If you’ve ever worked with or read a creative brief from an ad or marketing agency, you’ve probably seen the term tone-of-voice thrown around before. While it may seem insignificant at first, it’s actually something super important that brands can easily overlook—especially if multiple people are writing on their behalf.
Tone-of-voice isn’t so much about what you say, but more so how you say it—and a consistent tone-of-voice is critical to help you stand out and become an authority in your industry.
How do I define my brand’s voice?
Below are some tips and questions you can ask yourself to help find your brand’s tone-of-voice. We suggest documenting your tone and distributing it internally so that it’s always handy when someone is communicating on behalf of your business.
Tip 1: Who is my target audience?
Are they older, younger, nerdy, professional? Get to know your clients, and speak to them in the most natural way possible. Think beyond your audiences’ job titles and try to envision the type of person they are and the things that may motivate them to read and take action.
It’s okay to make some assumptions here–just make sure you have a clear reason on why you think something might be true amongst your target demographic and be prepared to test against that assumption in your brand’s writing.
Tip 2: “I” vs. “We”?
When communicating for your brand, do you usually say “I” (as in a singular person), or “we” (as in the collective brand)? Whichever way you go is a matter of brand preference, but it’s essential to your brand voice and credibility that whichever you pick, you stay consistent with that decision.
Tip 3: Pick two adjectives
Pick two adjectives that you can filter your content through. Is your brand professional & friendly, casual & fun, irreverent & profane?—Pick two, and be consistent with aligning your brand voice to that tone throughout your communications.
Tip 4: Should I ever stray from my tone?
Maybe—sometimes circumstances may require us to, at least temperately, modify our brand voice. For example: Say a natural disaster happens in your area, you might not want to be irreverent and profane directly after.
There’s no hard and fast rule here, just try and be thoughtful to the context of what you’re conveying to make sure it does right by your brand.
Tip 5: If you can’t say anything nice . . .
Just like mom used to say, sometimes you just shouldn’t say anything at all. It’s a popular trend for companies to take cultural and political stands on certain issues, and sometimes it makes sense, but not always. Don’t take a stance just to take a stance. Be strategic and run the situation through the filter of your company values and tone-of-voice.