What’s your tone of voice, when it comes to your business?
Do you even know what a tone of voice is? (Some people refer to it as a TOV, or their business branding).
And why is it even important?
It’s how you speak to people
If you have kids, you’ll know what I mean by ‘tone of voice’. Depending upon what your kids have done, your tone of voice changes.
They feel overwhelmed or worried — you speak to them in an encouraging, reassuring way.
They’ve taken to your newly painted walls with felt pens — your tone is more authoritative (and perhaps even a little scary!)
In the examples above, your tone of voice gives away clues as to how your message should be received. And usually, there’s no doubt that your kids know when they’re in trouble. Am I right?
A business TOVYour TOV defines your business so all you come into contact with know who you are and what you’re about. Click To Tweet
However, your business tone of voice should be consistent. It shouldn’t change according to who your customers are, or what time of day it is.
Your TOV defines the character of your business. It leaves an impression, so that all who come into contact with your business know who you are and what you’re about. It’s more about how you say things, rather than the things you say.
Your TOV is your business branding. It’s an expression of your brand personality and values. Knowing who you are as a business entity, and standing by that consistently, builds trust with your audience.
When your target audience understands exactly what they can expect from your business, they feel comforted and assured. They know there’s not likely to be any nasty little surprises if they choose to do business with you, and this will help them transition from window-shopper, into paying client.
Forms the basis of all your communications
Your TOV clearly defines all elements of your communication strategy — web copy, social media, email correspondence, sales materials, annual reports, print marketing, and visual presentations. With a clear TOV, you can ensure that your message and branding is consistent across all channels. This strengthens your brand, and continues to build trust.
How complicated does it have to be?
As complicated as you want it to be. Most TOV documents contain:
your brand (i.e. what do you do/sell/trade in)
voice guidelines (i.e. are you authorative, fun, flexible, cutting edge, young and hip, etc.)
your brand principles (i.e. what values do you stand for)
your brand personality (i.e. how you want people to see you)
customer avatars (i.e. who are your ideal customers and what are their needs?)
It may also include a Style Guide, which is basically rules and conventions about how your message should be written.
Some TOV documents also include graphical elements (e.g. logo and its usage, typography, and colours used in communications).
Generally speaking, the larger the company, the more detailed and complex the TOV and branding guidelines are likely to be.
How is it used
Whether you’re marketing to the masses, or talking to an individual client, the words you use are your most powerful tool. So, you should be consistent across all communication strategies and mediums.
Your TOV document can be used by in-house staff who drafting up emails or letters. It can be used by staff who answer the phone and deal with administrative enquiries. It can be passed on to external contractors such as graphic designers and copywriters, to ensure your message and branding is consolidated and strengthened. When it forms part of a client brief for a creative freelancer, you significantly increase the likelihood of getting exactly what you’re after.
All in all, the more consistent you are, the more likely your audience understands what makes you stand out from the crowd. And when your business stands out from the crowd, you’re a force to be reckoned with.
Need to develop one?
Investing the time and money into developing your branding and TOV is one of the most important things you’ll ever do. Without it, you run the risk of your communications and marketing strategies being wishy-washy and vague.
If you’re convinced you need to put together a TOV document, and take the next step in defining your business brand, contact me now.
I’ll take you through a step-by-step process to help you identify your brand, values and voice, so you can be sure you’re communicating consistently and accurately with your audience every single time.
Are you ready for more effective communication?