Let’s talk tone
You’ve got the logo; you’ve agreed your mission and brand values and come up with the way you want your literature to look and feel.
But what about the way you communicate with your customers? How do you say what you do and what you offer? More to the point, how do you want to make your customers feel? This is where tone of voice comes in.
A very good way to remember the value of tone of voice is the following statement:
Your customers might not always remember exactly what you said – but they will remember how you made them feel.
Why is tone of voice important?
I suppose you can say it’s the same in life. How you communicate with another person, or group of people, leaves a lasting impression – about you! It’s not what you say, it’s the way that you say it.
The same can be said about a business. Use too many technical terms with a non-technical audience and you will quickly lose their interest. The opposite is also true.
At Mackman, we carry out audience and customer research as part of our process to come up with a communication toolkit for clients that strikes the right note.
It’s about understanding the profile of your customer base so you can use an appropriate tone of voice. For example – informal, formal, chatty, witty, serious, discerning, plain-speaking – to name just a few to get your message across in the right way.
By taking time to understand their audiences, we help our clients build a vocabulary that is perfectly suited to their brand’s marketing activities, resonating with customers’ needs, wants and desires.
Tone of voice examples
Cars and supermarkets. They are two very different sectors but here are a couple of examples useful for the purpose of illustrating tone of voice. Take Aldi and M&S.
Aldi’s communication concentrates on costs. Good value shopping for less, in a nutshell.
The conversation is about what more you can buy at Aldi for the cost of the same product bought at another supermarket. It’s about creating a feeling of living well but not having to shell out as much money; paying less for more. Their tone of voice leaves you thinking it’s great value.
On the other hand, whilst M&S concentrates on high quality good food, its tone of voice focusses on indulgence, a premium brand, gratifying and satisfying. It’s not just any food….it’s M&S food.
Consider BMW and Dacia Cars Duster. Tone of voice for BMW is about aspiration, design and craft, powerful machines, a premium brand. Duster’s is about function and form, value for money, efficiency, fun. The way they communicate with you reflects this.
What is tone of voice?
Successful brands take tone of voice very seriously. Virgin’s brand guidelines even lay down the way employees must speak to customers. They like cheeky wit – but not dad jokes!
These rules are what give brands their unique tone of voice and consistency in their dealings with all their customers – whether in marketing literature, on radio or tv advertising, face-to-face or by phone.
Tone of voice is really your brand character. Are you funny, are you serious, are you edgy, are you likeable and approachable?
When you’ve got widget to sell, or services to offer, it’s very easy to become so focussed on selling widgets and services that you don’t think about how your customers think and feel about the way your company communicates with them.
Once you find your tone of voice, all communications must reflect this. Only by consistent application, and by the repetition of this voice in everything you do, will you succeed in ensuring people understand your brand, engage with it, and fully understand what you stand for.