With endless choices available to modern consumers, every company needs to make a conscious effort to establish its own niche. Are you striking the right note when you address your audience directly, or is something off with your marketing style? The difference could swing the fortunes of your company.
A group of teenagers meets up for breakfast. The food quality doesn’t vary too much from one diner to another, and they’re both about the same distance away. One markets its “special value meal” to let its customers save a small amount on each dish. They’ll show scenes of families (kids, parents, grandparents) enjoying their scrambled eggs. The other diner is well known for its excellent sense of humor and innovative social media voice.
Most of the time, those teenagers will pick the one – of course – that gives them something to talk about. Happy kids and grandparents don’t inspire them, and neither do small savings on value meals. Teenagers want to be cool and have fun, and companies like Denny’s know that. All of their public communication is in the same good-natured, somewhat silly but always likeable voice.
When a major company differentiates itself in such an original way from its competitors, it’s no accident. It’s a sign that the company has complete confidence in the identity it wants to embrace – and that confidence is contagious. It is embodied by the unique and memorable corporate tone of voice that comes across in its marketing … and stays in the minds of its customers.
Finding one’s own voice is a major step towards maturity – both in society and in the world of business. A clear and confident tone of voice commands respect, while a confused voice soon tests the patience of one’s audience. To develop the right tone of voice for your business, you must first know what you’re getting into – and understand the full range of possibilities to consider.
What is a Corporate Tone of Voice?
A Tone of Voice gives a brand its own unique identity through both written and verbal communications, allowing it to appear distinct from its competitors and recognizable on its own merits. By communicating a brand’s personality and character through language, a Tone of Voice suggests the type of expressions and vocabulary it is likely to use, as well as its mannerisms and quirks. The Tone of Voice speaks to the brand’s target audience, but does so in its own way; it does not aim to mimic the voice of its audience.
Likewise, the Tone of Voice is informed by the brand’s identity and culture, but is not simply a re-stating of them. Tone extends from linguistic choices to stylistic decisions, encompassing the entire feel of the exchange – whether serious and informative; lighthearted and chatty; personal and empathetic; or official and impartial.
Why Do You Need a Tone of Voice?
A Tone of Voice ensures a standard approach to communication shared by everyone working at your company. Individual personalities may shine through in articles or posts made under any given staff member’s own name, but those personalities need clear boundaries within which to operate. Without these shared goals and boundaries to provide a consistent communicative framework, a sense of cohesion and team identity can be lost.
On material presented by ‘the company’ rather than a named individual within it, a Tone of Voice ensures that each piece of content speaks and writes with the same brand voice. Before your clients can know who you are, your own team must surely all agree on your own corporate identity – and an important part of that is the way you approach communication.
When Do You Use Your Tone of Voice?
All material on your website, press releases, newsletters, promotional materials and social media accounts – in effect, everything directed at your clients or the public in general – should reflect your company-wide Tone of Voice. If your voice is to define you as a company, then you must truly embody it.
Just as with your own public voice, there is always room for development, refinement and new ideas. Indeed, these changes must occur sooner or later; a real voice is one that engages with the world, and the world is a changing place.
To truly connect with people living in that world, you must live in it too, and interact with it. Try to live apart from it, or above it, and you will put too much distance between yourselves and your audience, and ultimately lose touch with them. As with life, the goal is to find the balance that best suits who you are, and what you want to accomplish. Whether selling pancakes to teenagers or offering businesses a path to marketing success, the key is to get attention, hold it – and help your audience enjoy seeing the world as you do.
Steve Callerame is Senior Writer for Lexicon Business Communications.
Lexicon’s suite of Business Communication services includes the development of a strong and confident corporate Tone of Voice. A complete guide to a company’s Tone of Voice is normally included in its Brand Book, along with other insights about its corporate persona, internal values and identity, wider communications policies, DO’s and DON’Ts, technical guidelines and more. Indeed, this article has been adapted from Lexicon’s own Brand Book. If your business needs a fresh, expertly-compiled Tone of Voice – or a complete Brand Book – get in touch with us today.
Lexicon is a full-service digital marketing agency in Bangkok, Thailand. We specialize in corporate storytelling and produce all of our content in-house, including branding, copywriting, video production and graphic design. Lexicon’s social media marketing services start from just 25,000 THB per month.