Developing the right voice and tone for your company’s brand

On: October 9, 2020
In: Branding, Marketing
Views: 78
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I found this interesting blog from Devin Delfino on how to set the right tone and voice for your brand. It’s not easy. If you want to build a strong brand, tone matters since it dictates how the audience will feel about your message both in intent and character. Here is a reference guide:

How to develop tone of voice for your brand
Gather your company’s goals and values and audit previous content. To develop the right tone for your brand, you will need to know a few key details:

  • What the company is trying to accomplish — both overall and through a given piece of communication
  • The tone that the brand has used previously
  • The company’s core values

Reviewing previously published communications and ask for impressions from your audience can also help you gauge where you stand. Combined, this information will give you a good idea about the kind of goals you want to accomplish, which will help shape the tone.

Understand your target audience
Tone can easily be mistreated if you do not have a firm grasp of who your audience is, to combat this problem consider conducting research on your company’s ideal audience, and what appeals to them.
You should know your target demographics, age range, where they live, common interests and how they like to communicate. Keep in mind things may change depending on the platform you are using to communicate, whether it is social media, a blog, an e-newsletter, etc.

Think about the four dimensions of tone of voice

  1. Funny vs. serious
  2. Formal vs. casual
  3. Respectful vs. irreverent
  4. Enthusiastic vs. matter of fact

These are useful tools for understanding where your brand’s current tone falls, as well as for getting a visual representation of what tone you want to use going forward.

Create tone-of-voice guidelines
Once you gathered the above information, it is time to put that idea into practice, typically as part of a brand style guide.

The “tone” section should include basic guidance like what a good tone sounds like versus what the company is trying to avoid, and providing examples for the reader in several contexts, like content marketing posts or social media. The more information you can provide, the easier it will be for people to stick to the desired tone.

Keep your tone of voice up to date
As with brand voice, tone is something that may not be static throughout the life of a business. It is vital to make sure that as the company changes, so too does the tone. That way, everyone who may have a hand in creating communications from the company is on the same page about what the brand voice and tone should sound like without deviating or slipping back into an outdated or otherwise undesirable place.

Common tone-of-voice mistakes
There are many opportunities to get “tone” wrong, especially if you do not take a balanced approach:

  • Mistake 1: Being inconsistent
    Tonal inconsistencies can create questions and even mistrust within your audience. It is vital to create a tone guide for your brand.
  • Mistake 2: Offending the intended audience
    Companies that go for the irreverent and funny sides, for example, can take things too far if they do not define how far is too far.
  • Mistake 3: Creating a forgettable tone
    Just like you can go too far at the opposite ends of the scales, choosing “neutral” positions could also backfire. Tone is meant to provoke an emotional response in the reader and failing to do so means being forgettable and irrelevant.
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