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Developing the right tone of voice for your business

Updated: Dec 15, 2020

Tone of voice is essentially the written ‘personality’ of your brand. It is a crucial part of achieving integrated messaging across all of your communications, spelling out who you are, what you do and what you stand for.

People are often very keen to have a consistent look and feel to the design of their business, across their stationery, signage, website or advertising, but often overlook the importance of making sure that the content within of all these media channels sings from the same hymn sheet.

Why is written tone of voice so important?

Consistent tone of voice is a powerful way for clients to recognise your company or brand and solid, consistent messaging will make you appear more professional and trustworthy. It is vital that you explain and communicate what your company values mean for your brand. An inconsistent tone of voice gives a confusing and contradictory impression.

How to define your tone of voice

If you can succinctly summarise your brand values, along with an explanation of how they translate into writing style, this will be a hugely valuable process in establishing your tone of voice. You should ideally create guidelines full of practical pointers, such as words to use and words to avoid, and lots of examples that show how your tone of voice works in different contexts, from a web page to a mailshot.

It’s worth investing time and effort to accurately define your tone of voice so you may want to consider the following questions:

· Does it support and align to my brand values?

· Is it in tune with what my audience wants to hear?

· Does it fit with the ‘natural’ voice of the company?

· Will it engage and motivate employees and customers alike?

· Will it help build trust in, and recognition of, my business?

· Will it differentiate me from the competition?

Tone of voice examples

You should think about a range of words that best suit your brand – almost assessing the personality of your brand or company, as if it were a person.

Vocabulary is simply the choice of words, so you must ascertain what type of words can and can’t be used within your tone of voice so that your content embodies the ‘personality’ of the business. For example, is it formal, reassuring, approachable, authoritative or down-to-earth?

The ‘personality’ examples below may give you some initial ideas about how to approach your tone of voice strategy:

Direct or straightforward: no matter how all-singing and all-dancing your branding might be, clients may just want their interactions with you to be simple and low-effort.

Helpful or supportive: including values like ‘helpful’ or ‘supportive’ in your tone of voice can enhance the user experience and encourage more calls to action.

Constructive or positive: these kind of values help to convey a message that prioritises customer service and focuses on problem-solving.

One final word of warning – do not fall into the trap of pretending to have values that you actually don’t. Your cover will undoubtedly be blown! If you are honest, consistent and accurate in your tone of voice, you can’t go far wrong.

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