Knowing the difference between tone and voice — and employing such expertise — in blogs, advertising, and any other content you produce for your business is the difference between maintaining an unorganized brand or a consistent one.
Tone and voice: Why bother?
One of the first tenets of good messaging is consistency. Brands set themselves apart from their competition by establishing tone versus voice, and using both to communicate with customers across all channels.
Brand consultancy Interbrand found, in its 2016 Best Global Brands report, that a big part of what makes brands like Apple so valuable is the company’s consistent communication with customers using one narrative.
Using tone and voice respectively — and appropriately — helps you stay consistent with your narrative.
It’s part of your messaging architecture.
And if you are wondering what that is, check out this piece.
Honing in on both the right tone and the right voice for your brand will underscore your overall messaging infrastructure — a vital component to any brand seeking longevity, consistency, and ongoing sales.
What is voice?
Voice is the unique, distinct expression of your brand through words. It conveys the overarching personality of your brand through prose, ads, emails, — any content you produce.
You can employ different tones within your voice, however your voice remains the skeleton of your messaging.
- Playful, cheeky and fun?
- Or personal, inspiring, and straightforward?
Rhythm and pace
- Plain and simple?
- Rich and poetic?
These are by no means the limits on the types of voice your brand can boast. A solid messaging and branding exercise should shine more light on the direction your voice should take.
How do you determine your voice?
1. Think about your audience. This is where identifying your buyer personas comes in handy. You’re speaking to them, while staying uniquely you.
2. Gather a representative sample of your content.
- Whittle down your examples unique to your brand
- Group them together perhaps on a whiteboard to see them as a whole.
3. Describe your brand voice in three words.
- If your brand was a person, how would you describe its personality to someone?
- Also talk about how you would describe your competitors as people. Is one of your competitors the class bully? Is another the head cheerleader? How do your brand’s personality traits make you different?
- Then define each one further. Here are 3 examples of brand adjectives further defined:
- Passionate – expressive, enthusiastic, heartfelt, action-oriented
- Quirky – irreverent, unexpected, contrarian
- Authentic – genuine, trustworthy, engaging, direct
4. Create a brand voice chart. Here is how the Content Marketing Institute does it.
- Pass this chart along to every writer so everyone is on the same page about how to put your brand voice into action.
- Revisit and revise this chart as needed as your company evolves.
What is tone?
Wheaton College defines tone as the overall attitude of a piece of writing. Tone is how you use your voice in various situations. (Hint: you’ve heard the phrase “tone of voice.”)
Think of it like real life: You adjust your tone according to who you are talking to and what you are talking about, but your voice remains the same.
For example, if your voice is quirky, is your tone throughout a blog:
How do you determine your tone?
1. Consider the type of content you’re creating.
The tone should be appropriate to the audience and purpose of the piece. While your voice should be appropriate to the audience as well, your tone can take liberties depending on what type of content it is.
- Memes? Whimsical, cajoling.
- White papers? Authoritative, straightforward.
2. Style plays a role in tone.
- Short, quippy sentences can make for a humorous tone.
- Long, intricate ones can make for a more serious one.
Let’s say you’re a telecom agent who wants to make customers feel relieved that they don’t have to worry about their technology, cared for because you handle all the arrangements and installation, and that they can trust you as the expert.
Options for these tones might include adjectives such as:
Ready to refine your brand?
Arm yourself with these tips, and you’re well on your way to creating some solid, vital brand messaging. If you’re looking for help, though, Mojo happens to be the expert in branding exercises that include determining tone, voice, and how to employ them for lead generation. Let us know how you’re doing with your own messaging, or if you’d like some expert advice.