The tone of voice a brand uses is not about what they are saying, but it is about how they are saying it. This encompasses a range of things, from the words they use, to the order that they are using them in. Every brand needs to have a tone of voice, as it should be consistently used throughout their web copy and social media content and messages.

When it comes to social media and digital marketing, transparency and human-to-human engagement is key. Consumers want to know who is behind the brand and build up a level of trust through the communication they have with them. The tone of voice a brand has will demonstrate both their values and their personality, and really give a consumer an insight into the people behind the business.

Tone-of-Voice3-1 How to Define Your Brand’s Tone of Voice in 5 Simple Steps

So how do you even begin to define your brand’s tone of voice and how can you make sure that once it has been defined that it is consistent across your brand’s different communication platforms?

Think About Your Values

A good place to start is with the values that your brand holds. Chances are, your company will already exist, so you will always have a starting point when it comes to defining your tone of voice. Pick three words that really emphasise your brand values e.g. helpful, inspirational and reliable and make sure your tone of voice reflects them.

Think about your company culture and decide what makes your brand stand out from the rest. Every brand has a story, so find your story and then work out what that means to you and how you want to portray it through your tone of voice.

Decide on Your Brand’s Goals

Once you have pinned down your values, decide what you want to achieve once you have defined your tone of voice. The idea is to set goals that you can achieve – do you want to provide an outstanding level or customer service? Or be a reliable source for information in your industry? Make sure your on-going strategies and tone of voice reflect this.

Think about the goals that you want your business to achieve and how you want to achieve them. From this you should be able to work backwards and view yourself how your target audience might and understand how your brand needs to come across to them.

Consider Your Brand’s Personality

The personality behind your brand is crucial, as humans tend to decide whether they like someone quite quickly based on their personality, and it’s the same when it comes to brands. Don’t let your initial decision be that you just want to be fun and friendly, because realistically that might not suit your brand if you were, for example, a solicitor.

Think about the type of language you use when talking to your current consumers and think about how that could translate through online copy and blog posts. How formal your tone of voice is could very easily differ depending on which platform you are using, but don’t think that as soon as you are hidden behind a screen your personality should disappear.

Think about how you would talk a potential client through what your business is about face to face, and consider how you would want your staff and the business to come across – Warm? Friendly? Professional? Serious? Authoritative?

Focus on Your Consumers

A great way to work out what your tone of voice should be is through customer feedback. The best people to tell you how they view your brand is those that regularly deal with you, so hold a focus group or send out a survey and ask them to describe your brand in just a few words or short sentences.

An even quicker way of gaining customer feedback is from analysing the written communication you have already had with them and what platform that communication has taken place on. Do you mainly receive tweets laden with emoticons and humour from your consumers, or does most of your contact with them take place over email with more formal language?

Create a Style Guide

Ultimately creating a tone of voice is about communicating a message to your audience in a style that reflects your brand as a whole. Once you have defined your tone of voice, it is important to use it in the majority of your written communication for a level of consistency across platforms.

Create a style guide that you can give to all your employees that will help them understand exactly what tone of voice they need to use when representing your brand. A good place to start is by providing them with a few examples of what the tone of voice should be in a range of different situations across multiple communication platforms.