Leading companies design their marketing strategies around the idea of a strong, consistent, and recognisable brand. Building a definite personality of your brand includes finding your company’s tone of voice. Despite its name, the tone of voice isn’t only about the way you speak. Keep reading to find out what is a tone of voice and how to build it properly.
What is the company’s tone of voice?
The tone of voice is all about how you say something rather than what you say. It’s a reflection of your brand’s personality through written or verbal words. A company’s tone of voice can be followed throughout its website, email, advertising, and social media.
Why is it important to create your tone of voice?
It helps to connect with the customer since a company becomes more approachable, more human. The company’s tone of voice transmits not only what a company does, but also makes a brand more personal. It represents the values of a brand, and that’s what speaks to the customers. Also, since there are fewer opportunities to talk to the customers in person, the tone of voice can replace face-to-face communication.
It helps prospects to get to know your brand before making a purchase. It also builds the company’s authority and personality by showing confidence in the words customers listen to or read. If crafted properly, your tone can improve your readership and rankings. And most importantly, a well-developed tone of voice makes your brand distinctive and unique. Most companies make a huge mistake when they don’t transform the way they use language. If you want to be different and recognisable, use these three tips when building your company’s tone of voice.
1. Assess your current tone of voice
Start developing your tone of voice with evaluation. Ask yourself whether your current tone of voice works for or against you? If you’ve never asked yourself this question, it’s most likely that your current tone of voice is either serious and heavy or messy, because you’ve got a lot of writers with different voices.
Try reading pieces of your content out loud, and imagine a person who’s speaking. Does this person match the desired representation of your brand?
2. How do you want to sound?
When crafting your company’s tone of voice, it’s crucial to imagine the impression you want to make on anyone who reads or hears you. Think and come up with five words that describe how you want your brand to sound. Try to avoid overused words like ‘friendly’, ‘reliable’, or ‘dynamic’.
These qualities are important, but they’re all cliché and won’t make you stand out in any way. Don’t be afraid to get creative and use unexpected words. Think of your brand’s tone of voice from the perspective of the following concepts.
- Casual vs Formal
- Funny vs Serious
- Conversational vs Educational
It’s also useful to go through your company’s origin story. Remember that you’re looking to establish the differences between you and your competitors. Think about your core values and how they can be translated into words. Build a bridge between your corporate values and your tone through language.
Another great strategy is reading the About pages of famous brands, and evaluate their tones. For instance, when you go to Starbucks’ website, it says that “Every day, we go to work hoping to do two things: share great coffee with our friends and help make the world a little better. It was true when the first Starbucks opened in 1971, and it’s just as true today.” Notice how they use informal, friendly, and appealing tone to connect with their readers.
3. Choose the language forms carefully and strategically
The language you use in your content gives your brand its own distinct and recognisable voice. It’s important to design your content in a way that your audience hears the same person speaking, even if you have multiple writers. Here are some language forms to consider when writing for the Web.
- Word and sentence length. Shorter words make your writing more clear and concise. When it comes to the tone of voice, short words convey simplicity and directness, while longer ones suggest more sophistication. Shorter sentences imply a concise style, unlike the longer ones that are more decorous and calm.
- Colloquialisms and Slang. Colloquialisms are the informal words and phrases we use in our day-to-day life. The implication of the term may vary because the ‘casual’ communication is flexible and different for all of us. If you want your readers to feel more relaxed and laid-back while staying informative and descriptive, adopt some extra words or phrases that you’d use in a casual conversation.
You can also employ jargon, the language peculiar to a particular profession. Buzzwords, for example, are the jargon terms that suggest novelty. The examples of the popular buzzwords are ‘net neutrality’, ‘big data’, ‘chatbots’, ‘data mining’, and ‘millennials.’ Only employ them if you know that your audience understands and uses the words themselves.
- Pronouns. Pronouns are words that replace nouns. The pronouns you choose to refer to your brand have a big effect on your tone of voice. If you want to position yourself as a group of people, use the first person ‘we’. The third person (like ‘Wordtracker’) is more detached and isolated, and positions you as a professional company.
- Contractions. Contraction is a shortened form of a word or group of words. They are usually formed of two words combined into one. Most people use contractions in casual texts, but avoid them in formal language, especially when writing for professional or academic purposes like writing thesis, dissertations or research papers. The common examples of contractions are ‘you’re’, ‘isn’t’, ‘let’s’, etc. When it comes to your tone of voice, using contraction will make you sound more relaxed, casual, and accessible. If you want to stay formal and precise, avoid using them. When speaking to the audience through the writing, you can use either second person ‘you’ or the third person ‘customers’ or ‘clients’. The third person is more abstract, whereas the second person is more engaging and personal.
- Clichés. Clichés are overused expressions, sentences or phrases that express a common or popular idea. Some words that were once new buzzwords are now overused and outdated clichés. Words like ‘solution’, ‘passionate’, ‘leverage’, and ‘impactful’ do speak to the point, but if you use them, you’ll end up sounding like everyone else in the industry. Try to fund synonyms or rephrase your point, it might take some time and effort, but having your unique and different voice is worth it.
Your tone of voice may vary from time to time if your purposes require that flexibility. Evaluating your current tone of voice and decide how you want to sound. Think about your audience, the media platform you use, and the goal you’re pursuing. Your tone of voice should be consistent, unique, and recognisable in any piece of content you produce.
Build a bridge between your corporate values and your tone and convert them into writing. Always look for the point of difference between you and your competitors. The language forms will help you convey your message and highlight your tone. Remember that creating a unique tone of voice is a process, a journey. Make sure your writers follow along and use your tone in every piece of content they make.