How do I create my company's tone of voice? Wednesday October 9, 2013

Not so long ago, tone of voice in copywriting was only a preoccupation for bigger brands….

Image for article on copywriting for the right tone of voice

…now it’s important to businesses of all shapes, sizes and goals. Why? Because tone of voice goes way beyond making a company sound fun or approachable. You could describe it as the strategic application of a house style to define yourself in your market…or you could just say that it’s a great way to make yourself more memorable.

Either way, I hear a lot of business-owners asking about how to achieve the right tone of voice in copywriting. I’ve only seen that increase over the 10+ years I’ve been copywriting for business. Here are some starting points to help you find your own tone of voice:

Put flesh on your marketing personas

Not got your marketing personas in place yet? Your marketing personas are the first step in planning your copywriting tone of voice because they give you a clearer steer on who you’re planning your copywriting strategy around. Work out who you want to write for and think about the style that will work for them. Are your ideal clients busy people with limited time or aspirational types who want to feel nurtured? All these kinds of insights will help create a copywriting approach with a more clearly defined tone of voice.

Drop the habit

Developing a tone of voice means stepping aside from your usual style of writing and habitual ways of talking about what you do. Look at all the options available to you. Which specific styles would work for your industry? Which tone of voice could set you apart from your competitors? What differences can you build into your content? Here’s an example of how tone of voice helped a company to speak more powerfully to its target audience.

Unearth the right qualities

Think about how you want to be seen, then aim to convey those qualities in writing. Want to be viewed as authoritative? Opt for clear, formal sentences. Need to be recognised as an innovator? Look at how to combine the quirky with the credible. (Read an example of upgrading a company tone of voice here). Match the qualities valued by your ideal customers with your own copywriting style. Then make sure that it’s consistent across all your content (more on that later on).

Go back for more insight

It’s great to keep your copywriting approach up to date. But don’t miss out on the insight you can gain from looking back at past content. Take a closer look at the marketing copy that has worked for you and ask yourself why. Did a specific blog post create a better response? Did a particular email encourage more interest? Look closely at the tone of voice and copywriting style you used there and see what elements you can bring to your strategic tone of voice.

Don’t be afraid to be yourself

It may seem tempting to take on a whole new persona for your copywriting tone of voice. But you risk losing yourself in the process. If it’s your business, you want your website, your brochure, your blog, whatever it is, to sound like you. You want your copywriting approach to match who you are. So be sure to develop a tone of voice that fits with you, whether that’s informal, laid back, formal, energetic, or something else. In my role as ghost blogger, I’ve been working with an organisation (can’t name names!) to create blog content that reflects the personality of its owner as well as appealing to the interests of its members. My focus was on keeping the blog content true to my client’s character. It seems to have worked, judging by the feedback she’s received.

Build in the story

People love stories. So don’t overlook yours in your copywriting and tone of voice strategy. Find what’s appropriate and what you feel comfortable sharing and bring it to life. An example might be what inspired to start your business. Build that into your web content. Sharing it as part of your company introduction will help give your tone of voice a more distinctive edge. Read more about how I approached this for one of my clients here.

Crave consistency

As I’ve blogged before, consistency is a valuable part of copywriting. Be sure to keep your tone of voice consistent across your marketing content once you’ve established your own particular style. Set dates to review it and check that all copy that goes out with your message is on-message.

Finding your tone of voice?

Trying to define your own particular tone of voice? Take a look at these blog posts on popular copywriting topics for more info or get in touch!

By Camilla Zajac, Green Light Copywriting, Nottingham, October 2013

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