This guest post is by Lisa Haggis
Who better to spotlight for my debut profile than my predecessor, Abby Kerr? If you’re just being introduced, here’s the deal: Abby is the owner and Creative Director of The Voice Bureau – a boutique branding and copywriting agency for small businesses.
Spend a short time in her orbit, and you will rapidly observe one thing about Abby: her brand is adored, loyally followed, and often aspired to. Cozy up for a contemplative tour of this beautiful brand, including some behind-the-scenes insights from Abby herself.
BUILT ON PURPOSE
One glance at her site, and you’ll capture that everything she does is in the service of helping others find and use their authentic voice.
“So often solo and small business owners set out to create something meaningful and beautiful, but have little sense of how to present it.” Abby explains. “We empower our clients, course participants, and readers to understand the innate rules of their own brand so that it can have a voice.”
True to her organic nature, Abby stays the course with a set of values to guide her (including 7 carefully thought-out principles ranging from Integrity to Authenticity) instead of a single limiting purpose statement.
MAKING IT A LIVING
Abby has done a masterful job of translating all of these ideals and intentions into concrete writing services and entrepreneurial courses for The Voice Bureau’s clientele. When it comes down to it, people hire her to help them feel good about their brand and get more of the right business.
Throughout her web copy, she paints an enticing picture with pointed statements like “Imagine this: powerful you, sounding like you, speaking with intimacy and authority to your Right People. We wouldn’t have it any other way.”
POINTS OF DISTINCTION
While these promises get people to listen up, it’s how she delivers on them – her unique approach – that ultimately leads to real brand love and acclaim. It’s the unmistakable combination of themes consistently showing up in all of her brand decisions. Here's where I see Abby standing out most:
1) A Focus on Voice
“I’m obsessed with voice, and have built a business around it.” Abby proclaims on her About page. She is, indeed, an industry leader when it comes to helping values-based entrepreneurs show up online in their authentic brand voice.
This isn’t random, and it didn’t happen overnight.
Abby admits that defining her area of expertise was one of her biggest early struggles. “I’d push myself out of my sweet spot due to client requests, or people saying, ‘you know what you should really offer…?’ I felt like I was always going out of scope.”
But once she did stake out a niche that was true to her innate passions and gifts, she committed, solidifying her leadership by channeling her expertise into the proprietary Voice Values paradigm she has become known for. Unwaveringly, she puts voice first -- from sitting atop her list of blog categories to dominating the business name.
2) Authentic Connection
You witness Abby’s Authenticity value shining brightly at each point in the brand experience, but maybe most notably in her dedication to connecting only with best-fit clients and readers. She believes so strongly in this concept, in fact, that she’s derived her own terminology to represent them: Right People. An entire page of The Voice Bureau’s site is dedicated to articulating and attracting these souls.
Naturally, entrepreneurs look to Abby and her team to help them do the same. Right People profiling is included in all of the agency's one-on-one services, and authentic and empathetic connection has been an ongoing theme in many of the agency’s courses like Write Your Authentic About Page and E-Letter Atelier.
3) Innate Rules & Flow
Boldly, unapologetically, Abby doesn’t stick to anything that is no longer serving her or her audience. She always allows space for flow and intuition -- providing permission for her fans and clients to do the same (and who doesn't love permission to go against "the norm" and do their own thing?).
This philosophy is evident in her course list, where you’ll see her selection of teachings continuously evolve; her blog, which has periods of quiet when that’s what feels right; and even in The Voice Bureau’s own brand voice:
“We embody an energy that skates between authoritative and allowing. We teach and are principled and objective, while we also hold a staunch space for our client’s own personality, own knowing, own trajectory of desire to come to the table.”
If I could wedge a fourth theme into the list above, it would be “Sense of Place.” Few fans would talk up The Voice Bureau brand without mentioning how it makes them feel.
“I wanted a visual brand that felt like it had an old soul while still looking fresh and contemporary.” Abby explains the intended visual style as influenced by vintage modern design, a good balance of masculine and feminine energy, and something that feels “curated and luxe and designed by hand.”
The consistent use of hand-selected elements – from the softened, moody photography, to the aged and natural textures – creates this visual story. The fonts are light and simple, but elaborately detailed in places to suggest that there’s plenty of depth to be explored under the surface. The neutral palette, adorned with signature mustard and burgundy, creates a rich and substantial mood.
Not surprisingly, this luxe atmosphere arises from the language choices as well – packaging up the experience with words like Atelier, Bespoke, Curated, Concierge, and, of course, Bureau.
And it wouldn’t be a fitting review of Abby’s brand without discussing her own Voice Values. She states that they are Power, Excellence, Depth, Clarity, and Legacy or Intimacy, depending on the day (another example of leaving room for flow.)
Nobody can explain them better than Abby. You can find (often amusing) examples of these and every other Voice Value in one of her favorite written pieces: The 16 Voice Values in Action: What They Think, Do, and Say.
If I had to pick just one big inspiration from Abby’s story, it would be her deep and authentically-placed sense of focus. Continuously, she found her flow by drawing perimeters -- by becoming narrower in concept and richer in substance. Perhaps it's time to start drawing some of your own lines in the sand?
What inspires you most about Abby’s example? How does her story resonate with your own experience?