How to Craft a Unique Tone of Voice
Who are you? Why do you exist?
These questions have been posed by philosophers through the ages. And, more recently, by brands searching for their unique tone of voice.
Because how you speak to your audience goes a long way in making them feel something for your brand.
It’s why Nike chose an inspirational voice that encourages audiences to smash their PB. It’s why Tiffany talks with elegance, exuding opulence. It’s why Skittles gets in-your-face with a tone that packs a punch with every pun.
Your tone of voice is your brand’s beliefs, values and personality. It’s the foundation of your brand’s verbal identity and should shine through your comms, your copy, your content and your customer service.
Why is tone of voice important?
When a brand talks to you in a consistent tone of voice, you begin to build relationships with that brand. And trust and loyalty are born. Just like in any relationship, the sense of familiarity strengthens the bond. And that’s reinforced in all the copy – your website, emails, ads on the train or social posts.
The more you get to know a brand through their copy, the more you understand who they are, what they stand for and their unique place in the world. So your tone isn’t just how you stand out from the crowd or cut through the noise (although that’s certainly an advantage.)
Your tone of voice is how you build trust. It’ll shape your customers’ perceptions of your brand. Ultimately, it’ll determine whether or not they buy from you. And whether or not they come back. And of course, your tone of voice will inform your entire content and comms strategy. So, it had best be right, right? And that’s the rub:
How do you define your tone of voice?
In a crowded world of copy-paste content and endless digital drivel, finding your own voice is tough. How do you convey your key messages and unique value in a way that really resonates with your readers? Yet sets you apart from the rest?
How do you inject personality into your voice and inspire confidence?
Beyond superficial descriptors like ‘cool’ or ‘quirky’, your brand’s tone encompasses everything you say and do. Your values, your market positioning, your audience’s expectations. It isn’t decided on a whim, it isn’t bashed out – instead, it begins with a journey.
No, we don’t mean a journey of the epic variety. There are no six-headed monsters, sea-serpents or blood-thirsty cannibals here: just a vital discovery session. Some time to determine what your brand stands for and how it can engage audiences across all comms.
So, where do you start?
1. Take stock of your tone of voice
Maybe you’ve never thought about tone of voice before. That’s understandable -after all, most leaders have a lot of responsibilities to juggle. Brand identity is often an afterthought. It was for us, too: for too long, client work took priority and brand discovery took a backseat. The plumber’s leaky tap and all that.
If that sounds familiar, your tone of voice is likely serious, professional, feature-led and a little long-winded. Or a mish-mash of personalities, as different writers all write what they think is on brand.
There could be gold in there – but it’s unlikely to link back to your brand identity or strategic objectives. And it’s best not to rely on blind luck for something as important as tone of voice.
As a starting point, it’s useful to take stock and get a feel for your current tone.
Read your website copy out loud
What kind of person would speak in this tone? Are they playful, are they chatty? Or are they serious and bookish? Come up with three adjectives to describe your current tone. Try to be specific here. If the copy is funny, how is it funny? Is it edgy and clever or light and playful?
Look at your competitors copy
What personality type shines through their copy? It might be helpful to take some content from their site and compare it to copy on your site that serves the same purpose. Get an idea of the differences in tone
Check out your metrics
If you use Google Analytics or something similar, assess how your content and copy is resonating with your audience. High bounce rates and low click-throughs on your calls to action indicate your tone may not be quite hitting the spot.
2. Define your difference
Like your colour palette or your typeface, your tone of voice expresses your brand’s personality. It’s how your customers will expect you to communicate. And it defines how much attention they’ll give you.
Think about it: the best joke could be told in a long-winded, convoluted way with the punch-line falling flat on its face. But when told by a professional stand-up, in a tone that‘s clear, direct and filled with charisma, the same joke will go over like gangbusters.
This is what’s known as ‘paraverbal’ communication – how we say something – and it accounts for approximately 38% of what is communicated to someone. Think about it: how many times have you gotten into an argument over the semantics of a sentence?
It turns out that words alone don’t always do a good enough job of expressing what we mean. Because the way someone speaks can be just as impactful as what they say.
Finding your ‘why’ is fundamental to finding your way.
Maybe you already have an idea of what you want your brand to sound like – but do you know why? This is the most important element in brand-building, so it really is unskippable. Which is one more reason it’s so alarming how many people skip it.
Find your sweet spot
Tone changes everything. And it can be make or break for a business. Even if you don’t consciously think about it, it doesn’t take much to realise the far-reaching impact that brand voice has on a business’ bottom line.
For example, imagine BrewDog spoke like Stella Artois. That refined take on the artistry and sophistication of beer brewing. BrewDog would then attract a very different, somewhat bemused, crowd. What if Marks & Spencer got all up in your grill like Harley Davidson?
Or imagine a government talking in a quirky ‘Innocent Smoothies’ tone of voice across their website:
“Oops! Looks like your tax is late. No biggie, but you might go to jail 🙁 “
Wouldn’t that make you feel uneasy?
That’s because what’s ‘good’ isn’t always what’s ‘right’.
Your aim is to tick both boxes. To nail a tone that cuts through the noise and resonates with your readers. The more you get to know your purpose, your people and your industry, the closer you get to finding a tone of voice that’s both good and right for your brand.
Bring it back to basics
Can you articulate what makes you original?
Before you can start making decisions about the words you use, and how you use them, you needa clear idea about what makes your brand different. This is a good time to revisit the reasons you built your business in the first place.
That spark came from passion and past experiences. It grew from care and attention to blossom into the brand it is today. Behind the processes and practices, there must be purpose and principles that drive the business forward.
Of course, every business wants to make a profit. But your brand’s meaning lies beyond your quarterly objectives. Your purpose is the idealistic view of what you want to do for your audience, and how you plan to improve their world. It’s this purpose that inspires loyalty and convinces your customers to keep coming back.
Perhaps you only started to make money. Fair enough. But why make money doing what you do? There are probably easier ways to make money. If you care about what you’re doing, you’re doing it for more than money.
What is that reason?
For us at Craft, we believe that the words we use every day make a difference. Emails, presentations, ads, they all have an impact. So it’s our purpose to help everyone use words a bit better and play a small part in making people happier.
Found your purpose?
Start writing. Yes, you heard – just jot down words that come to mind. It doesn’t need to be perfect, it won’t be perfect, not yet. That’s not the point. This is just an exercise to gather the building blocks of your brand identity. Benefits, offerings, words your customers have used about your products or services – they’re all useful in discovering what makes you different.
We often hear from founders that their business isn’t unique. Maybe their product is similar to others’. Their approach may not stand out. On the surface, there are no obvious differences. But when we explore the intangibles, we uncover genuinely unique qualities.
The key is to interrogate your brand until it confesses. Or, like an orange juice-charged toddler, to keep asking why. Why does your business exist? Who are your customers? Why are they loyal? What motivates you to grow the business? Why do your employees enjoy working for you?
Your unique difference doesn’t need to be game-changing. You don’t need to be the Uber of… Your difference can be as subtle as your connection with the local community, your commitment to giving back, certain aspects of your product presentation or the emotional response your brand triggers. If your brand is the best at something in your industry, you can differentiate through your expertise.
In the end, these meaningful differences make up the customer experience of your brand as a whole. So, when it comes to defining your tone of voice, these differentiators will serve as a springboard for your copy.
3. Uncover your values
You can’t have a voice if you don’t have values. They’re the pillars your personality is built on. And, according to one study, 81% of customers think it’s important to buy from brands that reflect their values.
In the TEDxMünchen Talk Why Values Matter, Jan Stassen has a great description of values:
“We as individuals use [values] as guidance when there are big decisions in our lives. Whereas goals, plans, and fears focus on the outcome, values worry about the way we do things. They have a moral implication. They define how we want to continue to live. So, to put it in very simple terms: values are situation independent decision helpers. So, no matter what context I’m in, I’m trying to stick to my own values.”
Think about people you know. Their style of communication is based on what they believe. Someone who values honesty is likely to be upfront and to the point with friends. Someone who values care and sensitivity will, in most cases, speak with a tone that’s reassuring and nurturing.
Same goes for your brand. If one of your values is transparency, adopting a hyper-professional tone and filling your site with jargon goes against your values. Crafting a distinctive tone of voice asks you to look back at the values you founded your business on. If you don’t already know your core values, ask yourself:
What motivates your team?
Which experiences have shaped your business?
What principles can you draw from them?
Why do people love working with you?
How should your audience feel when they deal with your business?
What do you want to tell the world?
These questions should (hopefully) start to build a picture of your brand persona – what it is and what it isn’t. On that note, it’s helpful to have a session about what you want to stay away from as a brand.
Maybe you want to inspire confidence, but don’t want to be pushy. You might value openness, but cringe at brands being too informal. Your team ethos might be lighthearted and funny, but that doesn’t mean you want every line of your web copy to read like a stand-up routine.
Only by defining your comms’ core purpose can you build a tone of voice that represents your values and resonates with your customers. Then you can roll your established tone across the business to help your people live your values.
4. Get to know your audience
Like it or not, our personalities are all shaped – to some degree – by the people we surround ourselves with. Often without even noticing, we adjust our tone to our audience – a child, a hiring manager, a close friend or an elderly relative. The same is true for brands.
Because the more we know about who we’re talking to, the easier it is for us to talk to them in a language they like.
And it works both ways.
According to a report by Salesforce, 66% of customers expect brands to understand them and their needs and expectations. But 66% also said they usually felt they were treated like a number.
Clearly, there’s an opportunity for brands to communicate in a way that makes customers feel understood or acknowledged.
We’re not suggesting you completely rework your tone for every demographic – nor are we saying you need to know your customers’ star signs and what time they eat their dinner. Your aim isn’t to play a role to meet expectations.
But, to a certain extent, your target audience should shape how your brand communicates. To determine how to approach them, you’ll need to do some research.
Who are they?
It’s time to do some digging on your customers. Age, interests, job titles – all you can get without getting creepy. Lean on Google Analytics and social media insights to paint a portrait of your persona. Once built, your buyer personas can guide your decisions on the best way to communicate with your audience.
You’ll find there are several personas within your audience, but the common ground between each one is your sweet spot. The ‘x factor’ that makes them choose your brand. Try to discover their preferred channels of communication (i.e. social media) and favourite publications. This helps to indicate the kind of writing they like and respond to.
Where does it hurt for them?
The best copywriters are part-time mind-readers. They know what their customers are missing, what challenges they’re facing and what their ambitions are. In other words, they’re living rent-free in the customers’ mind, articulating their every concern better than the customer ever could.
Because as crucial as it is to know who you’re talking to, it’s even more important to know how they’re feeling. Tap into this and you’ll be on your way to creating a tone that resonates with your target audience.
So, now you have a new challenge: securing that luxury pad in your audience’s mind.
The first step? Understanding their pain points.
No we don’t mean painful as in dodgy knees or sinus headaches – but your customers will have problems you can solve. With a target customer in mind, ask yourself:
What are their personal and professional goals?
What’s stopping them from achieving these goals?
What do they struggle with on a day to day basis?
What are their frustrations?
These answers, with demographics and communication preferences, should help you position your brand as an answer to your customers’ problems.
What’s their perception of your brand?
Just because you haven’t outlined your tone yet, it doesn’t mean your customers don’t already feel something for your brand. And that feeling may be vital in understanding what makes you stand out from your competitors.
Don’t worry, you’re not expected to actually read minds at this point. On the contrary, it’s a good idea to ask your customers what their perception of your brand is. You can even ask them what products, services, events, incidents or content has influenced their opinion.
Here are a few prompts you can use with your customers to get the answers you need:
What three words best describe our brand? Or-
What is the first word that comes to mind when you think of our brand?
If our brand were a person, how would you describe our personality, or –
If our brand were a celebrity, who would it be and why?
What genre of music would you associate with our brand? (this one’s a bit off the beaten track, but it might help you to get a better grasp of your brand identity)
As well as conducting short interviews via phone or email, you’ll want to check out what customers are saying about your brand in their reviews. Customer reviews – both positive or negative – can be eye-opening, helping you to understand what your audience wants from your brand and how they currently see your business.
5. Create your tone of voice guide
You know your mission. You know your values, your purpose and culture. You’ve got under the skin of your audience’s problems. It’s time to channel that into a brand language that pulls it all together.
If the thought of a ToV guide makes you want to throw your laptop at the wall, hear me out: the aim here isn’t to create a heavy compendium that collects dust in a shared drive. The idea is to create a set of constraints that can help you to narrow down what your tone of voice is and isn’t.
A long-winded manual that covers every use of your voice isn’t necessary. Or achievable. Or usable. You want to aim for about three pages, max. Any longer and commitment drops off. Rather than an extensive framework, your tone of voice guidelines should be like the North star: as long as you’re all heading towards the same place, you should be fine. The more lengthy and overwhelming the rulebook becomes, the less likely people are to follow it. As my first Creative Director said to me “minimise the process, maximise the compliance”.
Ready to start writing your brand’s tone of voice guide? The next 10 steps will help you put pen to paper.
1. Create buyer personas
This is a chance to share the relevant information you’ve gathered on your audience with your teams. Alongside their key demographics, list a few of their pain points so users can empathise with customers when writing to/for them.
At this point, it’s a good idea to separate out your audience personas into different categories based on their stage in the buying cycle. Next to each, state their particular challenges and what they may be feeling. For example:
– Buyer stage: Consideration
– Challenge: Lack of knowledge about your brand / products / services
– Feeling: Uncertainty, hesitance
– Tone of voice: Reassuring, confident
2. Build your brand language
Now it’s time to turn conceptual ideas into a tangible brand language that employees across the business can adopt easily. Brand language is the body of terms, phrases, and words you use to describe your business and your products/services.
This is where you’ll delve deeper into the actual process of writing, to give users a clear idea of what your tone of voice sounds like in practice. You’ll want to cover several areas here, such as:
Formality/Informality of language (with examples)
Sense of humour and the brand’s propensity for using humour in comms/copy/content
Use of personal/impersonal speech
There’s a delicate balance to be struck between being detailed and being overwhelming. To keep it simple, you might want to include tone comparisons to existing brands and publications. It’s also helpful to use descriptors of your tone of voice, like “sophisticated”, “elegant”, or “quirky”, “straight-talking”.
Remember, a tone of voice guide is not the same beast as a style guide. Inevitably, there will be crossover, as both guides provide rules for how your brand uses language. However, where your tone guidelines are more concerned with personality, a style guide sets out rules for how you use grammar, spelling, your brand’s use of abbreviations and acronyms.
In all honesty, creating an entire style guide for your brand is a mammoth task. And, inevitably, it won’t cover everything. Instead, focus on what’s really going to make a difference to your comms (tone) and seek out a universal style guide that you can lean on for specifics. We recommend using the Guardian’s free style guide – it covers 90% of the standard writing, grammar and punctuation conventions.
With this as your base, you can make additions / adjustments as you find them. In turn, you’ll have more time to focus on the element that’s really going to make a difference: your tone.
Above all, it’s essential that your tone of voice guidelines clarify the link between your voice and your values. Taking one value at a time, tell your users how that value is translated into tone and expressed within your language.
See below for a few examples:
- We are… Honest
So, we use a tone of voice that is… Straight-talking and direct
And we use language that is… Clear and simple
- We are… Human
So, we use a tone of voice that is… Friendly and warm
And we use language that is… Funny, jargon-free and easy to read
3. Control your vocabulary
Here’s where your ToV guide gets specific. If there are any words specific to your brand, put them here. Along with any words your brand should never use. For example, you might want to use the word “solutions” instead of “services”. If you’re working for Jaffa Cakes, you’ll want to steer people away from using the word ‘biscuit’ – because apparently, these biscuit-like snacks aren’t biscuits at all.
4. Show the ‘before and after’
Often, the clearest way to present your tone of voice in action is by writing several sentences and then adjusting those sentences in a follow-up example to meet the ToV guidelines. So, let’s say your tone of voice is punchy and rebellious. Let’s see that tone in action:
- We proudly deliver cloud-based solutions for ambitious start-ups
- Powering the nation’s start-ups with cloud-based solutions designed for growth.
See how the second sentence gets straight to the point and packs a punch? Okay, now let’s say your tone of voice is more helpful and nurturing:
- Focus on what you do best. Let our cloud technology take care of the rest.
Examples such as these really help the reader get to grips with your tone of voice. If you want to give staff training, ask them to adjust a few sentences in line with the ToV guide themselves. This is particularly helpful in familiarising them with the brand’s language.
5. Give use case examples
When it comes to creating impactful copy, consistency is key. However, it’s unlikely you’d use the same language for all your comms. Inevitably, your tone will need to be adjusted ever so slightly depending on how it’s being used – in sales, marketing, support emails, social media posts and so on.
Instead of treating your tone as a strict set of rules, try to see it as a set of graphic equaliser dials. On each dial is a trait of your brand’s tone. Try to stick to between three and five traits to keep it simple.
Let’s say your brand is honest, open and daring. Your subject matter defines which dial you turn and how far. A product announcement, for example, calls for a daring tone of voice . An apology, on the other hand, should lean on the honest and sincere side of your brand’s personality. Dial down the daring, dial up the openness and turn the honesty dial up to 11. Don’t worry too much about setting out rules for your tone across each platform like LinkedIn or Instagram – what matters the most is your ability to alter your tone according to context.
6. Adjust your clocks to local time
Think about the local audience of the market you’re writing for. For instance, while the British are known for being overly polite, the Dutch are known for being direct and to-the-point.
These are slight generalisations, of course – but it’s worth researching audience preferences to understand the nuances of communication styles between countries. That way, you can suggest adjustments and provide examples for each region.
Translation vs. Transcreation
When it comes to copywriting for international audiences, the truth is that tone doesn’t always translate. Similarly, some concepts and lines that leap off the page in English will get lost if you try to translate them literally. Instead, go back to the initial idea that led to your copy and try to reimagine it for a new audience. This practice is known as ‘transcreation’.
Effective transcreation takes the meaning, tone and emotion of an idea and communicates it in a way that will resonate with a new audience. The result: copy that’s just as powerful as the original. If you already know your copy will need to be translated, don’t write bland copy for the sake of sparing the translation team the effort. This will only lead to bad copy in both languages. Aim to write brilliant copy and brief the translators so they can bring it to life in another language.
7. Get commitment
You’ve come this far. Your brand identity is well defined. Your tone of voice is nailed down. Don’t let all that effort go to waste by filing your guidelines away in the depths of a forgotten folder on the shared drive.
The whole point of penning your Tone of Voice guidelines is to provide users with an easy-to-read prompt that will help them to get to grips with the brand voice on a day-to-day basis. Of course, this takes time, and your key people will likely need some hands-on training to get accustomed with it.
But the point is this: if you want your tone of voice to actually have an impact for your business, you need to involve the whole company. Beyond the marketing team, these rules for writing need to be embedded in the minds of everyone from HR to accounts, sales and support.
That means getting people excited about your brand identity. It means making your brand voice a part of how your people live your values. Eventually, it will become second nature, but that won’t happen if you only send one mass email asking everyone to read a 20-page manual.
Instead, why not create an eye-catching poster that condenses your rules for writing down into key messages? That way, when your people need a prompt, they can refer back to the poster for guidance. And, if they’re still unsure, they’ll have your guidelines saved in a sensible place to take a closer look.
8. Hold ToV Workshops
You can’t get commitment from an email conversation. Even a one-off group call isn’t going to cut it. In the words of Aristotle, “for the things we have to learn before we can do them, we learn by doing.”
If you want everyone in your organisation to grasp the brand’s tone, you might want to look to experiential learning – an engaged learning process whereby students “learn by doing” and by reflecting on the experience.
Workshops are a great way to teach your employees the rules to your tone in a way that is both engaging and memorable. As a starting point, set tasks that ask your people to assess their own tone of voice as individuals. This is a great way to introduce the subject and get your people thinking about the importance of tone more broadly.
From here, you can move into more relevant tasks that test their ability to write within the brand’s tone. These personalised learning experiences help to cement the most important elements of your tone in the minds of your people. Instead of being told what it sounds like, they’ve tried it for themselves and so are more likely to adopt it in their communications.
9. Choose a ToV champion in each office
Larger organisations with several offices need to make sure consistency in tone is achieved business-wide. This means choosing a tone of voice champion in each branch and giving them the reins to reinforce the tone across their office.
These ToV champions will live and breathe the brand; they’ll know the guidelines inside out and be able to communicate the main elements of your ToV in a way that is clear, concise and easy to understand. Regular check-ins with your ToV champions to get their feedback and input will give you a window into how the tone is working in practice.
10. Review good and bad examples as a group
With the workshops rounded up, make sure to keep an open channel of communication with your teams on the topic of tone. Whether that’s a dedicated channel on your instant messaging platform or a monthly call to showcase both good and bad examples, revisiting tone will keep your people thinking about it.
And that’s great, because as your brand grows, your tone may evolve, too. Having regular conversations about tone allows your employees to weigh in on whether it’s working and what can be done differently. The more involved people are in shaping the tone, the more committed they will be to getting it right.
6. Grow with your customers
Nothing is forever. As your brand grows, so too does the world around it. Most importantly, the needs, expectations and behaviours of your audience evolves. Remarkable brands build trust by establishing a clear foundation for communication – but they’re not afraid to make sharp turns when the time is right.
When Apple launched their ‘Maps’ app to a hugely disappointed global audience, Tim Cook publicly apologised for the misstep. While Apple certainly made mistakes before, it was almost unheard of for Steve Jobs’ Apple to publicly apologise.
The decision to apologise for the Apple Maps fiasco highlighted a change of tone for the tech titan. And it was a shift that made sense: today, audiences on a whole expect transparency and honesty from companies. It’s even a major factor that influences customer loyalty.
Over the years, Apple has adjusted their boilerplate to reflect their product line, vision and mission. Through their tone of voice, you can tell a lot about the company’s perception of itself and its users at the time the copy was written.
For starters, let’s look at their boilerplate from all the way back in 1995:
“Apple Computer, Inc., a recognized pioneer and innovator in the information industry, creates powerful solutions based on easy to use personal computers, servers, peripherals, software, online services and personal digital assistants. Headquartered in Cupertino, California, Apple Computer, Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) develops, manufactures, licenses, and markets products, technologies, and services for the business, education, consumer, scientific & engineering and government markets in over 140 countries.”
Even by 1997, the copy had evolved once more to remove specifics about software and online servers. You can tell that the tone has been tightened up, too – which makes sense. Apple wanted to be known for keeping it simple – a concept which is reflected in their updated boilerplate from ‘97:
“Apple ignited the personal computer revolution in the 1970s with the Apple II, and reinvented the personal computer in the 1980s with the Macintosh. Apple is now recommitted to its original mission to bring the best personal computing products and support to students, educators, designers, scientists, engineers, businesspersons and consumers in over 140 countries around the world.”
In the decades that followed, Apple’s exponential growth and evolving product line led to several more iterations of the brand’s boilerplate. Fast forward to 2020: the key traits of the brand tone are still there, but it’s more inclusive, personable and reflective of the expectations of a modern audience:
“Apple revolutionized personal technology with the introduction of the Macintosh in 1984. Today, Apple leads the world in innovation with iPhone, iPad, Mac, Apple Watch and Apple TV. Apple’s five software platforms — iOS, iPadOS, macOS, watchOS and tvOS — provide seamless experiences across all Apple devices and empower people with breakthrough services including the App Store, Apple Music, Apple Pay and iCloud. Apple’s more than 100,000 employees are dedicated to making the best products on earth, and to leaving the world better than we found it.”
They may have adapted their boilerplate and messaging over the years, but the core values driving their creative have more or less stayed the same. Even their commercials from the 1990s have that essence of simplicity that you’ll find in modern Apple ads. The key difference between the two is the demographic they’re targeting.
Like Apple, you might find that your brand’s tone needs to evolve as your demographics change. Maybe your customer-base has shifted from an older crowd to a younger one and your key messages aren’t quite getting through to this new audience. If that’s the case, it’s a good time to alter your tone of voice accordingly – just remember to do your research on that new buyer persona before you make any decisions.
Naturally, implementing a new tone across all content will take time. You’ll also find it’s a bit of trial and error to test what’s working and what isn’t. Whether you’re updating your tone as part of a full rebrand or rolling it out gradually, always keep an eye on your performance metrics like time spent on webpages and social engagement rates to measure the audience response.
How to Define Your Tone of Voice: TL;DR
There’s a reason the best-loved brands spend so much time developing their tone of voice. Not only does it enable them to build trust with their customers, but it makes them memorable, and creates meaningful associations in their minds.
There’s no escaping the fact that digital spaces like social media are overcrowded or that everyone does email marketing. The trick is to stand out, and carving out a unique tone of voice is your best chance of seizing that spotlight.
In case you’re short on time, here’s a quick recap:
Take stock of your current brand voice. What’s working, what’s not quite hitting the mark? What kind of personality does it convey? Is that in line with your vision, your mission and your values?
Define what makes you different from your competitors. It doesn’t have to be a dramatic difference. A subtle variation on approach, your connections with the community or your proven expertise are all qualities that make your brand unlike any other in your space.
Interrogate your brand, and get to know your values. Your tone of voice should be an expression of these values and your purpose as a business (besides making money.) What are your principles, and what tone of voice would they translate to?
Understand your audience and delve deeper than demographics. What are their challenges, what keeps them up at night and how do you want them to feel when using your product or service? By tapping into the mindset of your target customer, you can craft a tone of voice that really resonates with them.
Create your tone of voice guidelines, but remember to keep it simple. Your goal is to get everyone on board, living your values and adopting your tone of voice naturally. Give clear examples and don’t overwhelm your users with too much detail. As long as you’re all headed in the same direction, the results should be the same.
Grow with your customers, and don’t hesitate to update your tone of voice when things change – whether that’s audience sentiment, demographics or a new direction for your business.