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Find Your Voice

May 11th, 2015 by

With so many brands vying for attention on the internet, how can yours stand out?

How consumers talk about brands and products is changing. It’s going digital, and it’s important you join in on this connected conversation. Your business may use social listening methods to tap into what a consumer may say about your product or service, but are they listening to you? The answer is yes, and how you communicate with your audience could make or break your business, so a succinct tone of voice should be at the heart of all the content you produce.

The old adage of the customer is always right, rings true. If you consider the success stories such as Google, Facebook and eBay, a common denominator in their websites is a strong voice, formed of carefully crafted content aimed at connecting with their customers.

So why is tone of voice important?

A tone of voice demonstrates your personality to both consumers and competitors: does your brand come across as friendly? Is it humourous? All of these factors must be decided on – in line with your underlying business objective or ‘mission statement’ – you’ll not often see a law firm with a cracking sense of humour, much as you’re unlikely to hear a fastfood chain use words with more than three syllables.

Stylistically there are a few things you should consider when developing a brand tone of voice:

Jargon

“Special words or expressions used by a profession or group that are difficult for others to understand.”

Do you specialise in a certain industry? Are you aiming to connect with experts or beginners? Remember that the language you easily use on a daily basis can be construed as jargon to your website visitors, or those that are receiving your marketing communications. However, in the event that your audience is well versed about your services, using jargon which is specific to your field of expertise will make the customer feel of an equal intelligence to your brand and encourage engagement built on a feeling of shared understanding.

Buzzwords

“A word or phrase, can often be an item of jargon, that is fashionable at a particular time or in a particular context.”

Industry-specific buzzwords vary in popularity as time goes on, so you should be sure to keep on top of ‘what’s hot’ in your field and nail down the particular terminology. A business blog is a great way to hit the mark with these buzzwords;. If you create a discussion around news in your field you appeal to those who like to be in the know. It also boosts SEO and instantly appeals to any customers with an interest in your field.

Clichés

“A phrase or opinion that is overused and betrays a lack of original thought – can also apply to buzzwords.”

As highlighted by its definition, the use of clichés “betrays a lack of original thought”. Though they once reigned supreme in marketing materials, we’re willing to say that almost all customers would be deterred by the use of clichés, and in general you should stay away from them. As with everything though, the decision is in your hands!

Pronouns

“A word that can function as a noun phrase used by itself and that refers either to the participants in the discourse or to someone or something mentioned elsewhere in the discourse.”

Something to decide: is your company a “we”? Or will you go for the third person approach and refer to “the business” or “it” (for example). The first person approach can convey an intimacy and adds a personality to your brand; as social animals, humans connect with conversation which mimics natural speech. Often smaller companies prefer this approach. The first person approach is friendly and is also very informal. Larger, more corporate companies may favour the third person, which comes across as more authoritative and professional. .

Contractions

“A shortened form of a word or group of words, with the omitted letters often replaced in written English by an apostrophe.”

Tying in with your decision about pronouns is the more granular decision of whether or not to use contractions. Shorter, more compact sentences pack a punch we find (think McDonalds’ “I’m lovin’ it!”), and contractions allow your content to flow with a more conversational feel, which is more engaging for your audience.

Once you’ve got a brand tone of voice in mind, you can build your brand DNA and strengthen your engagement with your audience. Find out about brand DNA in this blog post.

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