Developing your brand- Part Four: Tone of voice - Heart Internet Blog - Focusing on all aspects of the web

Welcome back to part 4 in this series on developing your brand. If you missed our first three posts from this series, you can view them here, here and here. This time, we’ll look at how you can establish a consistent tone of voice to get your brand's personality across.

Consider your formality

Tone of voice is not what you say, but how you say it and one of its key elements is the level of formality you apply to your communications. A simple way to think about your levels if formality is to look at them like different outfits. If you’re going down to the pub with your mates, you might wear jeans and a t-shirt, but if you’re going to a wedding, you’d be more likely to wear a suit. It’s still you in both of these situations, but you’re presenting yourself at different levels of formality.

The first step in defining your tone of voice is to define the levels of formality that your communications will sit within by giving examples of your highest, lowest and medium levels of formality.

To start with, consider the most informal your company has been whilst still being on-brand, this is often found in the form a tweet, Facebook post or on your website.

For example you might choose a tweet like this…

‘A few more lovely faces joining us [link]’

…if you’ve had some recent new starters.

You could, therefore, use this as an example of how informal you can go whilst still being on-brand.

Next, you should consider the medium level of formality that you’ll apply. This is likely to be the most common level of formality for your communications and can often be found on people’s websites in sections like About, Contact Us or on their homepage.

On your contact page, you might have some copy like the following that would be a good example of your medium level of formality:

‘If you like what we do, and think we could work together, then get in touch’

This isn’t as informal as using words like ‘lovely’ seen in the lower formality example, but it’s fair to say that this copy isn’t overly formal either.

The last step regarding formality is to establish what the highest level of formality will be for your brand. You might commonly find your most formal communications on your website when you’re describing the value that your products and/or services provide, in calls to action or perhaps in press releases that you write.

Say you use copy like the following example for a call to action encouraging users to sign up to your newsletters:

‘Enter your email address below to receive occasional updates.’

Words, Terms and Phrases

Another important way to create a consistent tone of voice for your brand is to give examples of common on-brand words, terms and phrases that you use to build your communications. Having a list of these is a great tool for any new starters who will be writing for your brand as they’ll have a number of pre-approved options available to them whenever they’re stuck grasping for the next word.

Here’s some examples of the kinds of words, terms and phrases that a brand might choose to maintain a consistent tone:

Words

  • Convert
  • Straightforward
  • Creative

Terms

  • Ideas
  • Approach                           
  • Team

Phrases

  • Equal partners
  • Find out more
  • Forward-thinking

And there you have it. A simple method for creating a consistent tone of voice that you can use practically for your brand moving forwards. Next time, we’ll look at how you can create a consistent design style to reinforce your tone of voice and to help you solidify your brand.

Do you have any top tips on branding? Feel free to share them in the comments below.

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