Your business’s tone of voice is the compass point for making sure the communications in your business remain consistent.
But… before you jump in and pick out a tone of voice to run with, you need to think about the building blocks, or foundation, for this tone.
What is your business’s key message?
First you need to consider what it is you’re trying to say, as this will help to determine how you say it.
- How you help your ideal customer
- Who you don’t want to help (so you don’t connect with this crowd!)
- How you solve customer pain points or problems.
In other words, dive into that elevator pitch and bring it up in front of you.
If you’re trying to help young mums navigate postnatal depression, your key message might be, “You don’t have to suffer in silence. We’re here to provide support.”
You can see how having this key message can help get the ball rolling on uncovering your brand’s tone of voice.
Remember – you’re not the hero!
Going back to the StoryBrand message, we need to remember when developing communications for your business that you’re NOT the hero of your brand – your customer is.
Keep it simple.
Humans aren’t drawn to the best products – they are attracted to clarity. So make sure your key message is crystal clear for the hero you’re trying to attract.
Think of Apple’s message – ‘Think Differerent.’
Two words… it’s so simple and yet it says so much to their ideal customer.
What is your business’s mission?
Once you’ve considered the key message, it’s time to think about why your company exists and does the work it does.
Your company’s mission should define what you do, how you do it and why you do it.
This mission statement should clearly state what your busienss’s overall goal is.
For example, Starbucks mission is ‘to inspire and nurture the human spirit – one person, one cup and one neighbourhood at a time.’
What’s your business’s vision?
Your business’s vision is the clear mental image you have of where you want your business to be, and it should be based on your goals.
You don’t need to make your vision public, but it’ll help you to develop a clear tone of voice for your brand because it gives you a clear focus on what you’re trying to achieve.
For example, going back to Starbucks as an example, their vision is ‘to establish Starbucks as the premier purveyor of the finest coffee in the world while maintain our uncompromising principles while we grow.’
So if you were the family café, your vision might be ‘to open two more cafes in family-friendly areas, serving three times the amount of customers where continuing our friendly service and delicious food.’
What are your business’s values?
Now that you understand your business’s key message, mission and vision, you can develop your business’s values.
Brand values are the standards your business will follow and uphold in pursuit of its mission and vision.
Some examples of company values include: Loyalty, Honesty, Trust, Ingenuity, Accountability, Transparency, Commitment, Simplicity, Respect, Integrity, Boldness, Passionate.
A client we recently worked with hosts workshops for adolescent girls, helping them to develop body positivity.
So if you were that business, your values might be:
We are open, honest and accountable, and work hard to develop relationships built on mutual trust with all our clients.
We are dedicated to providing female-centred care, valuing individual needs and expectations to work with clients as equal partners in their own wellbeing.
We make sure all clients we work with feel safe and connected with their bodies and that they are in safe space where they are encouraged to connect.
We listen to our clients’ needs and thoughtfully answer their questions, speaking with empathy.
The building blocks for tone of voice
Now you have considered your business’s key message, mission, vision and values, you can start to think deeply about its tone of voice.
With our brand’s voice, we need to think about how we want our customers to feel when they interact with our brand.
To give you some examples of strong brand tone of voice, I’ve copied some of my favourites below:
“Inspired and designed to reflect our belief that you have the power to change stuff – this little masterpiece was made to do more than just wash your hands.”
– Thank You
“Toilets have saved more lives than any other modern invention. Something to think about the next time it’s your turn to clean the bathroom…”
– Who Gives a Crap
“Smell confident. Get more awesomeness, good smellingness, and Old Spice exclusiveness than ever before.”
– Old Spice
As you can see from these examples, these brands have a distinct style and strong voice when it comes to their messaging.
Establishing your brand’s tone of voice
When creating a distinct voice for your business, you want to think about four things: sociability, attitude, volume and energy.
Sociability relates to how inclusive or exclusive you want to be, attitude is how your brand comes across, volume is how loud you speak (whispered to shouting) and energy is whether you’re relaxed, upbeat, or somewhere in-between.
But remember – your tone of voice can only been developed once you have established the building blocks – key message, mission, vision and values. These building blocks will guide you on to discovering your business’s tone of voice.