Getting your brand's tone of voice right - Continuity is key
Have you ever been told that it’s not just ‘what you say’ but it’s ‘how you say it’ that matters? Well, it’s true. Your tone of voice can communicate a plethora of emotions and motivations behind the words, but when we write words down, or don’t speak them ourselves, things can get lost in translation.
Have you ever got a text or message that just says ‘fine’ in response to a question? What does that mean? If that person were in front of you, they would be able to communicate their intentions through body language, facial expressions, and tone of voice whether they are being sincere and saying that it really is fine, or sarcastic, or pithy. When it’s written down, you lose all the other aspects of communication which we rely on to gauge emotion and intention.
Believe it or not, your writing has a tone. All writing has a purpose, whether to inform, persuade, encourage, amuse, or to question, your tone plays a part in the effect your writing has on a reader. So, to know what sort of tone would best fit your business, you must first identify your company’s brand. Your brand is the image you want to project. How do you want people to see you? Are you a warm, friendly, family run business or a professional business firm with laser sharp focus? It does matter because you need to know how your company needs to come across through their word content and make sure it is suited to your ideal customer.
For example, it’s no good to sound aloof and unapproachable if you run an independent adult toy shop. You deal in discretion and naughty jokes. Therefore cheeky, yet knowledgeable with a non-judgmental tone would suit your brand and your customers much better. If you want to resonate with your potential customers then you need to make sure that all content is aimed at them, is suitable for them, and engages them. Otherwise, they’re just wasted words.
Consistency is key when it comes to tone of voice. You can’t sound witty and self-deprecating on one page of your website if your content seems to the point and no-nonsense on the next. It doesn’t make sense and whether the reader knows it or not they’ll become suspicious of your company through inconsistencies with your brand. A potential customer needs to feel that they understand your values and know that you are a sincere, reliable company. Inconsistent tone of voice doesn’t say that. It says that you don’t pay attention to detail which plants doubts about what else you might not pay attention to. Not a good way to begin.
It’s not just the content on your website that needs to be written in a consistent tone of voice which is appropriate for your brand. Everything you write should be consistent with your tone of voice and brand. From your social media posts to your business flyers, all should have a consistent tone and use of language. If you’re a small dog grooming parlour in a rural area, you’re probably going to want to ditch any language that seems overly formal or technical because it will disconnect you from your customers. The odd canine inspired pun would be fine in that situation. Then again, if you have a veterinary practice, you’re going to want to come across as compassionate yet professional and capable of looking after valued pets in their time of need.
We’ve mentioned dog related jokes, but humour is a real consideration in your content. Is your ideal customer going to respond to jokes coming from you or would they not fit your brand? If humour is not appropriate for your products or services then keep it simple, clear and concise. If you’re a solicitor specialising in family law and divorce, then humour is not in any way appropriate for your brand. No one wants a clown handling the future of their kids on the worst day of their lives. So be smart with your humour.
Deearo Marketing are always here and happy to help you narrow down your brand and make sure your tone of voice is correctly aligned with your typical customer. The takeaway from this is to double check that all written content for your business is using the same tone of voice. This can be especially challenging if more than one person has written it, but it is worth paying attention to. When in doubt, get your computer to read the text aloud so you can hear it being spoken without the inflections and tones in your own mind interpreting it. You don’t know how another person may take the words you’ve written so an impartial voice reading it can really help you spot any discrepancies.
If you need help assessing your brand, then see our previous blog post about brand transparency or this one on brand authenticity. Or for any other marketing enquires or content queries you can contact us here.