How your company speaks to its audience/potential customers is really important. Here, we're explaining why you need to define your brand’s voice and tone (and all the good things that will happen when you do!)
For decades, you may have fallen in love with brands purely based on their personality. Perhaps you love the exquisite high-end feel of Mercedes-Benz (injected with just the right amount of humour) or maybe you’re more swayed by the bold fearless energy that comes from Monki. Defining your brand’s voice and tone is really important as you need to set out with clear intentions of who you are speaking to and what your company sounds like.
Firstly, what’s the difference between brand voice and brand tone
So we like to think of brands as having a personality. At Honeycombers for example, our brand voice is young, playful, fun, and humorous. This is very different to say The New York Times or Monocle. All of our articles, social media, videos, and newsletters speak in our brand voice.
Every brand needs a defined voice, but there are situations when your brand will need to change its tone. Just like a person who may be generally young, fun, playful, and humorous (like Honeycombers), there will be occasions when this will need to be altered (when they feel sad, are dealing with confrontation etc.) Case in point: COVID-19.
During lockdowns, uncertainty, and WFH, our editors across Singapore, Bali, Hong Kong, and HoneyKids had to work hard on getting the tone right across the multiple sites. We had to reign in the funnies and really deliver authentic content that was almost more in the vein of hard news. Of course we still injected our Honeycombers flair too, as we felt people needed a break from sombre language, but our tone changed significantly.
Why do you need to define your brand’s voice and tone?
1) Creating a lifetime connection with your audience
In the age of digital, where millions of brands are competing for market share every day, it’s never been more important to define your company’s voice and tone. It’s said that your customer will have seven interactions with your brand before purchase, so if they don’t like the words you choose, the Facebook posts you share, or the message you’re delivering, then is it even worth getting out of bed in the morning? (It is. Because we can help you fix this!)
It doesn’t matter if you are starting a small e-commerce platform, launching a restaurant, or starting a law firm. Every single word that reaches your audience needs to be well thought out and written in a voice that represents your brand the best way it can. It’s that simple.
2) Mobile technology has changed things forever
Look, I love print publishing as much as anyone I know (you should see the stack of design magazines sitting behind me as I type this), and having worked in the print publication industry for years, I get it’s appeal. But the fact is, we are now living in a hyper-digital world.
Whether you are advertising, doing your own content marketing, or just running your social media channels, you now have to consider writing for small mobile phones. It’s estimated that over 90% of people nowadays get their news and information directly off their mobile phones while eating lunch, travelling to/from work, or even just scrolling while at home.
There is a real art to writing for mobile devices and social media. You need to know how many characters fit in certain places, how many words will show up on Facebook, and you need to unlearn all those things you learned at high school and university about more being more. We understand that crafting the message you want to convey in your brand’s voice with only 280 characters can be challenging, but if you don’t, you’re missing out on important conversations.
3) You need to stand out
The other day when we were having a meeting about Digital Collective, a new member of the team who had only just seen the website asked a really great question: Why have you positioned the brand as young and fun if it’s providing a professional service?
Well, we believe that professional services and fun don’t have to be mutually exclusive. Does the world really need another agency using buzzwords and making things very formal for its clients? We don’t think so. One of our core values is helping brands, so our brand personality for Digital Collective is: innovative, reliable, friendly, and modern.
By writing and sharing information in a very human way, we believe that we can deliver better content and services to our clients. And this also makes us stand out amongst the crowd.
4) It makes things easier when you have multiple people writing your communications
So right now, your brand may be in its infancy, but let’s think a few years down the track to when you are growing exponentially and hiring social media managers, a marketing team, and running advertising campaigns (or maybe you’re already there!) If you don’t have your brand personality nailed, then it makes it harder to explain it to other people.
At Honeycombers, we work with a number of international brands on the regular, including Muji, Macao Tourism Board, Desa Potato Head, and Onitsuka Tiger. These brands come to work with us repeatedly as we understand each one’s individual brand personality and use this as a jumping off point for all the writing and videos we create for them.
The collaboration infuses the Honeycombers brand voice into the already established client voice to create a product that speaks to our readers in a way that the client feels good about.
There is an art and science to creating your brand’s voice and tone, but if done well, you will soon be reaping the benefits of taking the time to work on this and winning customers (and fans) along the way.
If you enjoyed this article, you may also want to read our thoughts on Growth Hacking.