The importance of a corporate tone of voice
Marketing, at a basic level, is all about communicating essential messages to your customers, and working out what needs to be said is one of the challenges that businesses face. However, just as important as the words you’re choosing to reach your audience, is the way that you’re saying them.
“Corporate tone of voice” may sound like the kind of marketing jargon spouted by a hipster wearing wooden-framed glasses and loafers with no socks, but it’s actually an essential part of your brand identity, and one that can help to make sales.
The tone of voice we adopt in normal life generally happens unconsciously and is just one of the natural ways that we present ourselves to others, following the human instinct to nurture relationships, protect ourselves etc. Just as our personal tone of voice impacts relationships with our peers, the way that a business speaks to its customers and prospects influences how they react to that company.
Simply put, tone of voice is only one of the affecting factors that make up a brand, but it’s one that can often be overlooked. In the competitive world of business you need all of your brand cylinders to be firing at once, ensuring that you stand out from the competition. So you need to get this pinned down.
How to build your business’s tone of voice
The most important place to start is with the audience. Picture the person you are speaking to and what they will react well to. If you have extremely varied ‘types’ of customers, then think about what they all have in common: an interest in your offering. If they were all queued up in front of you in a shop, you’d speak to them in the same way, expressing your knowledge, suitability and reliability in a tone of voice that they wold respond well to.
Think about it from their perspective. In the B2B world, particularly in the world of engineering, manufacturing and technology, people will expect a friendly tone but won’t have time for flowery language or excessive bonhomie. Get to the point in a pleasant tone, and give them what they need from you.
The industry element is very important. An engineering contact doesn’t want to be spoken to in the same way that a representative from the wedding industry might converse. In most industries, there is particular lingo that links people together, and the same can be said for a tone of voice. Consider how you and your colleagues converse when things are going smoothly, and employ that with your marketing audience.
Another helpful exercise to undertake when considering your corporate tone of voice is to research your competitors and key industry contacts’ tone of voice. Look at their websites and social media streams. How do they present themselves? Are they formal, witty, friendly, quirky or straight to the point? The fact that they’re speaking to the same people as you means that it’s good to get a flavour of how they come across.
Consistency is key
Tone of voice, like all elements of your brand, needs to be represented consistently across all of your marketing channels. And I’m not just talking about the obvious ones. Yes, your website content should fit with the “corporate character” of your social media channels, but there are all kinds of customer-facing interactions that need to share it as well. A tone of voice needs to be such a strong part of your business that everyone involved naturally adopts it when dealing with your customers. This means staff, from receptionists to engineers. To take an example from the consumer world, Ocado drivers succeed in their roles by adopting the tone of voice of their brand. They are courteous, cheerful and friendly. This is repeated across all points of communication including emails, smart phone notifications and even customer receipts.
The way that your brand communicates is more complex than you might at first think. But if you get it right, the results are enormous. The key to customer loyalty is found in the way you make them feel. As important as delivering what they need on time is the way that you hand it over. Doing so with a consistently friendly face, speaking their language in a tone that they appreciate means that you’re likely to see them again the next time they require your product or service.
At Motion Marketing we understand the vital importance of brand consistency and work with our clients to perfect effective characteristics for their brand. Subtleties like tone of voice can make all the difference to their customers’ experience and go a long way towards repeat sales. If you’d like to find out more, get in touch with Motion today.