my RP love is not necessarily what others in my life will love though–hence the reticence to claim audacity fully. You know though… just realizing this is the problem makes the audacity in me come out. “Don’t like me? That’s okay. I wasn’t made for you.” (Woke up singing The Story this morning, btw.)

One way this post helps me hone in on distinguishing what’s true when comparing test vs Pinterest vs my own self-analysis is considering what voice values I ~lead~ with in my work verses merely owning it as part of my repertoire or range. I’m still faced with too many VVs, but I’m confident that now I’m focused on the right ones and I think I’ll be able to whittle them some more as you continue to teach and I continue to be own what’s true. Really looking forward to it and, as ever, grateful.


abby January 3, 2013 at 12:54 pm

Susan —

Thanks for sharing your deep process here. I can certainly see your INTJ and Type 5 in action, that’s for sure!

Somewhere up there, you hit the nail on the head: yes, all 16 Voice Values are available to us, but if you try to embody them all in every exchange, you’ll start speaking to “just anybody” again, and thus, to nobody. And you’ll lose what’s uniquely compelling and memorable about you and the way you communicate in your brand. Kind of like if you met a new person in a public place, and in the space of 5 minutes, they showed you all 16 Voice Values, one after the other (I’m EnthuasiASTic! Now I’m Deeeeeeep! Now I want to be Intimate with you.) LOL. We’d think that person was crazy, right? That’s why some brands sound — to use a very serious word in a very politically incorrect context — schizophrenic.

Choosing to embrace a core of 3-5 values to guide your entire brand conversation, and leading most strongly with ONE value per page when writing copy, is the way to a consistent and authentic convo over time.

I’m so glad this discussion is helpful for you!


Susan Wilkinson January 3, 2013 at 2:03 pm

Ooooooo, let the whittling begin! And one per page is great. Schizo… yes, to be avoided I should think. :)

As I get clarity on word distinctions, getting to five or less should be pretty easy. I’m at 6 now. Sometimes I think my brand of Audacity is really about Power (“Pay attention, what I have to say could change everything!”) or Clarity (“Don’t you people SEE IT?”) or even Innovation (“That’s not the best way!”). Hard to say just yet, but I’ll get there.


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