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Standing out from the crowd is important for all brands, especially in a world saturated with content. Therefore, you want to ensure customers and potential customers recognise your brand within a second of seeing a video, blog headline, or image from you.

Research conducted in 2018 found that 55% of pageviews received less than 15 seconds of attention. Highlighting just how important it is to catch the publics’ eye quickly.

The way to do this is through a consistent and concise Tone of Voice.

What is a tone of voice document and why does your business need one?

A tone of voice is vital if you are creating content for your customers and potential customers to view. It applies to all material that you will be presenting to the outside world. From product descriptions and printed content to how your salespeople present to customers. This document is not something that just includes what you are going to say, but how you say it and how you express your business through written content.  

As your business expands you may want to employ new members of staff, such as a marketing person or salesperson. As these new members of your team come on board, they will need to know exactly how to communicate with the rest of the world. This blueprint is your tone of voice document. It outlines how you are going to say anything in your marketing strategy and precedes your content marketing efforts.

Reasons why you need a TOV document 

  • It gives your business consistency
  • It gives you a clear direction
  • Your customers will recognise you
  • Audiences will see you in a more genuine light

What is in a tone of voice document?

Your tone of voice document should include the following sections;

  • Your company personality
  • Your company values
  • What not to say

Meanwhile, your TOV should be:

  • An easy to follow guide
  • A comprehensive guide

Below, we break down how these sections should look.

Your company personality

This is the best starting point. It often reflects the leadership of the business. If you are a straightforward ‘tell it how it is’ type of person, this is likely to come through in your company’s’ personality.

Try not to be generic, get the specifics nailed here and you will find the rest of the sections much easier to complete. List a series of traits you want to represent in a sentence and that will become your company personality.

For example:

  • Are you fun or serious?
  • Are you empowering and uplifting?
  • Are you friendly yet informative?
  • Are you friendly yet ambitious?
  • Are you quirky and out there?
  • Are there words you wouldn’t use?
  • Are there words you always use?
  • Do you talk directly to customers or in the third person?

Your company values 

How and why did you set up your company, these are the values you’ll already know. You will likely not have written these down.

So, they need to be expressed in this document. Often, they will be a reflection of you as a business owner and your product, service or industry. Once you have figured out your value, put it as your company personality.

For example:

  • Do you value fairness?
  • Do you value honesty?
  • Do you value trustworthiness?
  • Do you value boldness?
  • Do you value integrity?
  • Is the customer experience important to you?
  • Is accountability important to you?

What not to say

So far, we have covered what to include and guidelines regarding what you should say as a business. An important fact now is how you as a business will not communicate. 

This will be a simpler process once you have addressed the preceding sections. Once you have the first two sections completed you can easily define how you will not communicate with your customers.

This is vital to your team as your company grows. New members of staff can refer to this document for social posts, blogs, brochures etc. without having to refer to senior members of staff or wasting time with needless proofreading. 

Bear this in mind;

If these sections are tough to complete, revisit your first steps, as it may be due to something you are missing there. 

See this project as building blocks to complete. Don’t skip or scrimp on any stage – you will appreciate it later!

Remember, this will be a live document, it may well need changing as the business changes and adapts to market forces, employs new staff or creates new departments. With this in mind, it makes sense to have a responsible person maintain this document throughout the company.  

Conclusion

In conjunction with your brand document, this provides the blueprint for your business and its content marketing strategy. As a leader, you can be confident that with this document, your staff will know exactly how to act and communicate from within your company.

The consistent approach will generate brand appeal and over time generate advocates within your customer base, ensuring further engagement. It allows customers to see you for who you are, rather than just another company.

As we all know, customers buy from and engage with people, not companies, it is an emotional process, and the way you express yourself is vital to achieving this.

Consistency in Tone of Voice and branding is key to the success of any business, and something we strongly advocate and deliver here at Relative Marketing. To find out how we can help you get your Tone of Voice right and deliver it effectively to your customers and potential customers, get in touch with us today.

Adam Waring profile picture

About the author

Adam has been involved in digital marketing for over 10 years and developed the love of all things marketing after running his own company selling baby goods. He used to be in a band, and after a gig in Ibiza, gave Groove Armada a lift back to the airport. He is SEO & Content Strategist, so he is responsible for integrating digital marketing channels in terms of SEO, driving website traffic and increasing return on investment.

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