What’s Branding? It’s Finding Your Voice…
What’s the unifying story of your stream?
Every stream tells a story. I don’t mean this in the most basic sense; not every creator is using their platform to deliver a defined narrative with a beginning, middle, and end, and neither are they universally ‘telling the story of their lives,’ if that makes sense. Instead, what I mean is that every creator has things that make them unique, from core beliefs about life and the world, to personal passions, their likes, their dislikes, and all of these things manifest in their content. That narrative, of who you are, why you’re creating, is one you tell every day, with every piece of content you release. That’s your story, and it’s one of the major pieces that make up your brand.
So, step one in defining your brand is asking that way-too-big question: who are you? Where do you come from? What do you care about? What do you love? What do you hate? You don’t have to have the self-awareness of an enlightened monk, but it’s important that you take a look at yourself, at the way you talk, the issues you care about, even the games you play, and start thinking about what ties it all together.
Are you able to describe yourself, as a creator, in a few sentences? Are you a lover of independent creation, expressing yourself through your content while appreciating the work of smaller developers? Maybe you’re a developer yourself, constantly thinking about the ins and outs of game development, dissecting games like a craftsman as you play. You could be a beer-guzzlin’ gamer dude, hanging out and getting tipsy with your internet buddies, or a visual artist who focuses on beautifully designed games, or other work that you find impressive or inspiring. These are just examples, but you can see how everyone, no matter who they are, has a story to tell, they just need to figure out what it is, define that narrative, and then lean into it. Once you’ve figured out what that narrative is, then it’s much easier to see how everything else you do can fit into it, feed off of it, and strengthen your platform. How? Well that’s all a part of the next step…
Finding Your Voice
Figuring out the story you’re telling through your content is pivotal when it comes to empowering yourself to move forward with a plan, and with confidence, but once you’ve done so, you still have to put that plan into action. There’s a great deal that goes into executing on your brand, but for now let’s just consider how it should effect the most important part of, really, any creative endeavor: your voice.
Voice, for the purposes of this discussion, refers to the way your identity, your narrative, manifests in the things you say and do. I don’t just mean what you say within your content, but everywhere, from your stream, to your social media, to any blogs or vlogs, and everything else you create. It’s important that you constantly be aware of the story you are telling through these moments, through your language, through your tone, through the topics you decide to talk about.
This doesn’t mean you should actively change how you sound, what you say, to fit some preconceived notion of what’s acceptable or appropriate. Many, when they’re told they have to find their voice, become overly self-aware, changing the way they speak. This is a bad move. The reality is, you already have a voice. Your job isn’t to figure out some new tone or vocabulary, it’s to identify the voice you already have. Are you optimistic? Sardonic? Verbose? Do you have strong, forceful opinions, or are you careful to consider multiple viewpoints, weighing pros and cons? These are things to discover, not to decide.
And, like your narrative, once you’ve discovered just what elements define your voice, you can be more mindful of them moving forward, leaning in to them when you make creative decisions. How does your voice, the tone, the attitude, reflect your narrative, and thus, your brand? How can that carry over into other things, like your logos, your emotes, your merch? Once you’ve gotten a firm hold on these two key elements of who you are, of what defines you and your content, it’s must easier to move on to more complicated steps.
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