The way you communicate with your audience is important. It helps ensure you attract your target audience, establish relationships and get across any messages that you intend to communicate to your customers and the rest of the world.
Identifying, creating and implementing your own brand’s tone of voice is key but just like anything in business, it’s a process. The more time you spend developing and solidifying your tone of voice, the more effective it will be in boosting your revenue and reaching more people.
In this guide, you’ll learn more about tone of voice, what it is and why setting a tone is important. As well as identifying your brand’s tone of voice, you’ll gain knowledge of how to create the guidelines and implementing your brand’s voice across the business.
Table of Contents
What is tone of voice or brand voice?
A brand voice or tone of voice is a style that’s used to communicate with your audience. It’s the choice of words you use and the style that you approach with, whether it be formal in tone or chatty and down-to-earth.
The choice of your tone will depend on your brand and how you would like it to be perceived by others. This is something that you’ll want to keep consistent across all parts of your branding where communication is given.
There’s a slight difference between tone of voice and brand voice though. With brand voice, the style stays the same across all of your communications whereas tone of voice will change depending on what scenario you’re dealing with and who you’re speaking to.
Why tone of voice is important
With 86% of consumers saying that authenticity is important when deciding what brands they like and support, tone of voice plays an essential role. After all, you want your customers to be able to trust you because they’re then more likely to convert to a paying customer. So why is tone of voice so important?
It shows the consumers who you are
Tone of voice is a great way to advertise yourself as a business. Depending on who you’re trying to attract will determine the style of tone you approach with. It helps communicate who you are as a brand and how you present yourself as a brand online and offline.
If you’re targeting a younger audience, then your tone of voice will likely be more conversational, whereas if you’re catering to businesses a more formal tone will be needed. Your tone of voice is very telling when you’re showing the consumers who you are as a business.
Builds trust and loyalty
Trust and loyalty to your brand is critical nowadays, especially as 55% of customers now trust companies less than they used to. Therefore, building trust is now more important than ever before and focusing on tone of voice can certainly help with that. When you create a tone of voice, your consumers start to build up a profile of who you are as a business.
Developing that consistency through your tone of voice will help build trust and make you more recognisable across all your social media platforms.
Makes you different to your competitors
Standing out from the crowd is definitely important in this day and age, particularly when you’re up against a lot of competition. The way you communicate, whether it be very outspoken or passionately, will influence how others see you. The more unique you are, the more that can make you different from your competitors.
Your business as a whole should be easily distinguishable so that you’re not confused with some other company.
Provides influence over your customers
Gaining the trust and loyalty of your customers is one thing but then influencing them to make a purchase or complete a CTA is a lot harder. However, the tone of voice you use can have an influence over whether or not they choose to buy from you.
As a business, it makes sense to spend time on developing your tone of voice to make it more approachable and effective in securing more customers.
The importance of creating tone of voice guidelines for your business
In order to keep all your employees and those that are a part of the business on the same page, guidelines are an important part of creating tone of voice.
Are you able to say that all of your employees know the tone of voice for the business and execute it in everything they do? Whether that’s through blog content to email newsletters and social media posts, consistency is key. Guidelines can help ensure everyone has the same understanding and knowledge required when communicating with the company’s tone of voice.
All your employees are singing from the same hymn sheet
When you set up guidelines, you’re creating an official document that all your employees will have access to. As the saying goes, your employees will therefore be signing from the same hymn sheet. There’s less confusion and error in how they use it.
Employees appreciate having more clarification in their job, especially when it comes to representing the brand, either online or in-person.
Customers like a recognisable personality that’s consistent
Customers like consistency and a recognisable personality when it comes to branding. It’s important that the customer instantly recognises your brand, simply from the tone of voice you use.
Staying consistent is also going to help the customer remember you. Did you know it takes between 5 to 7 impressions for consumers to remember a brand? So if you’re trying to boost your reputation as a company, being consistent in this area can certainly help.
It helps you come across more put together and professional
Professionalism is important, especially when defining your brand image. Customers want the best experience when shopping with a brand or engaging with it in some way. If they’re met with anything less, they’ll likely generate a negative attitude towards your company.
A company’s reputation is influenced by the overall satisfaction your consumers have for your brand, so it’s worthwhile having proper guidelines in place.
How to identify your brand’s voice in 4 steps
When it comes to identifying your brand’s voice, it’s all about your audience. Knowing who your audience is will help to identify the type of voice you use too. According to a report made by Salesforce, 66% of customers expect brands to understand them and their needs as well as any expectations they have.
So from the products or services you offer to the communication methods you use, it’s all contributing to the customer’s journey and experience with the brand.
1. Get to know your audience through research
In order to get your brand tone of voice, you should begin with research and getting to know your audience. You want to treat each and every customer as an individual and not just as a number. It’s important to do the research so that you can adapt the content to suit the various personas of your audience.
You can utilise platforms like Google Analytics to track the traffic coming in and out of your website. Social media platforms hold a lot of data and information on your audience and it’s all available for free.
Building up a well-research persona or personas can help you communicate with your audience in the right manner.
2. Find out where they are and what they’re engaging with
Getting data on your audience is one thing but finding out where they are is another. In order to identify your brand voice, it’s useful to look at where your audience is and what they’re already engaging with.
It’s worth doing market research on consumer generations whether that be the Baby Boomers, Millennials or Gen Z. Each generation can be different in what social media platforms they’re on or what mediums of communication they prefer to receive. Using online tools and software to find what your target audience is looking at, can be helpful.
Mention is a good example of brand monitoring for your business as it can track any mentions of your brand or anything in relation to what you provide as a product or service.
3. Look at how they’re interacting online and offline.
It’s important to look at your audience and what they’re already doing online and offline. You can find a lot of information from your social media handles and exploring social media as a whole. In-person, you can look at where your customers are choosing to shop and whether there are similarities in their purchasing preferences.
You can learn a lot from their interactions and how you approach them when interacting with them.
4. Get feedback on their opinion of your brand.
You can only improve on your brand when the flaws are highlighted. It’s not always something you recognise yourself in business and so it’s important to reach out to your network of existing customers who already know your brand.
They are the focal point for getting feedback and as a business, you should be open to receiving critiques, even if it’s something you don’t act or choose to take on board. Improving your brand tone of voice requires refinement and guidance from your existing customers can help with that.
Creating your tone of voice guidelines
A tone of voice guideline needs to include an introduction to your brand’s tone of voice and values. There are many tone of voice types, whether it’s humorous, conversational, formal for example.
Some brands can also have a mix, so it’s worth clarifying this early on. They should explain what they stand for and how they go towards supporting your company’s objectives and goals.
There should also be detailed and practical support that explains how to use tone of voice across all your platforms. The more clear and concise it is, the better. Here are a few tips for creating your tone of voice guidelines.
1) Make a list of all your communications channels
You’ll want to section out your guidelines into different categories of communication, whether that’s email, your website or social media platforms. Each one may tailor to a slightly different tone of voice. With that being said, it’s a good idea to break it down into sections so it’s easily readable for the user.
2) Highlight the tonal values that apply to each channel
As mentioned above, not every channel is going to have the same tonal values as others, so it’s important to clarify and highlight any changes between one platform and another. Consider what tonal values are the main character and others that are supporting roles within that channel.
3) Write best-practice tone of voice examples
Not every employee will work in the same way. Some enjoy written or practical examples as opposed to just giving an explanation of what you want to achieve. Written examples are something you can incorporate into the guidelines and can offer best-practice when creating content or communications.
Implementing your brand’s voice across the business
So now that you have your guidelines written up, it’s time to implement your brand’s voice across the business. It’s important to consider what that means and how these guidelines might change and adapt as the brand itself grows and develops.
Share them with your team
The most obvious step to take when implementing your guidelines across the business is by sharing them with your team. There are many ways to do this but you may want to make it more easily accessible than simply sending it via an email that ends up getting lost in the noise.
Shared drives like Google Drive can be a great place to store the document and to provide easy access for anyone who needs it, regardless of where they are. This can be handy for a business that has remote workers operating outside of the workplace.
For the brand tone of voice, you want to remain consistent and that means introducing the guidelines to those who aren’t yet using them. There might be some that need a reminder of the guidelines and others who are new starters and haven’t yet seen them.
Keep them updated
Finally, keep the document updated and see it as a working document, rather than a final one. Your brand’s voice and tone of voice may change slightly at various points, so it’s good to be able to update it on a shared drive, rather than having to send out a new and updated document each time three’s a change.
Invest in your voice as a business
Time and attention on your business tone of voice or brand voice are essential nowadays. It can help you stand out amongst the competition and helps with converting more leads into customers through regular and consistent interactions. The way you communicate with consumers can influence a lot of the success and growth for your business.
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