Tone of voice: what is it and why is it important?
Your brand is made up of many different components. These include your logo, company colours, your website, your shop or office and your tone of voice. All these elements work together to help potential clients to build up a picture of your business and decide whether your product or service is right for them.
In this article, we’ll look at tone of voice, also known as TOV, which is the language component of your brand.
What is tone of voice?
All the words you use in your business communications should chime with your brand. You achieve this by establishing a tone of voice.
For example, if you make high-quality products for the luxury market, your customers might be motivated by the social status reflected by ownership of one of your products. They are unlikely be motivated by bargain-hunting. So when you share pictures of your products on Instagram, or describe them on your website or even show them to customers in the comfort of your shop, the language you use will be all about quality and not about price.
In language terms, this means identifying words that reflect the quality of what you offer, and resonate with your ideal customer. Think of the difference between “awesome,” “enchanting” and “finest” – they all mean “good” but have very different connotations. The word you choose will help position your brand with the right market.
Why is tone of voice relevant?
Because of the internet, a twenty-first century business has a lot more written marketing collateral than its forebears. This means that there are many more opportunities for you to share your company messages through the written and spoken word. Many businesses have a blog, many more use social media. You might write or commission regular blogs, or share your videos on YouTube. And every time you share content that features language – let’s be honest, that’s most content! – that language needs to be on-brand.
How do I find the right tone of voice for my brand?
If you went into your business for the right reasons, and you’ve upheld your own values in the way you run it, tone of voice should come quite easily. When you have a branding meeting with Ed and Charlotte from Yazaroo, we will be listening for the words you use to describe your business. We’ll be listening for the joy and pain you experience with different types of client, and we’ll also be taking on how you feel about what you do and its place in the world. We’re not creepy psychoanalysts – instead, we’re branding experts who want to communicate your business as accurately as we can.
Our aim is to find the right words to describe your business, separating it from the competition and establishing its own position in your industry. We do that by starting with the language business owners use, and considering it alongside the language of your customers and clients.
I know what my logo looks like, but what does tone of voice look like?
Tone of voice is usually pinned down in a tone of voice guide. This will detail the style your writers should be aiming for, and might include detail for different types of writing that are relevant to your business, such as blogs, product descriptions or web pages.
The guide will also include the layout of your company name, like whether it has spaces and full stops, and where the capital letters go (eBay, for example). This will ensure that your company name looks right in any text, and reflects your logo and signage.
Our favourite part of a TOV guide is when right and wrong words are listed – this is how content marketers reflect the ethos of the business. The clearest example we can share is from marketing a stately home – we were never to describe it as “old-fashioned,” but we were allowed to use the words “historic” and “traditional.” It’s easy to think of these words as synonyms, but they actually have subtly different meanings that are key to sharing the right marketing messages.
Tone of voice guides are very useful and save your marketing team a lot of time. They will also save you having to write a fresh brief for every piece of copy you commission. And if your business changes direction, nothing could be simpler than reviewing the tone of voice guide.
I outsource my content marketing – why does tone of voice matter to me?
Tone of voice matters because you will be marketing your business in person as well as through the written word. If you have a shop, how do you greet your customers? What does your answerphone message sound like? How do you describe your business when you’re networking?
When your tone of voice is well thought through, every communication you make will reinforce your brand and work towards new conversions. But you’ll be glad to hear that because the tone of voice started with you and your best customers, sticking to it when you’re giving a presentation shouldn’t be difficult at all.
Content marketing with Yazaroo
If you feel your business tone of voice needs a shake up, we’d love to help. Give Ed and Charlotte at Yazaroo a call – it’s time to refine your brand.