Creating an appropriate and consistent tone is vital for any business. The tone should be addressed in all business communications, whether it’s the copy and content on product packaging, a company website, social media platforms or marketing emails.
Tone of voice is one of the main ways to develop a successful brand identify, yet so many companies fail to get it right. Your organisation’s tone should portray your business’s personality and core values in order to maximise engagement with your target audience.
Understand your target audience
A key marketing principle is to know your target audience inside out. It sounds obvious, but this is often overlooked in connection to the tone of voice.
This is ultimately who you are writing for i.e. who you are trying to promote your products and services towards. Consider your audience in terms of gender, age, occupation, demographics, their hobbies and their interests.
Thinking about your target audience can help you to create engaging and appealing content which speaks to them directly, in the right tone.
No matter what the nature of your business, you want to showcase that you are a professional and trustworthy expert within your field. It’s important that you promote your core values through tone of voice in order to reassure potential customers or clients.
Word choice is of upmost importance. An organisation should use words and phrases which correspond with the nature of their organisation. For instance, it would not be appropriate for a solicitor or corporate bank to use a humorous tone or slang within their written content. Equally, a company who specialise in selling skateboarding products will adopt a more informal tone, as well as use the specific terms and colloquialisms which are distinctive amongst the skateboarding community.
Consider the way you would speak to a potential client or customer face-to-face and try to replicate this tone throughout your written content.
Don’t overdo it
It’s crucial to avoid overselling your products and services in your company communications, as this will run the risk of appearing too pushy and cliched, with an overtly aggressive tone.
Equally, although technical terms or business language are sometimes necessary, their overuse can be daunting to those outside of your industry. It’s important to have a balance between simplifying the language without being too patronising. In most cases, writing should be understood by the majority of readers.
Other companies try and stand out by creating a distinctive tone of voice, trying too hard to be edgy, quirky or entertaining. Unless it’s achieved in a clever and comprehensive style, with supporting market research, this can often backfire and bewilder customers, undermining your reputation.
Create a style guide
A style guide is a great means to ensure there is consistency across all marketing campaigns and business communications. It will also support your copywriters, enabling them to deliver effective content that adheres to the company brand. Consistency is vital to engaging the audience, as people are far more likely to respond to brands which possess a memorable, familiar and clear tone. This makes them seem reliable and authoritative.
Within your style guidelines, you could address:
- Sentence lengths– will you use long, detailed sentences to describe your products and services, or keep it short and snappy to grab people’s attention? Many organisations opt to use different types of sentences to hold the reader’s attention. Paragraphing is another aspect to consider in the style guide.
- Contractions– to sound friendly and conversational you might want to use contractions such as ‘we’ll’ rather than ‘we will’.
- Language– including descriptive or emotive language, with adjectives and adverbs can help promote a product. However, for some brands, using facts, figures and statistics might be more appropriate.
- Imperatives– some businesses use imperatives or ‘action words’ to impact the reader and create a sense of urgency, for example “try the latest…” or “explore the local…”.
- Pronouns– directly referring to your audience in the second person pronoun ‘you’ is a great way to engage people, as though you are talking to them directly. For instance, ‘you can save 20% off your first order’. Similarly, referring to your business in the plurals of ‘we’ and ‘our’ can make an organisation sound inclusive and helpful.
Of course, there are plenty of other considerations when formalising a style guide, such as when to use capitalisations in headings, whether to use ampersands or create FAQs. You might also consider providing model examples of copy which conform to your chosen language, structure and grammar to copywriters to refer to.
The average time spent on a website is around 15 seconds. This means you need to grab your reader’s attention by using concise language, avoiding pointless jargon and clichés.
Writing shorter sentences and clearly structured content can help to capture a user’s interest. In addition, specific sub-headings and bullet points can also help information to stand out on a page.
Tone of voice in different contexts
You may need to slightly alter the tone of voice used in different contexts and situations. For instance, an advisory piece of content posted on a social media platform might differ to a formal letter written to a customer or client. You will want to maintain your business values and personality (your voice) whilst adopting a slightly different tone depending on what you are communicating.
Revise your content strategy
In terms of marketing, it is crucial to develop a consistent tone of voice which best communicates your values and character as a business.
Crescat Digital can support your company in creating an effective content strategy which will positively impact your online presence. We work with a range of businesses to promote different tones of voice so that businesses can effectively reach their target markets across the web. For more information about our digital marketing services, get in touch with a member of our team.