Whether you are writing for a multinational company or you are a one-person business, you know that your company's brand is the very soul of everything you do. Your brand is how potential customers will see you, how they'll feel about you, and that will either attract them or turn them away.
Companies spend millions on their branding, rethinking everything from logos to color swatches to ad and web design to the architecture of their buildings. And all that matters, but the voice which is used to convey those messages is sometimes lost.
Your company's voice and brand are two different things. You can look at your tone of voice as one aspect of branding, but it is easily as large as all the other aspects of brand put together.
Put simply, your voice is part of everything your company says, both internally (in communication between your company's members, be them employees, executives, or external contract workers) and externally (everything your company says to the rest of the world.)
Your company's tone of voice is part of advertising, content marketing, customer service, social networking—any time your business uses words to communicate to the world.
So how can you make sure your business is putting out the right voice? How can you contribute to a unique, unified voice, no matter how large or small your part is in the machine that is your company?
A Unique Voice
First, finding your company's voice is not as easy as some people may imagine.
Think about how many hours of work go into other parts of branding. A logo may go through multiple iterations, designs and redesigns, meeting after meeting with various consultants and executives, ending up costing more in time and money than some buildings. Why? Because hitting home in your customers' minds and hearts with the right logo will not only increase sales; it will also solidify who you are as a company for decades to come.
Something as simple as a logo is given incredible emphasis because the average businessman knows how much of an impact a logo can have. But what about voice? It deserves just as much time and thought.
And that voice must be unique, as well.
Imagine designing a logo that is 90% like the competition's. Not only would that fail to make your brand stand out, but it will also make you look like a cheap imitation of the other guy. And, as a worst case scenario, the competition could sue. Yikes!
In a similar way, the tone of voice you choose for your company's brand must be unique. It can't sound the same as everyone else. It must be custom made to fit the vision you (or your employers) have for the business and brand.
This article from Entrepreneur.com has some questions you can use to start defining what your brand's voice should be. The last of them is especially useful: "How do you want to be regarded by customers and your community?" In other words, when people read your content or interact with you via social media, they will paint a picture of the kind of person or people they are dealing with based on the tone of the communication.
Will you be friendly? Professional? Informative and intellectual? How about down-to-earth? Or compassionate? Or, perhaps, some combination of a few of those adjectives and a few others.
It is important to be as specific as possible. In other words, if someone were to read only the text of your company's content, would they be able to recognize the specific qualities you've chosen as part of your voice, without seeing your logo or design decisions? Would the tone of the text alone be enough to attract the right kind of customers, those that fit your buyer persona(s)?
If so, then your brand's voice is unique and, therefore, more powerful.
One, Unified Voice
You know that the tone of voice of your company and brand is crucial. But let's say you are not a one-person-business owner. Any business of more than one person, large or small, will need coordination and open communication to establish and maintain one unified voice throughout the company.
The larger the business, the harder this can be. Large international corporations, or even just companies that operate across the nation, can easily confuse their voice because people in different locations are contributing to that voice. If you're not careful, that unique voice you envisioned can get muddied by too many people interpreting it in their own way.
Many companies have one person or team for social media, another for content on the main website, another for email campaigns, etc. What can be the danger in that?
If those distinct people or teams, who may even answer to different departments within the organization of your company, are not clear on what the tone of voice of your brand should be, the result could be chaos.
So how can you make sure your business is putting out one unified voice?
If you are an executive in your company, you can make sure all the different teams know exactly what qualities your voice should project. You could send out regular samples of prime examples of the tone you want to maintain. Or you could even appoint a person or team or people to be in charge of that voice, constantly communicating with different teams, internal and external, to make sure everyone is on the same page when it comes to brand’s tone of voice.
But what if you are just another worker, perhaps a content marketer, in one small division of a massive company? Study intently all communications, internal and external, to stay up-to-date on what voice the company is already using, and harmonize with that voice in every way you can.
You can also petition that line of communication be set up with other teams in the company structure, such as social media, customer service, and advertising, so you can all agree on the tone of voice you are using.
Often, if you can convince the right executive that voice is important, you can help foster change, making your job much easier.
Tone of Voice and Content
If you use an AI like CONCURED to provide suggestions on keywords, topics, and other marketing and SEO decisions, you are giving your content a critical edge that can cut through the noise already flooding the internet today.
And on top of this you can add the appropriate tone of voice, you’re giving yourself a better chance of success.
No matter what topic you write about, what question you answer, or what marketing plan you follow, tone of voice must be a core part of your overall strategy. If you do manage to make your voice unique and unified, you will make an impact in the hearts and minds of your customers and community in a way that no logo can.
So let every piece of content you produce, long or short, tell your unique story and convey your unique qualities. In that way, you will connect with customers and be remembered for years to come.