Picture this: I’m 14 years old, holed up in my room, exploring the ~web~.
I’m doing all the stuff you’d imagine I’d be doing at 14 on the internet in 2009; I’m designing my myspace profile, arranging (and rearranging) my top 8, and making cringey Youtube videos with my best friend Lindsey.
These are core memories.
And generally speaking, the core memories I made from this time in my life revolve around myself and/or the people I knew IRL that I shared the memories with.
Except one person—a Youtuber called MirandaSings.
If you know MirandaSings, then you’re a real one. (And you were likely a theatre queen in high school like myself.) But for those of you who don’t know about her, allow me to explain.
Unlike all the other Youtubers I watched—and I watched a lot, mind you—MirandaSings was a character. She’d do very conceited vlog-style content about being the star in her school’s musical. She’d sing off-key and out of tune and then say stuff like “See? I’m a star.” She’d wear bright red lipstick and part her hair in the middle (before that was cool again).
And in the early days of her channel, people thought she was serious.
Over the years of her channel, the bits became more and more ridiculous, and more and more people caught on that it was a parody of all the obnoxious musical theatre girls we love to hate.
But in the beginning? She let us question it. She leaned into the bit despite the hate she was getting. And it turned into a thriving Youtube channel, which turned into a TV show, and an extremely successful career.
And looking back, it was my first real encounter & understanding of the power of brand voice.
Brand Voice + Video Content = A Recipe for Success
In the online marketing space, we talk a lot about brand voice.
(Long story short, your brand needs one.)
It’s usually talked about it in the context of your website copy, or Instagram captions, or Pinterest pins, or blog, or wherever else.
However, it dawned on me recently that one of the most impactful places that brand voice can come to life is on TikTok & Reels. And if you’re not seeing the growth you’d like to see on your video platforms, then maybe making a bolder choice would help!
(My acting training is really coming in clutch here.)
So without further ado, here are 5 TikTok creators with *very specific* and *very successful* brand voices. I hope they inspire you to think outside of the box about the content you create on video, and maybe in your writing as well.
Ever been curious about what an Artificial Intelligence robot might think about pop culture issues? Then look no further than Danisha Carter.
Danisha is not actually a robot. (Although someone recently thought she was, genuinely.) But her content is certainly a choice, and one that she’s almost certainly made intentionally.
Danisha’s whole thing on TikTok is looking objectively at whatever conflict is happening—be it the Adam Levine cheating scandal, Jeffrey Dahmer, and influencer scandals—and weighs in with her opinions after carefully inspecting at all sides of the issue. (Personally, I love following Danisha and usually agree with her takes.)
While her AI-style of content is not the only reason she curates her brand voice this way, (and if I’m honest, I’m not sure if she would even define it as a brand) it’s effective and different. And people listen. But beyond that, on an app where opinions run rampant, it’s an excellent example of how to stand out.
The VIP List
When people ask me about how to become successful on TikTok, I almost always say you have to show your face, be on video, and cultivate a personal community. Unless, of course, you’re The VIP List.
In stark contrast to creators like Danisha Carter and the others on this list, The VIP List is a food blog that rarely shows their faces. They rely almost solely on quick shots of food dishes at the hottest restaurants in NYC for their video visuals.
But their iconic (and satirical) narration? Hard to forget.
Here’s a quick bullet-point list of what they’ve said at the top of their last 5 videos. (Pretend you’re reading this in the most obnoxious, egotistical rich girl voice that you can imagine.)
- “Since you’re too poor to afford Cipriano, we have a life hack for all you peasants.”
- “If the restaurant doesn’t have to extend your table, do us all a favor and stick to the dollar menu.”
- “If you haven’t been to American bar, you’re 100% irrelevant.”
- “Apparently these are the best biscuits in New York City? I’ve had better at Popeyes.”
- “Since you could never brunch at Sadelle’s, we decided to go and remind you how much of a peasant you are.”
Like MirandaSings, The VIP List created quite a stir online for a minute. People absolutely haaaaated them, because they thought they were serious. And now? They have a loyal following of fans who feel like they’re in on the bit.
(Also, my BF and I usually use their reccomendations when we’re looking for a fancy place to go celebrate something.)
You might have read this far and thought to yourself, “Okay, sure; being ultra bitchy & obnoxious or ultra robotic might work for some people, but I just can’t see myself doing anything like either of those two examples.”
Then perhaps you might look into Nimay Ndolo, whose extremely high-energy content style has won a following of over 800K.
No matter what she’s talking about—her day, something happening in pop culture, or just a funny bit—Nimay uses close-ups, chaos, and movement to her benefit, and the audience stays watching.
(Plus, she just seems like a delightful human being, on top of that.)
Every time I see her videos, I wonder what it might look like for someone to do educational business content in this way.
If you’ve been on TikTok in the last 6 months, then there’s a good chance you already know Dylan Mulvaney. Known for her “Days of Being a Girl” series, Dylan rose to TikTok fame when she came out as trans and started documenting living her life as a girl for the first time ever.
8 million fans later, Dylan’s working with powerhouse brand names, stylists, photographers, you name it. (It’s so freaking cool to watch!)
But one of her biggest differentiators in the creator space?
Her brand voice!
Dylan brings a girl-ish, almost ingenue-like energy to her video content, which is refreshing on an app full of often nihilist viewpoints. Whether she’s talking about her dating life, walking a red carpet, or continuing her well-known series, every video has a sense of bubblegum hope and positive vibes.
(If her brand voice were a color, it would be a light pink!)
Brand Voice Applies to More than Just Websites and IG Captions
In fact, even moreso. In a world where much of the online content we see is video-based (i.e. TikTok, Reels, etc), what does that mean for brand voice? It’s no longer limited to just copy & writing—it’s verbal and energy-based now, too.
And while wild choices like these might not work for every brand, it’s still a fun experiment.
How might you incorporate (and even enhance) the best parts of your voice & energy in video form? How might your brand become almost a caricature of itself?
I bet your view count will surprise you.
For more info about how to get started on TikTok, take my free webinar, Grow on TikTok.
Hey, I'm Sarah Kleist.
Brand builder, website designer, and performing artist on a mission to help creatives and business owners step into their digital spotlight.
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