When it comes to engaging with your customers, it’s not what you say, but how you say it that really builds a brand, which is where tone-of-voice is key to unlocking the true potential of your business. It plays a pivotal role in your branding strategy, informing every channel from your website to email comms and social media posts, and should be assigned the appropriate resource, talent and investment. Not only does it guarantee stand-out for your brand, but it drives consistency, too, ensuring everyone across every single touchpoint is talking in the same way. Here, we dig into the detail behind tone-of-voice, and reveal why it’s the secret weapon in your marketing strategy.
What is tone-of-voice?
Don’t be the brand that tells writers you don’t have a set of tone-of-voice guidelines. Sending them your brand guidelines or referring them to your blog just isn’t going to cut the mustard. While the look and feel of a brand is certainly impressive – logos, fonts and colour palettes are, of course, a thing of beauty – these visual signifiers for who a brand is and what it stands for are only half of the story. To complete the picture, a look and feel must be supported by guidance around what a business says and how it says it. So, what are the benefits?
The power of personality
Firstly, tone-of-voice can help to reflect your brand category, product and values, as well as representing your expertise, culture and qualities. For consumers, tone-of-voice impacts on how they identify your business, and how they will remember your brand. Crucially, in a sea of competitors – not to mention an increasingly noisy world – tone-of-voice helps deliver all-important cut-through to grab attention and get noticed. Just remember that it’s important to align your tone with your business: for example, if your product or service is smart and sophisticated, talking about it in a fun and playful way might not be the right way to go, and vice versa. Credibility is key.
Getting into character
So, how do you start developing the right tone for your brand? Think of yourself like an actor preparing for a role and ask yourself similar questions. Who am I? Who is my audience? What do I want to make them think, feel and do? Am I convincing? When developing tone-of-voice, ensure it embodies your business and what it stands for, depth and dimension helping to create a meaningful connection with your customers. Ensure there’s a thorough understanding of who they are and choose the right language to engage them. Remember, you can dial up and down different aspects of your tone-of-voice according to the channel, too – more succinct and direct in an email, versus fun and playful on Instagram, for example. Think about the defining qualities of your brand that can be expressed via communications. Are you casual or formal? Aspirational or accessible? Straight-talking or conversational? Together, these strands will help shape your tone-of-voice, while building trust and improving recall with your customers. The aim? Getting closer to them in a way that is authentic and memorable.
Get some guidelines
Once you’ve established your tone-of-voice – something I’ve partnered with Bray St. and their clients on (even their own!) – everything should be captured in a set of useable guidelines to ensure it’s employed correctly and consistently. Usability is crucial here; far too often, brands create guidelines that are long, complicated and unwieldy. No copywriter or stakeholder in their right mind would use these, which completely defeats the object. They need to be digestible and offer at-a-glance guidance. At the heart of them should be a set of principles that inform what your brand stands for and how it communicates this to audiences so your identity and tone marry up. This is the sweet spot.
Missing a tone for your voice? Drop us a line and allow us to help define it.