How do your customers perceive your brand?
When it comes to brand perception, the way you communicate and connect with an audience across all your platforms, and the words you use there, is absolutely key.
Your brand tone of voice is a vital part of maintaining a consistent corporate image.
Talking with one coherent voice across all platforms helps to distinguish your business from competitors and connect with audiences.
Every word adds to people’s perception of who you are.
So, how do you decide on your brand’s tone of voice?
Firstly, what IS a brand tone of voice?
Tone of voice describes how you want to communicate with your audience, rather than exactly what you say.
Your brand’s tone of voice represents your brand personality and values and should be distinctive and memorable.
But if the way you communicate confuses, frustrates or scares your audience, you can lose their hard-earned trust and loyalty in seconds.
Take a close look at your current content
A great way to start creating your brand tone of voice is by casting a critical eye over the content you’re currently publishing - everything from videos to blog posts, web pages, ebooks and email newsletters to your social media posts.
Which of those examples could have come from one of your competitors?
Set those aside. Cut down your content examples so you have a small group of pieces unique to your brand – examples of the brand voice you want to embody. This is known as a content audit.
A good tone of voice should allow your audience to recognise your brand by content alone, even if your logo or company name aren’t attached to the content.
Identify your audience profile
Whether you’re creating content for a blog, mailing list, app, homepage, or social post, you need to know who you’re writing for.
You should already have a pretty good idea of what your audience looks like, but the important aspects to consider include age, gender, spending habits, job role and general interests.
Look at what social platforms your customers engage with and at how they interact with their peers, and build a profile of who is buying your products or services.
Language is key
One way to find your feet in creating a tone of voice is to ask yourself what existing brands, companies or publications you are trying to emulate.
Do you want to write in a casual tone? Is your language formal, relaxed or jokey?
Create a document or chart that simply sets out the basics that your team need to know.
For example, BusyCorp Industries is:
DIRECT: Don’t be afraid to share the reality and the truth of what a customer needs.
INFORMATIVE: Be thorough in all the information you share. If you make an industry claim, back it up with statistics and research.
AUTHORITATIVE: We write with a natural tone of authority, share what we know without hesitation and enjoy teaching and sharing our expertise with others.
More detailed guidelines can back this up and offer some specific writing tips and language that should be used or avoided, but you should be able to sum up your basic tone of voice in just a few words.
Ensure everyone in your team understands how to implement your brand voice
Once you have created great tone of voice guidelines, you’re not finished. How do you get everyone in your company comfortable with using them?
Get together with anyone who creates content or communications for you and walk them through your new tone of voice chart.
Look at some examples of content that really nail your tone, and perhaps discuss how you could revise some of your existing content to ‘realign’ it.
You also need to make sure that people in your organisation use the tone of voice document and regularly refer to it by making it easily accessible - for example by putting digital copies on your internal systems, or in print for people to keep at their desk for reference.
Revise your tone of voice as your company changes over time
Once you’ve created a unique, consistent brand voice, creating content should actually become easier.
As your brand messaging evolves or new competitors emerge in your market, it’s a good idea to get your key content creators and communicators together on a regular basis to assess if your tone of voice is still hitting the mark.
If anything has changed with either your business or your rivals, then it may be time for a voice refresh.
Tone of voice can have a major impact on your relationship with your audience and customers, your brand identity and even the overall performance of your business.