Ever had a client tell you their tone of voice is 'friendly and professional' then complain when you come back with content that hasn't quite hit the mark? Friendly doesn't mean the same thing to everyone. Some see it as 'light and bubbly', others 'warm and supportive'. It's the same with every adjective.
Writing content that speaks to your client's specific audience is key and agreeing on the correct tone of voice from the start ensures all communications is on brand, consistent and will make an impact.
Some clients have been through a branding process and their tone of voice is ready to go, but others don't have the budget and come to you saying "Tone of voice? Um, well...."
With these clients what's often missing is a starting point from which to discuss tone of voice. That's why we've rounded up six companies who have a strong tone of voice (and examples of their content) to help you when discussing and explaining tone of voice.
So, what is 'tone of voice'?
Your tone of voice is how to speak to your audience. It’s not about what you say, but how you say it and the impression it makes. Your tone of voice could be lively, positive, warm or professional. Whatever it is, it’s important in connecting with people - it makes you human, builds your reputation, and helps you cut through. Here are six examples of companies with varying tone of voice, the three words that describe their tone of voice, and website content to show you and your clients exactly what that tone of voice sounds like when applied to content.
How will these examples make my life easier?
You can use this as a guide to help you and your client start thinking about, and ultimately define, the company’s tone of voice. It's really helpful for clients who have done some work in-house on their tone of voice but are having a hard time communicating how that sounds 'on paper' as well as clients who are throwing around adjectives but can't quite pin their voice down.
To work out whether you're on the same page, try asking:
Do you identify with any of these companies tone of voice?
Are any of them NOT what you want to sound like?
Is this what you mean by 'friendly' or would you like to be more conservative than that?
Six examples of strong tone of voice
#1 Mail Chimp
TONE: Human, Familiar, Friendly
#2 New Zealand Certified Builders
www.nzcb.nz TONE: Empathetic, Reassuring, Professional
www.kiwibank.co.nz TONE: Colloquial, Upbeat, Direct
TONE: Confident, Empowering, Conversational
TONE: Conversational, Positive, Helpful