Why tone of voice matters
The way something is said is described as the tone of voice. In content writing, it is a product of the words you choose and the structure of your sentences.
Tone of voice reflects personality and for organisations it is integral to their brand — just as much as their logo.
Tone of voice enables organisations to:
- stand-out from their competitors
- communicate their personality and values
- attract and keep customers.
Developing tone of voice
It takes time to identify and develop an organisation’s tone of voice — its values and personality must be carefully considered.
Here are some steps you can take:
- Talk to stakeholders: How do your employees, suppliers and customers perceive your organisation? Is it serious and formal or casual and laid-back? Which of your competitors’ voices do they like or dislike?
- Audit your content: This can be a mammoth task, even for a small organisation, but it is worth the effort. Review website pages, brochures and proposal templates, etc. Is the tone of voice consistent throughout? Do parts clash with what you are trying to achieve?
- Review your brand: Tone of voice is part of your overall brand. Does it match the image your organisation projects? It should. So, if your website’s home page depicts serious people doing serious things, of course, fluffy, colloquial language is not appropriate.
It’s easy to fall into the trap of altering the tone of voice for different market segments. After all, shouldn’t we, like chameleons, mirror our audiences? Yes, but tone of voice must be consistent. Instead, it’s content that should change (blog posts or white papers, for example). When an organisation is inconsistent with its tone of voice, it can be perceived as ‘fake’.
Set some rules
For this reason, consistent tone of voice is important. But, when several people are producing content, this can be difficult to achieve.
It pays to set some rules.
The Copy Collective established a style guide. For example, we don’t use question marks in a blog post’s main headline; we also spell out numbers below 10 unless associated with measurements.
A style guide can also include:
- Values: For example, it may state: ‘When we write, we are always friendly, polite and helpful.’
- Language: Which words should you use or avoid? For example, for a friendly tone, your style guide may instruct writers to use ‘you’ and ‘we’. If you are an IT support company, it may advise avoiding technical jargon, which could confuse and intimidate customers.
What is your organisation’s personality? What are its values? Make sure you communicate clearly with a consistent tone of voice. And when you are done writing in the correct tone, be a better proof reader by following these great tips.