The way you choose to communicate with people is vitally important. It can be the difference between someone resonating with what you’re saying or misunderstanding your message completely.
Striking this balance is of particular relevance when addressing your brand’s tone of voice. Get it right and you’ll form a bond between your brand and customers that’ll be hard to break. Get it wrong and you’ll alienate those you wish to reach.
So, what constitutes a winning tone of voice? Here are some things to ponder…
Get to know your target audience
Taking a blind stab in the dark is unlikely to resonate with your target audience. You need to know what makes them tick, what drives them to purchase. What do your audience expect of you? If you’re in the funeral care business, it’s unlikely that a cheeky-chappy online persona will impress your clientele. Understanding your target audience inside and out will help you communicate more effectively with them.
Write how you speak
This may go against everything you were taught at school, but seriously, write how you speak! Keep things conversational! If you wouldn’t say it aloud don’t write it down. Imagine all the communications your brand puts it name to and ask whether someone without your level of knowledge would be able to understand whatever it is you’re trying to convey. If the answer is no, it should be refined.
You may have decided on what feels like a winning tone of voice, but it goes without saying that it isn’t a one-size-fits-all-solution. Subtle differences and cultural considerations need to be made when venturing into international markets, as Marketing Week notes. While a British audience place importance on not seeming ‘stuffy’, a German audience may value a more formal tone. Tone of voice is a great indicator of a brand’s understanding of local cultural markets and values.
Don’t be rigid with it
Even if you’ve agreed on a set tone of voice going forward, don’t be inflexible. Your tone of voice should be adapted depending on who you are talking to and what you’re talking about. A jovial tone may suit a new product release but if the product is recalled due to safety concerns, a more serious and empathetic tone should be adopted.
Remain true to yourself
In the age of social media, it can be tempting to jump on the bandwagon and tailor your communications to be ‘hip’ or ‘down with the kids’. Stop. Stop right there. This attempt to appeal to a wider demographic will only backfire. This sort of language can appear inauthentic and is likely to be easily discarded by customers. Be yourself and own it.
BREAK THE RULES!!
Rules are there to be broken – no one remembers the person that played by the rules! This approach can be extended to your brand’s tone of voice. It’s no longer enough to be a bit quirky, brands must do more! Reinvent the way you speak. Tear up the rulebook and write your own. An unconventional use of vocabulary, phrasing or punctuation can make your copy unforgettable.
Tone of voice doesn’t only make you stand out from the crowd; it helps your audience know what you stand for. By developing a distinct and appropriate tone of voice, you can humanise your brand in the eyes of customers. Once it has been established, make sure it’s taken on by everyone within your organisation as failure to do so will render your new tone of voice useless.
Which brands do you think have nailed their tone of voice? Tweet us @otbtweeter with your examples and thoughts.