As legend has it, Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, William S.Burroughs, Neal Cassady and Lawrence Ferlinghetti were struggling, young writers who spent their days pumping out poems and novels that they couldn’t get published, and their nights commiserating in Greenwich Village, listening to jazz.

Finally, one night, after a particularly rousing set by Charlie “Bird” Parker, someone in the group–some say it was Kerouac, and others Cassady–had an epiphany, and posed the question to his chums: What if we try to write the way that Bird sounds?”

The young writers found their voice that night, and of course went on to become the Beat Poets, who were as iconic as any literary figures in 20th century American literature.

Content doesn’t have to rise to the level of literature to be effective, of course, but it doesn’t hurt to find the voice that best articulates your brand’s unique personality and its most grandiose ambitions. A lot of that depends on who your target audience is and what most inspires confidence in your brand–an interior decorator might speak in a whimsical, or even eccentric voice, while a law or tax accounting firm probably wants to communicate a sober authority–but the process for identifying the voice that works best for you is formless and fungible.

And yet, the best way to start the process is to do what those five struggling writers did on a night in Greenwich Village nearly 70 years ago:

Listen.