It’s not always what you say that’s the most important thing – it’s how you say it. The words you choose, the length of your sentences, how formal you are…all these things play a role in how your content is received by different people. Tone of voice guidelines are an effective way to build trust in your brand.
They can help you:
– Assess your business’s core values
– Identify your key consumers
– Draft content that will appeal to the right people
Want to know more about tone of voice guidelines? Check the questions below or drop me a line for more information.
Tone of Voice Guidelines FAQs
What are tone of voice guidelines?
Tone of voice guidelines – sometimes called brand tone of voice guidelines or brand guidelines – are a set of rules and recommendations used to inform the content a business produces, the way it phrases things, how it communicates its core values, and how it appeals to its target market.
Why are tone of voice guidelines important?
Tone of voice guidelines inform what a brand says and how they say it, helping them to appeal to their target audience/s and build a consistent, engaging and trusted ‘brand personality’ through content.
Research shows that familiarity has strong links with trust, which is why things like the Know, Like, Trust factor play an important role in content marketing. A brand that uses a consistent and appropriate tone of voice is likely to become familiar to, and trusted by, its target audience.
How do tone of voice guidelines help to improve your copywriting?
As the name suggests, brand tone of voice guidelines help to inform the content your business produces and publishes. They can be used to improve your existing content and shape future content, helping to build trust in your brand and encourage consumer engagement.
Tone of voice guidelines are particularly helpful for copywriting as your business may have a number of people producing content at any one time. Guidelines can help writers to know what they can and can’t say, and how they should phrase things in order to best appeal to your target audience – this keeps your brand consistent and reduces the number of rewrites and amendments needed over time.
What kinds of things do tone of voice guidelines cover
Tone of voice and brand guidelines can cover a wide variety of things and are designed to be added to over time – their contents will vary depending on your business, your target market, your service areas and your industry, to name just a few things.
However, most tone of voice guidelines will include information on:
– Your brand’s core values
– The things that matter to your customers
– Informal vs. formal language
– Technical language and jargon
– Colloquialisms, slang and swearing
– Customer presence (whether you mention your customer directly or not)
– Pronouns and grammar
– Context and convention (how your language adapts for different media and platforms)
Do I need tone of voice guidelines for every copywriting project?
Generally you only need one set of brand tone of voice guidelines unless your business has a number of distinct brands and/or is targeting a number of distinct audiences that respond better to differing approaches. For example, the Co-Operative has a grocery brand, a funeral brand and a financial services brand – the tone of voice for each of these is likely to be quite different.
Are tone of voice guidelines important for social media?
Tone of voice guidelines are just as vital for social media accounts as they are for static content such as website content and blog content. Increasingly, consumers are using social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook to connect directly with brands – asking them questions, making complaints, and following them for updates.
Brand tone of voice guidelines can help your business attract and engage with potential customers on social media, retain them as an interested audience, and build trust and goodwill. Clearly-written tone of voice guidelines can help the people managing your social media accounts to be an authentic voice for your business.
Are tone of voice and brand guidelines important for blogs?
Regular, well-written and engaging blog content should play an important role in your business’s inbound content marketing strategy, drawing visitors to your website through SEO and social media shares, positioning your brand as an industry voice, and encouraging consumers to engage with you.
Tone of voice guidelines are an effective way to ensure your blogs attract the right audience and hit the right note every time, appealing to your ideal customer and giving them the information they want in a way that speaks directly to them. Guidelines are particularly helpful when there are multiple people producing content for your business – it gives writers something to refer to, and gives you a written record of how your content should be produced.
How long does writing tone of voice or brand guidelines take?
Writing tone of voice guidelines isn’t generally a time-consuming activity. If you are hiring a copywriter to draft your brand tone of voice guidelines, they will usually need to do the following:
– Research your business, its service areas, and its audience/s
– Review your existing content and discuss with you what works and what doesn’t
– Speak with your content producers
– Conduct competitor analysis to see what popular businesses in your industry are doing
– Draft the guidelines and some example copy if required.
Depending on how quickly all the necessary information can be sourced, drafting tone of voice guidelines generally takes from a day to a week.
Does having tone of voice guidelines mean we can’t swear or use slang
Not at all – plenty of highly successful, easily recognisable brands use swearing, slang, sarcasm and jokes in their content. For some audiences, straight-laced just isn’t the way to go.
Tone of voice guidelines can help to inform your more provocative content as well as your more standard stuff. For example, some swear-words may be acceptable while others may not, or you may feel swear-words are appropriate for adding a bit of zest to a sentence, but shouldn’t be used as direct insults – guidelines will help prevent slip-ups, while enabling you to retain the cheeky or provocative tone your audience has come to know and enjoy.
Can we write our own tone of voice or brand guidelines?
While you might want to hire someone to draft your full tone of voice guidelines, it’s always good to know where to start so you can brief your copywriter effectively. Once you’ve done some prep-work, you may find that you feel comfortable drafting your own tone of voice guidelines in-house.