If your organization were a person, branding would be their sparkling personality. And that person’s tone of voice, or way of speaking, should be one of the most memorable parts of their personality. In fact, people will remember your voice’s tone over visual cues when first meeting you.
Of course, your organization isn’t a person. But, the tone your messaging conveys remains a powerful way to communicate your story, values, and personality. Why do these traits matter for a business? People often respond most strongly to the way we say things, rather than just what we say. And our tone will convey truths to our audiences, even when our words convey something differently.
Use Your Tone as a Brand Asset
A consistent, engaging tone that resonates with your audiences is crucial to fostering your unique brand identity. And when you can share authentic, engaging content within a vast landscape, you’ll hit a home run with audiences who connect with your personality.
But what does tone mean in branding?
Tone addresses the features you use in your language (such as word choice and contractions) to develop a brand voice. This voice will convey your organization’s unique personality and culture. A memorable tone supports a verbal brand that works in tandem with visual branding when it comes to quickly shaping audiences’ opinion of you. Whether you’re trying to break into a competitive field or refresh your branding, tone can help set you apart and strategically reach audiences.
Understand Different Tone Traits
Let’s explore some common tone traits, using basic statements about my favorite sport, tennis, as examples:
- Authority. An authoritative tone conveys leadership, tradition, and decisiveness. Evoke authority by using industry-specific language while tying your content to a common knowledge base your audience shares. If you work in the legal and financial fields, this tone trait is common. (Though, a trend’s emerging for these industries to become more accessible in their communications, such as U.S.–based Simple Bank.) Ultimately, knowing who your audience is will guide whether you need to adopt an authoritative tone.
For example: After 25 years as a coach, I have learned versatility is essential to success in tennis, whether you are at Wimbledon or your local health club.
- Directness. Like authority, directness projects confidence. A direct tone will appeal to an audience that wants straightforward answers without much fluff. Shorter sentences and simple Q&A format are great ways of being direct.
For example: How do you grow as a tennis player? Increase your versatility.
- Warmth. A warm tone is thoughtful, helpful, and caring — and treats your readers as equals. Acknowledge when you’re dealing with frustrating issues and invite your readers to walk with you as you pursue a solution. Warmth can be as simple as acknowledging that “this is tough stuff.”
For example: Don’t worry too much about having a lightning-fast serve. Your strength in tennis comes from your ability to be versatile in different situations.
- Humor. A humorous tone brings wit and laughter into the language, and encourages audiences to be cheeky with you. A skilled content creator will know how (and when) to deploy small jokes and asides without distracting from the content’s true purpose. If your organization deals with heavy matters, a witty tone may break tension and help your audience feel more at ease.
For example: The good thing about tennis is that versatility, not expertise, can make you very competitive. The great thing is that you don’t have to wear tiny white shorts while doing it anymore.
Use these tone traits as an opportunity to think creatively about your company’s personality. Your tone may be a blend of directness and humor or authoritative warmth. Take time to examine your company’s goals and core beliefs to find the unique tone that suits you and your audience. After all, first impressions only happen once.