Finding Your Brand’s Tone of Voice: The Do’s and Don’ts

In this blog we’ll be looking at how to create a tone of voice to use across your communications.

Why tone of voice is important:
  • Enhances customer experience:
    Drives culture, community and conversation.
  • Humanises our brand:
    Showing off a personality reminds our audience that humans are behind the company or Twitter account.
  • Encourages interaction:
    Writing conversationally invites customers to get involved in our brand.
  • Creates a consistent brand image:
    Uniformity across the way we communicate, strengthens the core values we’re trying to portray, which makes our brand image more consistent.  
DO get to know your audience

As comms professionals, we know how important it is to understand our audience in order to target our outreach appropriately. The same applies with tone of voice. Just like in real life, we should adapt our communication style to who we are talking to. For example, if we’re STA Travel and our main clients are gap year students, we’ll want to be less formal and more laid back than if we’re communicating with corporate professionals.

Whilst we probably have a good idea of who our target market is, digging deeper into the age, gender, interests and professions in order to build a full profile will provide further insights that we can then use to build an appropriate tone of voice. How do we do this? Analyse client data, create surveys and use media monitoring. We can use a media monitoring tool such as Meltwater Engage to track the demographics of each social platform.

media monitoring

DO create a brand personality

Conveying a personality makes a brand more likeable and approachable. Consider the following questions:

  • What makes our brand unique?
  • What do we stand for?
  • What kind of culture do we promote within the brand?
  • Who is our audience?

Taking these answers on board, we can decide on what unique qualities we want to portray through our communications. Based on these qualities, we can devise strategies around how to communicate them. This article is packed full of ways to shape your tone of voice.

Consider Innocent Drinks – their unique tone of voice is notorious in the marketing world. They use an informal, light-hearted tone and often post quirky puns and blog posts. One reason why Innocent’s tone of voice is so successful, is because it is authentic. Being quirky and humourous is part of their company culture and how the company began. Dan Germain- Innocent’s Head of Creative, is an inspiration when it comes to branding and helping companies develop their own tone of voice.

Creating a brand voice chart can be helpful for understanding how our unique qualities can be implemented in tone of voice. See this example by the Content Marketing Institute.

media monitoring

DON’T be too cheesy

A word of caution though, if we are appealing to a young or laid-back audience, trying to be ‘down with the kids’ may come across as cheesy or inauthentic. Whilst in certain situations there’s nothing wrong with the odd emoji or meme, sending a tweet full of emoticons and slang may stop us from being taken seriously.

DO keep it conversational

Whilst this goes against everything we were told at school, write as though you’re directly talking to your customer. Writing conversationally will boost engagement because it has personality and human qualities behind it. It should also increase readership.

DON’T forget that tone can be wrongly interpreted

It can happen to the best of us, we send an ironic or sarcastic text, and the receiver misinterprets it differently. Brits are notoriously sarcastic, but it can be difficult to detect sarcasm in a tweet or Facebook post. This could leave us in a very sticky situation, especially if the interpretation of the message causes offence or leads to incorrect information processing.

DO adapt your tone of voice based on the reason why you’re communicating

Moderating our brand’s tone of voice depending on the situation is important. We can still be authentic while adapting how much we push our brand’s personality. If we’re handling complaints or important information, a more formal tone is important. If we’re sharing general conversation and links to content, we can be a bit more informal. Finally, when pushing a competition, event or sharing good news, we can play with our language even more.  Showing off our brand’s personality can attract attention and yield greater buzz – a meme or emoji may be appropriate in this kind of situation.

DON’T use jargon

Abbreviations and industry talk may come naturally to us, however, we should avoid using jargon in external comms as not everyone will understand the terminology. As a rule of thumb, just keep language as simple and unambiguous as possible.

DO measure your success

So, now we have a tone of voice that is being implemented across all of our comms. Now it’s time to measure whether people are responding to it in the way that we had hoped? Social media monitoring can help us understand how the public has engaged with our brand overtime. We recommend tracking six months of social engagements and analysing whether engagement has increased and also whether the engagement is positive or negative. We can benchmark our social media channels before and after implementing a new tone of voice using a media monitoring tool to assist us.

To wrap it up:
  • Write conversationally
  • Keep language simple and easy to understand
  • Consider your brand’s key values, convey them through tone of voice
  • Be aware that your tone can be misinterpreted
  • Understand your audience
  • Use media monitoring to measure your success

Want to know more about how media monitoring can be used to improve customer experience? Drop us an email

Instagram Communications: Defining the Editorial Line in B2B

It’s no secret that Instagram is a great platform for generating B2C brands revenue. However, resource investment from B2B companies is significantly lower. According to the latest Social Media Examiner study, 54% of surveyed marketers now use Instagram, 63% plan to increase their activity on Instagram, and 71% want to know more about how to use this channel. It sounds like every man and his dog is paying attention to Insta right now, which means our competitors are also likely to be… and so we should be too!

Why is an editorial line on Instagram important?

Our editorial line is something that sets us apart from competitors. It enables us to position our brand in a precise way, creating a clear voice for our content to make it easier for our audience to anticipate what kind of content they’re likely to find by following us. Our editorial line must align across the various communication channels we choose to use in order to bring cohesion to all forms of content.

How to define your editorial line on Instagram?

At this stage of reflection, we must ask ourselves several questions:

What is my target?

We wouldn’t talk the same way to a teenager as we would to a Marketing Director or CEO. We must adapt our speech if we wish to resonate with our audience. We can use data provided by Instagram to know the behaviour of our audience and adapt our content accordingly so that it’s always relevant.

What are my competitors up to?

It’s good to be competitive, competitiveness is a trait all winners have in common! Keeping a watchful eye on our competitive landscape is essential before being present on any communication channel, not just Instagram. We should observe which subjects are the most talked about across our industry, and drill down further to understand which messages are resonating in a positive light, and what themes don’t appeal to our audience. A media monitoring tool such as Meltwater can help during this process.

What are the trends around our brand, competition or industry?

Trend spotting is very important if we wish to stay one step ahead of the competition and position ourself as a leader. We can take a look at trending influencer accounts and take inspiration from them or analyse the hashtags our audience use the most.

It’s wise to moderate the use of popular hashtags if we have an account with few subscribers as it’s easy for our content to drown in the mass of messages that come along with using a popular hashtag. Remember, whilst it’s tempting to increase impressions, not all impressions are important. We’d recommend varying between popular hashtags and custom hashtags to create our own brand image.

Once we have the answers to our above questions, it’s time for us to choose:

  • The language used: Should we opt for professional jargon or a more familiar voice?
  • The tone: Are we a humorous or serious brand?
  • Hashtags: Have we made a list of the best hashtags to use on Instagram? Do we know which ones will be the most relevant?
  • Colours: ‘sall about the filters on Instagram. Choose one and stick to it to remain uniform and recognisable.
  • Content: What are we going to talk about? Remember, it’s not all about us and it’s good practice to post images that represent our brand image and lifestyle of our audience

Some ideas for content to share:

A peek behind the scenes:

People who follow us are likely to be interested in what happens behind closed office doors. Let them take a peek and see what it’s like working for our company through the eyes of our employees, what our workplace looks like, learn more about the wider brand community and other customers etc.




Customer Loyalty vs. Brand Advocacy – Why They Are Different

It’s not uncommon to hear C-suite, sales teams and some marketers using Customer Loyalty interchangeably with Brand Advocacy. However, the two in fact are not the same, and their differences may not be as subtle as you’d think. Regardless of your role or responsibility at your company, it’s imperative to understand why the two are different and what you need to consider for the two.

Let’s check out a couple of different scenarios…

Scenario 1:

Imagine you’re a B2B or B2C business and you sell a particular product or service to Customer A. A is a fan of your offering because they recognize the tangible or intangible value of the offering – be it implied status, functionality, gratification etc. B likes it so much that they come back consistently to renew or repurchase the product from your business.

Scenario 2:

In some cases, it’s possible that Customer A does not even like the product that much, but they come back to renew and repurchase from Business A because of the comfort or convenience factor. While this certainly helps your bottom line, you’re not doing anyone, especially yourself a favour when you recognize this segment and don’t do anything about it.

In both the above scenarios, Customer A may be considered a Loyal Customer of your business, however not yet a Brand Advocate . In several companies, loyalty is only measured by repeat purchases, which both the above scenarios would positively qualify for. However, when you add an additional dimension to gauge actual loyalty through surveys, you’ll find that only Scenario 1 qualifies. This is why businesses need to look beyond financial metric of repeat purchases to measure and ensure true loyalty (cue in Brand Advocacy).

Scenario 3:

Now imagine that Customer A loves your product or service and shares reviews or speaks about your brand or products to others in various forums and on their social channels. They endorse your brand by simply sharing their delightful experience, which in turn, influences others to the value of your offering. Simply put, this Loyal Customer is a Brand Advocate because of the actions they’ve taken to prove they believe in your brand.

The important differentiating factors about Brand Advocates is that they can also be anyone who comes into contact with your brand – employees, journalists and non-customers. Brand Advocates are super fans of your business because they believe in your brand, your customer experience, your mission etc. and will shout your name from the rooftops. The advantages of Brand Advocacy are numerous including word-of-mouth marketing, free testimonials, amplification of your brand and increased brand trust, which will all ultimately positively impact your bottom line by way of new and repeat customers.

To summarize, marketers should not only consider Customer Loyalty but should also expand their outlook to consider Brand Advocates and analyze engagement KPIs like mentions and sentiment. Focusing on only financial KPIs such as repeat purchases will leave room for a competitor to swoop and steal business. To survive in the long term, companies must first ensure a strong brand reputation and have an awesome customer experience before they can build a community of Brand Advocates.

In an ideal world, everyone who comes into contact with your business would be your Brand Advocate. However, this is much easier said than done.

How does your company identify Brand Advocates today? Speak to Meltwater about identifying potential Brand Advocates on social.