You might think you know how all of your messages come across to your audience and how your audience interprets them. If you're the only person carrying out your marketing, it's likely that all of your writing is consistent. But how do you achieve the same consistency if you have multiple people within your marketing department?
If more than one person is writing your content, it's important to have a defined tone of voice so that everyone is singing from the same hymn sheet.
What's the difference between Brand Voice and Brand Tone of Voice? A brand voice is the overall personality of your brand and the unique perspectives and values that it stands for.
Your brand tone of voice differs from this and is how your brand communicates with its audience, including word choice, communication style, and any emotions conveyed.
Why is it important for my brand to have a tone of voice?
While you might think it doesn't matter how your writing sounds to your audience, you might be surprised.
Your brand tone of voice can convey your brand values and the personality of those working behind the scenes. If these values align with the values of your audience, they are more likely to use your services or products.
You can also use your tone of voice to set yourself apart from your competition. For example, if the majority of your competition uses a lot of jargon and technical terms, you can use your writing to clear up these terms and make it so that everyone can understand the content of your writing. You can then become known for being the brand that's easily understandable.
Using your tone of voice in this way can also help to build trust with your audience. They know you're not trying to hide things with the way that you're writing.
Also, if your audience becomes familiar with your tone of voice, they may come to trust in that familiarity.
How can I convey my tone of voice?
When you start writing, whether in marketing materials or for your blog, you are developing a tone of voice for your brand.
When there's only one of you writing content for your brand, it can be easy to keep it consistent, but how do you keep this consistency when multiple people write content for the same brand?
This is where you need to start thinking about how you can convey your tone of voice to others.
While you might think it just means listing all the values for your company in your brand guidelines, it's not always that simple. After all, how can you convey an entire tone of voice with a word like "dynamic" or "friendly"?
1. Define your core values
You might think that when defining your core values, you only need to list the words you want to be associated with; however, there is more to it than that.
Your core values are what you want your brand to be centred around, such as being creative and open-minded. While you can leave your core values as just a list of words, explaining what they mean to you is better. You can also give examples of how your content embraces these ideas and how you can show them to your audience.
As a part of defining your core values, you can also set out what makes you different from the competition. What makes you unique in your industry and lets you stand out from the rest?
Don't forget to give examples of things which oppose your core values. For example, we are not unapproachable and don't hide behind jargon. You can see this in the way that we always use simple language and make our content understandable to everyone.
2. Define your brand's tone of voice
Once you know why you're doing what you're doing, you can start to define how you're going to do it.
Are you going to embrace your mistakes by making jokes about them and being funny, or are you going to break through using jargon by using cold-hard facts?
Should I be formal or friendly? Whether you're friendly or formal will depend on your business and how you want your brand to come across to your audience. Your audience may believe you to be impersonal if your writing is too formal. But, on the other hand, if you're too friendly, your audience may think you're unprofessional.
Should I be funny or serious? You might think you want to break the mould by being funny, but not all industries will allow this to happen. At the end of the day, consider whether your potential customers would appreciate a sense of humour when choosing your brand; I mean, a funny funeral director would be a very niche market.
3. Watch your audience
No, you don't need to get the binoculars out.
We mean finding your customers on social media and seeing how they interact with different businesses and with each other. Take some notes about what they're saying and how they're saying it. If there are any trends, you might be able to use these when planning your content in the future.
If you find that your audience talks in a friendly manner, using the occasional joke, then you can use this and mirror it in the future. It makes your brand relatable, which can lead to an increase in sales.
Just keep in mind that terms used and feelings about products evolve over time, so you'll have to keep on top of this with regular reviews to ensure it's still relevant.
My audience swears, should I? While it's rare to find a company that regularly swears in its communications, this can be a good thing in small measures.
It can let you stand out with your writing.
However, you need to ensure you don't take it too far and come off as offensive. Sometimes mild swearing, such as "hell" and "damn", can lead to feelings of honesty from your audience.
While you can use swearing to add a shock factor, this will diminish over time, especially with overuse. So be careful with the amount of swearing you're going to use if you choose to use it.
But to hell with it all, sometimes you just need to swear.
4. Create and implement guidelines
Most companies keep their tone of voice guidelines within their brand guidelines.
Your brand guidelines should be updated every so often, especially if you notice a change in your target audience and how they expect your brand to be portrayed through your writing.
As a rule of thumb, your brand guidelines should include the following when it comes to tone of voice:
- A definition of your target audience and what they would expect from you
- Your brand's attitude (are you funny or serious?)
- Your core values
- Vocabulary you should be using
- Vocabulary you should be avoiding
- Grammar rules
5. Make sure you have something to say
When you write content, you need to make sure you're putting your ideas forward, not just recycling content from elsewhere.
If all of your competition are positioning themselves as having "the softest slippers", why don't you position yourself as "keeping toes cosy during cold winter nights"?
Wording such as this comes under the rule of show, not tell. You should show your audience how your brand solves their problems rather than telling them how you will.
If you've made it this far, congratulations!
Hopefully, you've learned something about your brand's tone of voice.
Just remember, this isn't a one-size-fits-all solution how your brand sounds will ultimately be up to you and your industry.
Just remember to listen to your audience and use your brand's tone of voice to build trust with them.