If you’ve ever attended a training session for young or beginner businessmen and businesswomen, you’re sure to have heard about the importance of Tone of Voice. Most likely, the speaker mentioned how the Tone of Voice paints the general picture of the company and the people behind it, and how it helps to build trust in the long run.
Most of what they say about Tone of Voice is indeed true, but how exactly can you make a comprehensive plan and stick to it in order to build brand identity through audience-tailored content?
Let’s find out about the four essentials when researching Tone of Voice for your business.
The brand persona is your “who” of the general question about the Tone of Voice. It’s the picture you’re trying to paint about your own company.
For example, the brand persona can be mature and serious, or it could be young and friendly. All of this should be considered based on your choice of audience. For example, talking to Millenials with a serious tone even if you’re in a “mature” industry may not be the best decision in your marketing strategy. It all comes down to understanding what your audience wants to see when they see your posts, what they see the company as and what they associate with your brand.
One example of this could be Wendy’s social media marketing stunts which were a great success while they lasted. The brash, daring and overall down-to-earth manner that their Twitter campaign had was a great contrast for their general welcoming and friendly tone of voice. By incorporating this contrast, they not only managed to cover a wider range of audiences but also seemed like a company that understood the language of the consumer.
The tone itself
The tone itself is paramount for reinforcing the brand persona. For example, you can’t build the persona of a friendly, down-to-earth and welcoming brand and then ruin it with an unmatching tone of voice. An unmatching tone here would be a distant and professional manner of speaking to the customer. It’s hard to emphasize in English, but various languages use the plural form of pronouns to address somebody in a polite form, which completely destroys any former emphasis on friendliness and openness.
Treating a customer as a customer rather than a person takes all of the emotional connection to the band out of the picture and doesn’t render the “transaction” memorable or thought-inducing. It usually simply ends there with the customer paying and leaving, which is a terrible note to end with as they’ll be much more easy to sway by the competitors.
The language used
It’s impossible to find your tone of voice if you can’t choose the words you’ll be using during the conversation. If you use complicated and long words, there’s a chance you’ll alienate your customer base if you’re trying to form a casual brand persona.
However, if you use dumbed down short sentences with no emotion behind them, it will feel quite dull as well.
That’s why using the correct language is so hard even for smaller companies or blogs even if they don’t have that much of a brand presence.
One primary example I could bring in this case is this Russian site that explains finances in a funny manner. It is a great example because it introduces another issue when searching for the language to form the tone of voice. Industry prejudice also plays a large role in your decisions.
For example, this website focuses on the financial industry, which is mostly associated with a serious tone, with professional and mature language alongside a sophisticated brand persona. When you think about stocks, commodities, and money in general, you’ll usually see a man in a suit with a phone in his hands as that’s the prejudice that the industry has created about finances.
Introducing a contrast to all of it and alleviating all of the stress from the serious tone, helps the readers and the customers relax with your content, giving you a much more desirable association with positiveness.
Basically what the site does is it says what investors always want to say about finances, or would have said in a casual circumstance.
Furthermore, it’s a direct way to target a younger audience which is pretty much the next wave of the largest consumers in the world. For younger audiences, especially Millenials, a serious tone from a company is usually a red flag, as they get the idea that they’re trying to sell them something (which they indeed are, but aren’t trying to infuse it with emotion).
Having such a casual tone of voice gives the younger audiences the chance to understand the intricacies of a complicated industry and introduce them to it, whether or not they were planning to.
In most cases, some customers avoid a product because they don’t understand it. All it takes is the correct language to connect with them and make them interested.
The purpose is also a major determinant of how your copy will sound once you publish it. Believe it or not, the audience can always feel what you’re trying to achieve through your social media posts or advertisements online.
Usually, when the purpose is sales-oriented, it’s immediately felt by the audience and is sometimes opposed. Therefore it’s best to mask the sales-oriented goal through friendly tips and information.
For example, what small-time bloggers do is that they go for content marketing. Usually, they’ll use large articles about topics people search or try to find out about. The way the sale is masked is that it’s surrounded by useful information.
For financial bloggers like the example above that could be the explanation of the industry itself or an engaging piece that provides knowledge that most didn’t have before.
For a company selling products, the sales-oriented purpose can be hidden behind brand recognition, which means constant posts and engagement with individual customers. Approaching as many consumers as possible individually ramps up the likelihood of them making a purchase.
For newer companies though, the purpose should always be to raise awareness and provide legitimacy to the product. This could be an informational copy for a social media post or an engaging announcement that calls the readers to action.
Overall, the purpose is quite versatile. You can both start and end your Tone of Voice strategy with it and have a massive effect.
So what is Tone of Voice?
Let’s now try and break down all of the paragraphs above into easy to read small sentenced bullet points so that they’re much easier to understand.
- Brand Persona – The “Who”. Who are you painting yourself to be?
- The Tone – The “How”. Are you speaking to customers as friends or as strangers?
- The Language – The “What”. What words are you using to communicate? Will the audience understand you?
- The Purpose – The “Why”. Why are you making this campaign? What’s your end goal?
By answering all of the questions above, any company can create a comprehensive Tone of Voice and tailor it for their specific audience.
It is by far the best method for structuring the strategy and executing it with pin-point accuracy.