There are a lot of brands out there in the digital landscape. It can be tough to stand out from all the noise. So many businesses are trying to sell their wares. So how can you get your audience to listen to you? How can they hear your voice amongst the white noise?
What is Brand Tone of Voice?
A brand tone of voice is an excellent step in distinguishing yourself from your competition. How do you determine what your tone of voice is? How do you know if it’s the right tone of voice for you? And why does it matter? If you have the best products or services in the world, why should you even bother with a tone of voice?
A brand tone of voice is a distinct personality for your brand. Think of the cheeky M&M’s or the lifestyle tone of voice that Coca-Cola offers you. You want to think of your target audience and how to speak to them, and you also want to consider how your content speaks in general. If you are your brand, that consideration is vital.
It is the Values of your brand
You need values for your company, things that you believe, and ways in which your business operates.
StudioHawk has Four main values we operate by:
- Embrace Opportunity – if we see a chance to do something good, for a client, for the community, or the business, we’ll take it. At the start of 2021, we took a chance and started a separate Content Writing team, and it exploded. We also took a chance to launch a distinct Digital PR team, and it too has flourished.
- Integrity– there are many dodgy people in the digital space, and we want to stand apart from them and be proud of who we are and what we do. We do not abide by lock-in contracts. We believe we’re good enough to keep you as a client no matter what. On the flip side of that, we’ll be honest with you and say if you need us or not. We’re not going to sign you up just to take your money.
- Transparent – we are open and honest with what we do and how we do it. We’re not hiding any SEO secrets. If you want to know more about SEO, check out our Hawk Academy and learn some basics for free.
- Fun – you have to enjoy your work and your workplace; otherwise, it just becomes a grind.
What you read on our blogs reflects these values. We try to inject some fun, we tell you how things are, honestly, and we stand behind what we say. If we wrote any differently, it wouldn’t sit well with us, and you’d notice we weren’t ourselves.
Look at your business and the values you uphold. How can you reflect those values in the words you write?
It is the Personality of your Brand
What kind of personality does your brand have?
Is your brand like Captain America?
- Will not cuss.
Is your brand’s personality more like Tony Stark?
- Doesn’t work well with authority?
- Smart and a bit of a smart arse?
It can sometimes help you visualise your brand’s tone of voice if you can link it to a fictional character. You can even borrow words and phrases they use in their movies or books to help ground the tone of voice.
It is the Story of your Brand
We all love a good story. Stories are the bedrock upon which society was built, on which all communication was born. Okay, that is quite a hefty statement to say, but we’ve loved stories around campfires for thousands of years. We connect with brands that can give us a good story that we can relate to.
Think of car commercials. While they may tell you about features of the car, you see things like people taking their SUVs to beaches and camping or zipping around the city. You get a narrative of how you can use that vehicle. There is a 4WD drive brand whose ad has no voice-over and no music. It is just two people camping by the ocean, and that is all you hear.
What story do you and your brand have? Why are you in business? Who do you want to help? Where have you come from, your origin story? Where are you going to go?
Brand Voice- why does it matter?
We’ve already said that it is noisy out there on the digital marketplace, so having a tone of voice that sets you apart will help you get noticed. There is a particular seller of tiles on the radio in Australia. As soon as he says “hello”, you know exactly who it is, what they sell, and how you’re going to get bathroom tile bargains. We probably don’t need to mention the brand, and you’re already hearing his voice and know the company.
It Identifies You
Much like the beloved tile salesman from above, your tone of voice identifies you. When you release an article or comment on social media, are people expecting something funny, something bawdy, or well-written, researched, and informed?
Will your readers read your words and feel like you’re a loving parent, an inspirational mentor, or a harsh drill sergeant? None of these tones of voices are wrong of themselves. If you want to build muscle, lose weight and get fit, perhaps the drill sergeant is what you need to read.
It builds trust.
Readers come to your blog, to your YouTube or Social Media channels wanting to see their brands and feel like they’re reconnecting with an old friend. The message you deliver with your content is consistent with who and what you are and what you represent. This builds up trust amongst your followers over time.
This trust can convert into solid sales channels. In marketing, people have to get to know you, like you, and then trust you before they buy from you. If your message is true to your values, and consistent, that trust is built, and your profits will grow.
You easily hit your target audience.
You can sell to anyone, but you can’t market to everyone. You need to find a voice that resonates with your target audience. This can be a little bit of a chicken or egg scenario.
- Do you research who your ideal target audience is, research their wants and needs and voice, and service that?
- Do you create your brand and a voice to match your values and let the target audience find you?
How to find your Tone of Voice
Following on from above, your tone of voice can begin with your target audience.
- Who do you want to buy your products and service?
- What are the demographics of your target audience, and is there a language they use?
- Are there specific words and phrases linked to your product and service?
- Is your tone of voice related to your niche?
- Who is it on your team who decides?
If you have a niche audience, this can dictate your tone of voice and make it easier to establish your sound.
Perhaps you own a costume shop. Your clients include theatre companies and some theme parks. But you also have a big Halloween sale every year.
Your audience is in the arts industry, and you can play with theatre directions, mimic The Bard, and much more.
Another target audience could be parents whose children want a costume party. Your tone of voice would be sympathetic, talking about how easier it is to hire a costume than make one.
On the other hand, if you own a car shop that specialises in restoring old hot rods, your audience is into fast cars, hi-octane fuel, shiny chrome, classic cars, and more. Your language would be more ‘masculine’, talking about horsepower, timing, long drives along the coast, and more. It would be authoritative about motor vehicles, but also passionate about loving cars as well.
A good tip when figuring out your tone of voice is to create an avatar of your target audience and imagine having a conversation with them. Alternatively, you build an avatar of your tone of voice and imagine talking in their voice.
How do your audience talk to each other?
Find out where your audience hangs out online, and see how they talk to each other. You can find this audience in many places:
- Social media groups.
- Comments on popular blogs.
- Twitter discussions.
- Forum boards.
Does your audience use slang to describe the products and services? Do they engage with any pop culture influences or memes?
Ask your audience.
You can have a survey to ask your intended target audience how they see your brand. You may want to see yourself as a fun kind of brand, but if your target audience needs serious help, you change the tone of voice to be more mature, mentor style.
Audit your content.
Look at the content you have, and review the content you’re going to write.
- Does it reflect your values and mission statement?
- Does it resonate with your target audience?
- Does it convey your message clearly?
- Does it sound like how you speak?
Tone of voice Do’s and Don’t’s
- Foul language – Understand what you can say and what you can’t say with your tone of voice. While being jocular and using slang may be okay, swearing and other anti-social language would not be okay.
- Other brands – Mentioning competitor brands might not be okay for legal reasons, but implying them and comparing yourself to them without blatantly mentioning them could be okay.
- Grammar– People like to find grammar mistakes and tell you all about them. Sometimes that can be a part of your tone of voice. If so, be consistent. Otherwise, make sure your grammar and spelling is correct to maintain authority over your work.
- Keep it simple – Don’t try to be too over the top creative with your tone of voice. You’re going to have to use it a lot, so keeping it simple is so much easier in the long run. Also, the easier it is to understand, the easier it is for an SEO copywriter to get it right.
- Don’t be afraid to change – It is okay to evolve and change over time. What is fun and upbeat in one era may change to more grown-up and mature in the next. Be able to change with the times to capture a broader audience.
You need a tone of voice to stand out from the crowd, to have a personality that people will remember. When you speak with StudioHawk, we hope that the knowledge and fun you read in the blogs and articles is reflected in the Account Managers and SEO Experts you talk to over the phone.
Don’t be afraid to define your tone of voice as differently from others as possible. Don’t be scared to take a few calculated risks to get your message across.
Now you know why you need a Tone of Voice and how it works for you, fill in our Tone of Voice worksheet, to help you define yours and to help our copywriters emulate it.