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 engage with 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. This allows us 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 a travel brand and our main clients are gap year students, we’ll want to be less formal and more laid back. In contrast, if we’re communicating with corporate professionals, we may want to be less casual.

Whilst we probably have a good idea of who our target market is, there’s no harm in digging deeper into the age, gender, interests and profession. This will help us to build a full profile of our potential customers.  We can then use this 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.

tone of voice
Screenshot of some audience demographics within Meltwater Engage
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. 

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 humorous, is part of their company culture and how the company began.

tone of voice

Dan Germain- Innocent’s Head of Creative, is an inspiration when it comes to branding and helping companies develop their own tone of voice. Read an interview with him on tone of voice here and give him a follow on twitter.

“All we’ve done since we launched in 1999 is tell our story our way. There was no strategy or theory behind it 14 years ago, we were just trying to make each other laugh and that’s how we try to keep it.” says Dan.

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.

tone of voice

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. For more about how brands can use emojis see our blog.

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 will 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

Its important to moderate your brand’s tone of voice depending on the situation. 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 necessary.  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. Not everyone will understand the terminology. As a rule of thumb, just keep your 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 over time. We recommend tracking six months of social engagements. Next, analyse 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. 

Remember, it will take time for your tone of voice to impact your brand engagement, so just because you don’t see results initially, doesn’t mean you’ve failed!

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? Fill out the form below and we’ll be in touch with a personal consultation for your company!