Why does tone of voice matter?

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Why does tone of voice matter?

As a business, you communicate in three ways; the way you look, the way you sound and the way you behave. As well as your visual identity – which includes your logo, colours and typography – your verbal identity is a crucial part of who you are and how you connect with people. Whether that’s your customers, prospects, suppliers, partners or the media. It comprises your tone of voice, and the stories you choose to tell about your business.

You may have noticed that certain fruity drinks have developed a sense of humour. Banks have started chatting to their customers. And even management consultants are ditching the management-speak in favour of more normal language.

The explosion of content marketing driven by social media makes your tone of voice all the more important.  But the proliferation of channels makes it harder to implement. Or at least harder to implement consistently. Aligning the tone of your communications with what your brand stands for is crucial. Without the use of sound, or a voiceover, or even a supporting image, the words you use have never been more important. It’s the words you use that will evoke the feelings of the reader.

Brand values and personality

The tone of voice you choose to use must be closely aligned to your brand values and reflect your business image. Ultimately, it’s the personality of your brand and it will leave the reader with the desired feelings you want them have from each and every interaction. Below are 20 words that can be used to describe a tone of voice.  This list is far from exhaustive, and the likelihood is that a combination of these words will be required to reflect your desired personality:
Fun
Precise
Informative
Young
Approachable
Educational
Reliable
Quirky
Innovative
Refreshing
Extrovert
Inspirational
Modest
Funky
Authoritative
Confident
Formal
Imaginative
Friendly
Considered

Select the words that most closely represent the personality that delivers your brand values. Be careful to ensure the words you use are compatible with each other. For instance, ‘funky’ and ‘considered’ would give even the best copywriter a significant challenge!

Consistency is everything

“The true writer has nothing to say. What counts is the way he says it.”
Alain Robbe-Grillet

Once you’ve defined your tone of voice you need to communicate it. Ideally, this would be documented so that it can be easily shared with your various authors, content generators and curators who are likely to be contributing content on a regular basis. The aim is consistency. The more consistent you are, the more likely it is that people will understand who you are and what makes you special, or different.

The way you express yourself has to be joined-up and consistent so that people admire, respect and, crucially, trust you. It’s no good saying you’re imaginative if the language you use is anything but. Hence the need for a strong verbal identity that everyone understands and knows how to use. So whether it’s a tweet, a blog, an advert or your website the reader knows who they are engaging with. The experience they receive is consistent regardless of the channel they are using. And the feelings you have evoked in them will make them want to find out more. And more…

That’s why tone of voice matters.

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