Guest blog from Rachel Williams, professional copywriter.
Struggling for inspiration that would prompt me to write my next blog post, I did what any rational adult would do and decided to do something else instead! That something else was ‘helping’ my son prepare a presentation for his school project. We’d done all our research, found lots of pictures to entertain his ‘audience’, now we (sorry, he) just had to write a script.
Not surprisingly, reluctant/bored son was more than happy for mum to take control, order the content, write the words. But hearing him speak the script aloud made me realise that it sounded totally wrong – and hey presto, a topic entered my head (and I won’t bore you with how we got around the issue of making his script reflect how he would talk, it really wasn’t pretty).
Transfer that to the world of business and we’re talking ‘tone of voice’, an integral part of your brand. Of course, it’s not all about words – tone of voice is visual too. It’s the imagery, colour, typography and the way all these elements work together. But part of the reason for creating that visual tone of voice is to make sure people have the right perception of your brand in order to compel them to read what you have to say, so it’s important that you don’t let yourself down by not considering how you ‘sound’ to your audience.
The best way to check if your written communications have the right tone of voice is to review it against your brand values. Use these as your set of criteria for writing copy and keep asking yourself if you are conveying those values to your audience. And what personality do you want to convey?
Naturally, it will depend to a greater or lesser extent on your specific type of business and the customers you hope to attract. There’s no point in using a very formal style of writing if you want to be seen as ‘friendly and approachable’. Equally, you wouldn’t expect a solicitor to write in a very informal manner or make liberal use of exclamation marks.
A while back I worked with a technology company that was launching a really exciting product on the market, and it took quite some time to convince them that their particular audience wasn’t actually going to be swayed by a hi-tech tone (it all came down to selling the benefits and accepting that their very clever and advanced technology was merely a means to an end). We finally agreed on a written style that was easy to understand, positive, personal and enthusiastic, all of which was then qualified by a more technical tone to give authority and ‘weight’ to the product offering.
It’s very easy to get lost in the mire of your own business and to forget how best to speak to your customers. But if you focus on your brand values and think carefully about the personality of your brand, then a voice will begin to emerge – and hopefully it will be one that doesn’t sound like everyone else.
Do you find it easy to write in a particular style that works for your business? How did you discover your tone of voice? It would be great to share any tips you might have.