Tone of Voice and brand identity

“You talkin’ to me?” The Importance of Tone of Voice

How do you talk to your customers? It’s a difficult question to answer, as we all know that it’s not always just what you say, but how you say it that makes the difference.

How you communicate in person, on the web and on your social channels all contribute to your brand identity. But how much thought have you really given to your tone of voice? In our latest blog post, we discuss why a strong tone of voice is so important for brands, and how you can go about establishing yours.

Influence, Convince, Persuade

As marketers, our most basic and honest job description is that we help to sell things. We spend our time shouting about who we are and why we’re so great in the hopes of convincing customers to buy from us, and if you haven’t realised that your tone of voice is a powerful weapon to help you do this, you’re missing a trick.

The words you use and how you use them can impact the way a customer not only feels about you as a brand but also the extent to which they feel compelled to act on your message. For example, which is the more persuasive: “please consider us for your next business venture”, or “we make your life easier– why not give us a call?” I think we can agree the more successful of the two is the latter. Why? It offers you a benefit, engages through the use of a question and also employs a relatively informal tone to suggest a friendly yet firm nature. Ultimately, your tone of voice helps to tell people not just what you do, but who you are.

A Personal Touch

An effective tone of voice will reflect the people behind the brand. It should be a manifestation of the personality of your company and its staff, as well as your values. Talking to a customer as if they’re on your level makes you appear more human and relatable, encouraging positive sentiment.

It’s near impossible to talk about the tone of voice without mentioning smoothie and juice drink brand, Innocent. Their cheeky, informal and humorous way of speaking to their customers both on their packaging and advertising has long been held up as an exemplary case study of the tone of voice.

For example, consider the current headline on their website: “show winter who’s boss”. Both punchy and timely, Innocent uses the simple language we use on an everyday basis instead of robotic jargon to echo a conversation you’d have with your friends. This breeds trust, authenticity and reassurance.

What Makes You Different Makes You Valuable

Innocent’s tone of voice has the dual benefit of eliciting trust and also allowing the brand to stand out from the crowd. Read any piece of copy and you’d be able to instantly tell it’s from them, such is the extent to which they’ve established their brand personality and voice in the marketplace. It’s distinctive, unique and recognisable, which does wonders for brand recognition and saliency.

If you sound just like everyone else, you have no point of differentiation that makes a customer choose you over a competitor. You’re likely to all blend into one, and your customer will use just one factor to decide whether or not to choose you: price.

How Can I Create My Brand’s Tone of Voice?

The best kind of tone of voice evolves naturally from who you are as a company and what you believe in, rather than a sudden whim to be funny one day and authoritarian the next. Obviously, that’s not very specific or practical advice, so here’s a list of questions you might want to ask yourself at this stage:

  • What do I want to say to the world?
  • Why was my company established?
  • What makes you different?

Understanding the answers to these questions will help you to better understand who you are as a company and your positioning within a marketplace. Once you’ve given this some initial thought, you’re ready to dive into the nitty gritty of how you want to talk to your customers.

We’ve Broken This Down Into Three Easy Steps For You:

  1. Firstly, how formal do you want to be? Most of the time, the kind of product or services you’re actually selling has to have a say in this. For example, if you offer security systems, it’s likely that you’ll want your tone of voice to be fairly formal in order to instil that sense of trust and authority; however, if you sell beauty products for teenagers, it’s likely something more fun and frivolous will fit the bill.
  2. Once you know the line you want to go down, it’s time to think about how you can use vocabulary and sentence structure to fit this brief. Short sentences and everyday words get straight to the point and suggest simplicity, honesty and action, whereas more rambling sentences and longer/descriptive words suggest knowledge and creativity. Again, think about your product and what you’re trying to say, and draw up a list of “yes” words and “no” words to help you carve this out more definitively.
  3. Think about how this tone of voice will sit across your communications. While your tone should always be consistent, certain situations will call for you to adapt your usage slightly. For example, when answering complaints in a customer service setting, you wouldn’t want to use the same carefree and flippant tone you employ on social media.

A key thing to remember is that although you might put a lot of time and effort into deciding on your tone of voice, it should never look constructed. Instead, it should be a natural manifestation of your values and people, providing you with a powerful sales and marketing tool in the process.


The Importance of Tone of Voice - Clever Marketing, Hampshire Digital AgencyIf you’re still struggling to get the perfect tone of voice copy out before that fast-approaching deadline, then get in touch and our team copy writing team can help you out.

Call us on 01276 534 680 or email info@cleverm.co.uk and we’ll be happy to talk shop with you.

Clever Marketing, digital agency in Hampshire.

How Using Bloggers In Your Content Strategy can Help Broaden your Reach

Ten years ago, all of the big brands were using high budget celebrities to market and promote their products. These days, you’re much more likely to see a completely different type of brand ambassador at the helm; and you’ve probably never heard of them.

What we’re referring to here is the rise of the blogger.

Engaging with bloggers is a growing trend and is an increasingly integral part of online marketing and digital strategy. Brands who’ve yet to get in the ring risk falling behind and appearing irrelevant in the eyes of customers. So how do you work with bloggers, and how can it benefit you? Read on to find out.

How Can I Work with Bloggers?

If you’re new to the world of blogging, let’s recap. Bloggers post online about their specific niche or industry, for example, beauty or cooking, and combine frequent and original content with a distinct tone of voice to amass a number of followers interested in their area.

This makes them a prime target for brands. Say you run a B&B, and as part of your content strategy, you’ve identified a particular blogger who gets 30,000 unique web hits to their travel blog a month. By reaching out to this blogger and offering them a complimentary stay or meal at your B&B in exchange for a blogpost detailing their experience, you expose your business to those 30,000 captive and relevant readers.

The Worlds of SEO and PR are Combining

In last week’s post, we touched on the importance of integrating your SEO and PR strategies. Now more than ever, it’s important to use PR tactics to get people talking about you in order to gain those all-important back links and improve your search rankings. A great way to do this is through the use of influencers.

Traditionally, PR specialists have engaged with journalists to spread the word about a brand and put a positive story out into the industry space. Now we’re in the digital age, bloggers are the new media – only they’re independent and have distinct personalities, as well as hordes of dedicated followers.

Unlike with the traditional press, blog readers get to know their favourite bloggers personally by reading daily updates on their lives, interests and relationships. Therefore, they are much more likely to make purchases and buying decisions based on their favourite blogger’s advice or recommendations.

The essential element here is trust – unlike celebrities, bloggers are seen more as friends, as normal people audiences can relate to. Our recent post on the rise of YouTubers touched on the influential nature of “vloggers” (video bloggers), whose success is owed to their normality and relatability.

Content Creation

Working alongside bloggers not only means you’ll have some influential new PR advocates, but they’ll be doing a lot of the content heavy-lifting for you, too. Blogposts on third party websites, especially relevant and authoritative blogs, can do wonders for your backlink profile and therefore search rankings.

Our recent post on Google’s search algorithm updates discussed how useful, authentic and relevant content is rewarded above all else by search engines. Working with others in your industry to proactively create even more shareable content and buzz around your brand benefits not only your image, but your SEO, too.

Choosing The Right Blogger

Aligning with the right blogger can help bring your product to life. So, the more followers the better, right? Not exactly – hold on just a second before you start going after Zoella or Alfie Deyes. The kind of blogger you work with will depend largely on your industry, goals and budget.

The best partnerships are the ones born from mutual interests. For example, if you offer industrial cleaning and approach a beauty or fashion blogger, it doesn’t matter how many followers they have or how much money you spend – you’re unlikely to see much return on investment as your product just won’t be relevant to their audience. Instead, select the area you’d like to pursue and concentrate on prolific bloggers in that space.

If you’re a small to medium business and don’t have a budget of hundreds of thousands, you’re better off identifying a group of up-and-coming bloggers with just a couple of thousand followers. As well as being cheaper to work with, they’re more likely to work independently rather than under a management company, so you’ll both have more control over the creative direction of your partnership. The blogger you choose also reflects on you and your brand, so make sure your values and interests are similar before starting out.

Who’s Doing It Right?

There are many examples of brands who have successfully identified and worked with bloggers. Fashion brand Uniqlo recently commissioned a number of emerging fashion bloggers to create content around their collaboration with designer Celia Birtwell, effectively expanding their reach into a younger, more fashion-savvy demographic.

Another innovative method of working with bloggers comes from electronics giant Samsung, and their well-conceived “Bloggers Challenge”  running from August – December 2014.  Open to tech bloggers in South Africa, the challenge involves partaking in a series of quirky tasks, such as preparing a list of meals using just a microwave. Obviously, all challenges must be captured using a Samsung Galaxy 4 phone and uploaded to that blogger’s personal blog or channel. This activity increases Samsung’s share of voice and also supports digital content in South Africa.

We can see here that at the core of a successful blogging partnership are shared values and trust. When choosing bloggers and approaching them with ideas, keep in mind that the content you produce should be beneficial for them, as well as you. In this way, you can build a valuable community, as well as a profitable partnership.


Clever Marketing - Hampshire SEO & Digital AgencyIf you’re not using bloggers to boost your content marketing strategy then get in touch with Surrey digital agency, Clever Marketing. We have content writers to cover many areas and the search engine knowledge to ensure that your SEO is up to scratch.

In addition we can drive traffic to your website with PPC campaigns and social media management.

Call us today on 01276 534 680 or complete our contact form.

Panda and Penguin - just two of the updates to Google's ranking algorithm that have caused a stir in the SEO world.

The Beginner’s Guide to Google’s Algorithm Changes

In recent years, Google has rolled out a number of updates to its search algorithm to provide better and more relevant results to its users. In fact, Google makes hundreds of changes to its algorithm each year, and many pass by rather quietly without having any discernible impact on websites. However, there are a few updates that have caused major disruption upon release; namely, Penguin, Panda and Hummingbird. If you’re unfamiliar with Google’s algorithm, you might feel like you’ve unwittingly wandered into a zoo. Stick with us (or check out our previous SEO blogposts).

Before we go into any details, let’s first recap on what exactly an algorithm change is and how it can affect your website.

What is an Algorithm Update?

Google’s search algorithm is immensely complicated, but fortunately for digital marketers, it’s not necessary to know all of the various ins and outs in order to get a basic knowledge of SEO. In simple terms, the algorithm is much like a pattern or a process that Google uses to filter and sort its results when a user enters a search term.

In the early days of search engines, high page rankings were very easy to manipulate. At one point it was simple as inserting a piece of code. However, this meant that the top result on Google may not have been very useful or relevant to the term it was ranking for. As time and technology progressed, Google’s updates became more and more about how to stop people from cheating.

The first major update arrived in 2010, under the name of “Caffeine”. Since then, updates have gotten bigger, smarter and have made more and more of a monumental effect on websites. The algorithm now considers hundreds of factors – from your site’s age and size to the use of keywords and sitemaps.

Panda

Panda initially launched in February 2011, and to great fanfare. Its purpose was to decipher between high and low quality sites in search results. Named after one of its founders, Navneet Panda, this update sounded the death knell for websites spammy directories, sites with sparse content and “content farms” – sites consisting wholly of stolen 3rd party copy in order to rank.

Sites deemed to be of this low quality by Panda were heavily penalised by Google, either falling pages behind in the rankings or disappearing altogether. If this affected you, there are a few widely accepted ways to recover from these penalties. The first is to remedy any thin, useless content: a site full of pages featuring no more than a few keywords is not useful to a reader and therefore not approved by Google.

Another parameter set by Panda is duplicate content. In the old days, “Black Hat” SEO tactics included simply copying keyword-rich pages across your site in an attempt to improve rankings. Lessen the blow of Panda by making sure all of your copy is original and substantial.

Penguin

Penguin appeared in April 2012, with its beady eyes fixed on unnatural or suspicious-looking backlink profiles. Links were, and still are, a significant factor in search rankings. If a number of high quality and authoritative sites have linked back to your site or blog, it indicates that others have found your content useful and are engaging with you. Certain links are more valuable and effective than others, but building a comprehensive back link profile has long been on the agenda of SEO specialists. Search engines also take into account the anchor text used to link to your site.

For example, if you’re a hairdresser in Newcastle and a number of other websites have linked to you using the words “Newcastle hairdresser”, you become more relevant to search engines for that search term.

The arrival of Penguin aimed to dispel forced, manipulated or unnatural links: in other words, poor quality links that SEO-ers went out looking for with rankings in mind. Again, the update punished sites for not delivering authentic and useful content, and like Panda, Penguin is regularly refreshed in cycles and re-evaluated at each point, so is constantly improving and evolving.

One of the main ways to recover if you have been hit by a Penguin update is to undertake a backlink profile audit. Tools such as SEMrush provide backlink checkers, allowing you to evaluate the quality of the links pointing to your site. If you find historical links from poor quality directories, it’s a good idea to contact the website and ask to have them removed. If this isn’t possible, you can also use Google’s disavow tool.

Hummingbird

Small and delicate by name, aggressive and destructive by nature. Hummingbird first appeared in October 2013 and has been the most significant change to date. Rather than an update, Hummingbird is intended as an overhaul of the entire algorithm, with the main aim of better understanding user intent. Google now takes into account colloquial and regional differences as well as slang in search queries. This is understood to have been prompted by the recent introduction of voice search.

Much like Panda and Penguin, the overarching aim of Hummingbird is to improve a searcher’s experience. It rewards content that answers a search query rather than simply targeting a keyword. Hummingbird is, however, a bit harder to “recover” from – it’s not as simple as having a look at your backlink profile or beefing up your content. In Hummingbird, Google has found a way to make websites take a long, hard look at what they offer and consistently strive to deliver something better.


If you’d rather someone else did all the “heavy lifting” with your SEO and understanding of the Google algos, then let Clever Marketing take that weight off your shoulders. Fill in our contact form or drop us a line on 01276 534 680 to discuss your digital marketing requirements.

Digital marketing strategy - why your SEO and PR should be integrated

Why and How your SEO and PR Strategies Should be Integrated

Once completely disparate entities, SEO (search engine optimisation) and PR (public relations) strategies have grown closer over recent years. Modern SEO tactics show a focus on building high authority links – which is essentially about getting brands to talk about and work with you. At its heart this is also what PR is all about, making PR a key component of the “new” search engine optimisation method.

Read more

Christmas Crackers: The Most Successful Christmas Marketing Campaigns

It’s that time of year again, when the Christmas lights turn on, offices wind down in the run-up to the holidays, and your customers are getting ready for their most expensive time of year. To entice them, retailers and businesses need to get creative and offer seasonal marketing campaigns that not only offer a strong sales message, but an emotionally resonant one, too. Here’s our round-up of some of the most successful marketing campaigns of Christmas past and present. Read more