How to Develop a Consistent Tone of Voice for Your Brand
Your social presence is an extension of your brand; you can use it reach a community of existing and potential customers more easily than simply placing ads and hoping for the best. Unfortunately, on rented properties like Facebook and Instagram, you do not have as much control over the look of your brand compared to conversing through your own website or blog.
But when your branding is so consistent it can stand on its own regardless of site, network or location, you are helping your audience to understand, remember and—hopefully—prefer your brand.
Notice we said brand, not logo. Try this simple exercise concocted by Wall Street Journal best-selling author, Ann Hadley:
Cover the logo on your website. Do you sound different, unique—like yourself? Or do you sound like everyone else—including your competitors? In other words: if the label fell off, would your customers know it was you?
Therefore, your tone of voice is how the essence of your brand comes through in words: both written and spoken. Think of your brand as a person—your logo is like the uniform they would wear, while their character and mannerisms would make up tone of voice.
Remember, tone of voice isn’t about what you say but, rather, how you say it. The first step is to define what makes you 'you' by reflecting on questions like:
Why did you start your business?
What's different or special about the way you do business?
How do you want your customers to feel when they interact with you?
If your brand was a person, how would you describe them? A wise aunt full of practical wisdom? A trusted friend who's always got your back? A learned professor whose facts are backed up by reliable data?
Once you've reflected on these, write down three to five words that best define who you are. These will be your brand values. Avoid unoriginal, bland or vague words like 'friendly', 'authentic', ‘edgy'. Instead, think about comparable emotive or descriptive words like ‘inclusive’, ‘steadfast’, ‘rebellious’. This is where a thesaurus comes in handy!
The next step is to flesh out those brand values by adding more detail and framing these ideas in a practical context. If one of your values is 'delightful', what does that mean? In what way does your product or service bring joy to your customers? If your brand is a 'rebel’, what specific principles does it stand for or against? Jot down at least one specific example next to each brand value.
Finally, have a copy of these brand values handy, so you can refer back to them before you post. This is especially helpful if you have multiple people managing your communications, as it ensures everyone is on the same page. The best part? Your brand’s voice remains consistent and before you know it, you’ve created a recognisable personality that your target audience wants to interact with.