Ask a group of marketers or communications professionals about a great tone of voice for business, and you can guarantee that someone reference Monzo, the challenger bank which continually outperforms the huge multi-nationals in terms of engaging customers and it’s wider audience through consistently excellent corporate comms.
The tone of voice is a key element of your overall branding and marketing strategy but not every business takes the time needed to establish theirs.
In this article, we’re going to look at what tone of voice is and how to develop yours.
What Exactly Is It?
The simplest way to describe it is how you choose to communicate with your audience. The personality of your business. While it is often witty or funny examples that are shared across social media, your tone of voice can be whatever you want it to be.
In some sectors, it pays to be more formal. What matters is that you’re speaking in a way to builds trust with your audience and that you are consistent in this whether that’s through your social media marketing, print ads or website.
Why Does It Matter?
How you engage with people through your communications is very important. It communicates your brand values, which can result in greater trust and customers. The uneven tone of voice can make you look unprofessional or fail to engage your audience. If you’re considering influencer marketing, it can be very useful in finding people who reflect your values and tone.
Developing Your Tone Of Voice
Your tone of voice comes from a number of different areas. The two most likely to influence you are your target audience and how you wish to position yourself in the market.
As part of your research you should develop your buyer personas, so that you know where and when your target audience consumes their content.
Next, decide how your want them to perceive you. It could be professional, friendly, funny or disruptive. Whatever you choose, it should be authentically you. It’s great to take inspiration from other brands but don’t be tempted to copy.
Its’ likely that your brand’s voice will evolve as time goes on, which is absolutely fine, you don’t want to have to do an entire rebrand or relaunch every few years to bring you back in line with your target audience.
How To Know If It’s Working
So you’ve spent time working on your company tone of voice and rolled it out throughout your brand. How do you know if it’s working? Well, there’s a few ways you can tell. Firstly, your customers may tell you. If you’ve made a bit of a misstep and somehow angered or confused people, then they’ll probably let you know by commenting on social posts or emailing you. In today’s society, you’re probably going to have negative feedback no matter what you do, but if it makes up the majority of your feedback, then you should probably start taking notice.
You can also get a feel for how you’re communicating with people by tracking your open rates on videos and emails. If these suddenly start dropping, then it could be the language you’re using. Try split testing, sending one section of your audience an email with your new tone of voice and another with a different style. Look at the results and see which gets you the biggest response.
If you have the resources available, try and run a focus group of market research to test your messaging. You might be surprised by the results.
How To Keep Your Tone Of Voice Consistent
If you’ve spend a lot of time and resources perfecting your tone of voice, then you don’t want to ruin this by suddenly going off-brand or slowly eroding it over time. In smaller companies, it might be easier to manage, as there won’t be as many people who are responsible for the messaging.
If you’re a larger company, or work with outside agencies and freelancers, then you’re going to need to keep a closer look at what’s happening.
A great way to do this is to create a tone of voice guide for your company. In this, it will talk about how your brand is communicated, tone of voice and key messaging. It can be qute detailed, even down to how you use things like punctuation or emojis. As mentioned earlier, Monzo is a great example of how this is done. There are many great examples out there. Find one which has a similar feel to what you’re aiming for. Remember, you don’t always have to try and be funny or different in your tone of voice. Authenticity is what matters.
This guide will also help you to brief marketing agencies, PR and social media managers on how to communicate your brand. Misunderstanding can occur they aren’t briefed fully. This could result in work which needs to be redone, leading to higher costs and could affect your working relationship.
You may also want to consider having training for all employees, especially those who are customer facing. This will make sure that they are all living and breathing your brand when it comes to interacting with others.
Who Can Help?
If you’re not sure where to start in developing a tone of voice for your company, then there are a few options. You can hire someone to help you create them, taking on any market research and working with key stakeholders, putting forward ideas to be approved by the company. Or you can take on the task yourself if you feel confident enough or don’t have the budget to outsource right now. There are many great guides online that can help you through the process.
If you’re serious about having a successful business, then tone of voice isn’t just a nice to have. It’s very important for communicating with potential and existing customers, which directly effects your bottom line. There are many examples of brands going rogue and upsetting their audience, which can be avoided by having these guidelines in place.