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 contributes to your brand identity. But how much thought have you really given to your tone of voice? In our latest blogpost, we discuss why a strong tone of voice is so important for brands, and how you can go about establishing yours.
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 by 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 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.
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 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 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.
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.
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:
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.
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.