Before you plan on putting together your businesses tone of voice guidelines, you need to have a good grasp of what tone of voice actually means. Tone of voice is a combination of what you say and how you say it. It can make your brand come across as formal, casual, playful, serious, corporate or comical, it all depends on your style of communication.
It can be a difficult task trying to nail tone of voice guidelines, but by using things like exclamation marks, or talking to your audience as you would talk to a friend down the local pub you should be able to come to a reach a conclusion as to how you communicate to your targeted audience.
We all know that it’s important to get your logo and branding nailed on. Your logo will probably contain a subtle, subliminal message relative to the services you offer or products you sell. It gives your audience a really quick summary of your brand. Your businesses logo is an important signal to your audience that you are trustworthy. They recognise your logo and then instantly think of the products or services behind it, maybe even your values. With all of this consistency comes trust, customers recognise the brand so in turn trust it to deliver on its promises.
Consistency doesn’t end with your logo and branding, consider all of the copy on your packaging if you sell a product, all of the error pages that could appear if a customer hits a dead end or mistypes a URL, you need to ensure the type of voice you apply for all of your communications is another important element that makes up your businesses brand. This also carries through to how a customer service advisor would respond to a customer on a social media feed and how a salesperson would discuss a sale over the phone. By establishing a consistent tone of voice throughout all of your marketing material and communication your customers will immediately recognise your brand. A buyer will always feel safe purchasing from a business that’s predictable, consistent and trustworthy. Getting your tone of voice right will also let your customers know there are people behind the business, you are not just a cold, faceless company.
Your brand reflects your businesses values, your beliefs and tells your audience who you are, especially when it comes to your businesses tone of voice. Your logo and colour scheme for your brand will give a good indication of what your business does. Perhaps you wish your customers to know that you value the impact your business has on the environment and wish for that impact to be a positive one. A logo and colour scheme alone might not portray this to your audience, this is where a tone of voice can really put your brand values across.
Let’s take two different (fictional) brands. One of them is a high-end, luxury handbag designer, whilst the other is a fast fashion website with an 18-28 age range demographic. Now imagine that both brands tweeted after a recent red carpet event.
@luxhandbags “We take our hats off to the Duchess. She wore that custom made Chanel handbag with style & elegance. Bravo to her Designers!”
@fastfashion “OMG, Meg looked amazing! So, you wanna make an entrance? Get THAT red carpet look here”
A great tone of voice will make it clear what your businesses values are and will naturally connect to your target audience, even if your audience has no previous knowledge of your business or brand.
So, having a tone of voice guide is an important element that comes under the brand guidelines umbrella. Consider requesting a document to be put together for your own business, does your site write in the first person or third? Do you communicate with your audience in Queens English or are your comms more casual? Handing over a tone of voice guide to your hired copywriter will keep your brand consistent and your customers engaged.
Article Written by Alex Simpson
Designer & Digital Marketing Specialist