In the world of marketing, branding is everything, and in the world of branding, it all comes down to tone. You most likely already know this, but it can be hard to identify exactly what tone refers to, let alone what the tone of your business brand, in particular, should be. This post aims to help you get a better understanding of tone as it relates to your business brand and provide guidelines around helping you identify the tone that will attract and foster a genuine connection with your target audience.
Related: Reputation 101 (free eBook)
While brand voice encompasses what you say, tone involves how you say it. It includes the combinations of words you use. These affect how you convey attitudes or emotions, as well as how your audience receives what you say. So how can you develop a tone that will attract your target audience and foster a connection with them? You first need to nail down two important things—brand identity and brand messaging.
Simply put, brand identity is how a business presents itself, and a solid brand presents itself the way it wants consumers to view it. This is not in the sense of forcing consumers into thinking one way or another, but rather in the sense of presenting a secure, confident, and coherent identity. This allows consumers to also feel confident and secure in their thoughts about that brand. Brand identity is incorporated into all aspects of a company including the name, logo design, customer service practices, and so on.
Messaging is the vehicle by which you present your brand identity. It clarifies to your audience why your brand matters, what it stands for, and what makes it unique. Company taglines, slogans for advertising campaigns, and about us pages are all forms of messaging.
Now that you see how our identity and primary message are the foundation for your brand, you’re ready to start developing your signature tone, which is what glues it all together. As with any marketing strategy, your audience is the first thing to consider when developing your tone. You could choose a tone based on personal preference, but if it doesn’t appeal to your audience, what good will it do? There are a few questions you should ask yourself to cater your tone to your target audience.
It may be helpful to create personas as you research your current customer base. Consider common age ranges, interests, locations, and educational backgrounds of your audience. Develop your tone by thinking of how to communicate in a way that these specific people will understand and appreciate.
Do you solve a problem or address a pain point common to your target audience? Show that you understand their current challenges and the negative impact of those challenges. Do you provide something that helps them to reach an important goal? Your tone should be aimed at conveying that you understand why and how badly they want to achieve that goal, and how you will help them to get there.
Is their primary problem truly troubling to them, or is it more of a minor irritation? Are the steps to achieving their goals complex and time-consuming? Do they need or want a simpler, quicker alternative? The answers to these questions will determine the tone you take in approaching the subject.
Consider too how they describe these problems and goals. Using similar wording, to show that you understand the concerns of your audience, will help to hone your tone.
However, balance is necessary. The current situation of your target audience is what you’ll use to connect with them. Yet, to move them to action, you have to help them see themselves where they want to be (with your help, of course).
While potential customers are an important consideration, they are not the only one. You can’t leave your business out of the picture. The following questions will help you strike the balance between a customer-centric tone and one that also works for your company.
No doubt, you want to be an authority on whatever it is that you do. The tone you choose can either make it happen or prevent it. Remember: The type of business you have will have a great bearing on what is appropriate.
Too, you want to stand out in the sea of competitors. While it may be helpful to research their methods of communication, you should not be content to copy. To stand out, you must have your own, unique twist.
Brand personality refers to human traits that are consistently displayed by a business. There are five key dimensions. They are:
• Sincerity – Down-to-earth, honest, wholesome, cheerful
• Excitement – Daring, spirited, imaginative, up-to-date
• Competence – Reliable, intelligent, successful
• Sophistication – Upper class, charming
• Ruggedness – Outdoorsy, tough
Does your business fall into one or more of these categories? Further, if it were a person, what effect would you want it to have on your audience? Do they need an advisor, a coordinator, a motivator? Whatever your brand personality is, make sure that it shines through in the tone you pick.
The primary values of your business do more than just form the core of your business reputation—they are the foundation for your tone as well. Do your primary values include integrity, collaboration or innovation? Customer commitment, quality, or sustainability? No matter what, the importance of those values needs to be woven into each aspect of your brand. This will attract individuals who hold the same values dear.
There are many things to take into account when deciding on tone. this is the case whether you are building or rebuilding a brand. Diligent research and a thorough understanding of your audience and business are necessary. The time you invest in finding the best choice, though, will not only save you time and money but also make you money. The more solid your brand, the better business will be!