Let’s face it - we’re no statisticians, however, when our recent Instagram story poll (@_creativecontent, shameless plug) resulted in 75% of respondents confirming that *No* they did not have an established Tone of Voice for their brand or business we gathered that was a lot. (And much higher than we were anticipating!)
Given this official stat, we’re throwing our hat into the ring once more and asking you, our readers, much of the same: does your brand or business have an established Tone of Voice? Further, if you’re pretty confident that you have achieved consistency in the voice of your emails, captions, website content, and taglines, was it established with strategic intent or just a very *happy accident*? (We asked this on Instagram, too. The result? 50% of respondents were confident that their brand copy always read the same but that the tone they were using to communicate hadn’t been given a long hard think.)
(Please do not contact the Australian Bureau of Statistics with these results - they have no idea who we are.)
Fortunately, this small survey tipped us off to a noticeable gap in the market. Given that an established Tone of Voice is used to build trust, establish connection, and best represent your brand team and values to the market, we thought it best to start the discussion around this pivotal brand asset as soon as possible. (Asset? Absolutely - an established ToV is one of the most reliable, consistent, and investment worthy systems you can plug and play into your business to support marketing, client communications, product development, and more.)
"What?!" You heard us. Establishing a strategic voice for your brand can be one of the keys to operating a successful business, brand, and entrepreneurial day-to-day routine. (No different than creating and implementing a time management system, a payment platform, customer relationship management system, or otherwise.) Just think: a customer approaches your business - have you established how they
Photo Credit: @_creativecontent purchase a product and how you get paid? We bet you have! Next: flashback to your day a week (or more!) when you set up Instagram posts and jot down a few newsletter notes… hearing crickets? No longer! An established Tone of Voice is like a plug and play app - it guides word choice, warmth, formality, and the accessibility of your words to your target audience.
Want to give it a try? First things first - let’s take a look at some of the words you have sent out to clients, contacts, and colleagues as of late. (And don’t say you don’t have the time - this task is one minute, it will increase your overall efficiency, help you better connect with potential clients, *and* we know you’re working from home ;)
Give Your Tone of Voice a 1-Minute Review
Pull up your own email, social media post, and/or website page - Stat. Try to pull up a copy sample that was sent recently and delivered to a client (as opposed to a colleague). Take a quick skim over the words you targeted at your market be it on Instagram or by email. We’re not only looking for a quick spell check (although, please, review your messages before hitting send...), we’re also looking at the word *choice* used to craft your message. Think of your target audience - are the early 20-somethings in their third year of university or middle management professionals leading a team of 6? Does your language choice reflect the words used among your target audience or is a little too… casual? Formal? Academic? (Or, worse yet, industry jargon riddled.)
Find an email *from* a recent client, review, or social media comment. What language did they use? These comments could be a recent review of a product or service you offer, comments trailing a recent IGTV Video, or an ongoing email chain with a regular client. What words stand out among the others? What sentences, questions, or queries are most received? For example, if your client’s feedback after every design draft includes “what is a strapline?”, “what is Q4?”, or “can you please explain what EOS R5 is and why I would need to pay for it?” chances are your choice of words was too jargon heavy (read: too industry specific or technical) for your client to follow. On the contrary, if your TedTalk presentation slides about the global availability of the H5N1 vaccines increasing to 4.9 billion doses per year* includes “World Peace wood B Gr8” we’ll go ahead and assume that you lost the trust of your biomedical community comrades.
Jot down a few dot points about your target market. Assuming you’ve been in business a few months or more, chances are you’ve got a fairly good idea of your target market. (If you’re brand new to business, establish a Tone of Voice from the get-go to meet your audience where they’re at from Day 1!) List out their characteristics like expected occupation, first language, geographic region, age range, and likes and dislikes. Next take a quick skim over your points to get a caricature of your audience - who do you see? If you find that you’ve been catering to a highly educated, professional crowd of marine biologists between the ages of 35 - 50 and using word choices better suited to a Year 9 class of music students, you may have had a breakdown in communication. By envisioning your end user and their communication preferences, you’ll be able to quickly decipher if your recent messages have been expressed in a way that meets your audience where they are at.
We admit - a Tone of Voice needs to walk a fine line between two worlds. On one hand, your language and expressions used need to match and connect with your target audience. On the other, the same words, language, and expressions should represent your brand, team, and product/service values. Need a little clarity?
Let’s return to the TedTalk scenario. We’ll go ahead and assume that the professor giving the presentation was a highly educated person qualified to discuss H5N1 vaccinations to an equally qualified crowd. Not only does “Hey m8” not match the language choice of the audience (we hope) neither does it represent the highly qualified professional on-stage. (“But I’m from Australia!” you say. “Sure!” we say and greeting your audience in a warm, welcoming fashion may best represent your professional and personal values. Keep in mind that “Hey m8” can be reworded as “Hi everyone”, “Thank you for having me, I’m honoured to be here”, or “Hey mate!” without anyone questioning your level of expert status.)
It’s a catch-22, this Tone of Voice business. On one side, you need to decipher what your target market needs to hear to establish connection and familiarity while also best representing your brand. If this all sounds a little scary - fear not! We’re so passionate about the power of words to transform and connect that we’ll be chatting all about TOVs for some time going forward.
So while you’re at home self-developing, giving your personal and professional skills a brush up, or working out like a maniac, do yourself a favour and give your TOV a 1-minute review. It may be a 60-second hard look in the mirror, but you’ll be doing your business and brand a long-haul favour. (And, we’ll be back later this week with the next step down the path of better branded words.) Stay safe everyone and spell check every time!
The CCC Team
*We pulled this fact from the WHO website. Please do not contact us re: H5N1 vaccines.