In the world of marketing the phrase “Tone of Voice” is most commonly associated with copywriting, but when it comes to brand strategy your tone of voice is far more than just your writing style – it can have a big impact on your business if you get it wrong.
The tone of voice you choose for your business is an integral part of your overall brand strategy – it needs to fit with the design, style and crucially the perception you want to create among potential customers.
Having the right tone of voice can help to generate brand loyalty among your customers, leading to greater engagement with your business and this can only be a good thing when it comes to increasing sales and boosting the bottom line.
It’s not just about the words, it’s about how you communicate with your customers and that’s what makes it important. In this digital age, with so much communication taking place instantly, it can be all too easy for a brand to become diluted in the effort to keep up with customer demand.
A consistent tone of voice is vital
Customers recognise your brand from the way you communicate – whether that is through the words on your website, a live chat feed, your Twitter account, or from a printed brochure or leaflet.
It is vital to keep a consistent tone of voice no matter where your customers are in touch with you. If your business is formal and authoritative on the website, but then sends out casual, jokey emails to prospects, that creates a confusing impression of what your brand is all about.
Deciding on, and sticking with a tone of voice that is appropriate, ensures your brand will be consistent across all of your marketing channels, no matter who is developing the content for you.
The best way to ensure a consistent tone of voice throughout all of your marketing is to make it integral to your brand strategy and include it in all brand guidelines, so anyone communicating on behalf of the company has access.
Having everyone from the marketing team, to freelancers, to the sales team, adhering to strict tone of voice and brand guidelines will help to make your brand stronger and make it easier to maintain and retain loyal customers.
So how do you decide on your tone of voice?
It’s important not to generate tone of voice in isolation from the rest of your branding strategy and approach so working with a specialist branding agency like Frost Creative can help ensure a consistent and successful approach to generating your brand. Here are a few things you can do when considering the right tone of voice for your particular brand:
Look at your company values
You need to look deeply at what you want your company to stand for and why it exists. Who are your customers and how do you want them to see you? Unless you have a really clear idea of your own company values it will be virtually impossible to create an authentic, genuine tone of voice which fits. You need to understand the company offering in order to create a brand strategy which reflects it.
Customers need to understand clearly and easily what your company values are, from the way you communicate with them – that way they can decide more easily if your business deserves their loyalty.
Consider your market place
Look at your competitors and other leading firms in your industry – you don’t want to copy them but consider if you need to fit in with the industry to be accepted by customers or if you want to do something completely different. Look at what works and what doesn’t work currently to gain ideas and see what might be missing.
You want to increase sales and generate more leads ultimately so having a tone of voice which successfully positions your brand as an industry leader and helps you to stand out from the competition will go a long way to helping you achieve your goals.
Talk to your customers
Your tone of voice needs to resonate with your customers so do some research to find out who they are and what they need. The more you understand them the easier it will be to develop a tone of voice which they find engaging and will relate to. That way your communication and marketing efforts are more likely to be successful.
Make sure your tone of voice reflects your brand
The ideal is for people to recognise a piece of communication as coming from your brand, even if your name or logo doesn’t appear. Your tone of voice needs to be unique, consistent and therefore become associated with your brand in people’s minds, in the same way that logos and images are.
No matter where people read about your business – whether it’s an advert in a magazine, a product description on the back of a packet, or a page on your website, it should be instantly recognisable as belonging to your brand.
Your tone of voice needs to accurately reflect the experience people have when interacting with your business as well, so it’s important that customer-facing staff such as sales people or telesales, all understand how to communicate.
If a customer reads an authoritative corporate page on your website, and telephones a sales person, only to be greeted with a casual conversational style, it can create a poor impression, as if the business is trying to be something it’s not.
If your business is casual and friendly, then make sure the tone of voice for all communication reflects that as well. It’s important to be genuine and authentic for your customers at all times so they trust your brand.
It can be tempting to try to stand out from the crowd by being crazy or quirky, or trying to create a fun, humorous approach however, you need to take your industry and importantly your customers into account when thinking about being quirky.
If you work in a highly regulated industry then making jokes or being super casual in your tone probably won’t go down very well among your customers. Standing out from the crowd doesn’t have to mean going against the grain, or being quirky.
In fact, in many industries, being quirky or humorous could go against you. What you need is to find your authentic voice which reflects your business values and your customers’ needs. It may be that they want funny and quirky but bear in mind you have to then do that consistently, every single time you communicate.
Don’t copy another business
While you need to look at what’s happening in your industry and with your competitors, never be tempted to copy another company’s tone of voice. For the simple reason that you want to stand out and be noticed – it makes no sense to copy someone else.
Develop your own brand strategy which focuses on the bigger picture and what you want to achieve, and use that to develop all of your branding assets including your own, unique and authentic tone of voice. The experts at Frost Creative can help with every aspect of the branding journey.
Keep it consistent with guidelines
Once you have decided on your tone of voice you need to know what that’s going to look like in practice, and you need a way to keep everyone consistent. The best way is to create your brand guidelines, and within those, include a guide to tone of voice.
This guide needs to explain the choice of tone of voice and what you are trying to achieve and it can go into specific detail with example product descriptions and words or phrases which should never be used.
Use a brand agency
If you want to make sure your tone of voice and the rest of your brand strategy is working as effectively as possible for your business then it can be a good idea to work with a brand agency like Frost Creative where the experts can make sure that everything developed and created for your brand is designed to create the best possible engagement level with your customers.
Choosing the wrong tone of voice or rushing to respond and react to communications 24/7 without proper guidelines to keep your tone consistent, can mean your brand will become diluted, confusing customers and creating a negative perception of your business.
Getting the tone of voice right will help your business to stand out in a crowded market place and have an instant impact. Getting the tone of voice consistent across all your marketing, all the time, will give your brand strength and help to improve customer engagement and brand loyalty.
If you would like to speak to the experts here at Frost Creative about developing a brand strategy and how to create an authentic tone of voice for your business then please do give us a call today.