Does your brand need a very specific tone of voice? Let’s dive into the pillars that comprise a tone of voice.
TOV DRIVES COMMUNICATION
Tone of voice is the way in which we write and speak, what we say and how we say it. Like a person, what we say is dictated by our principles, experiences, and aspirations, how we say it is driven by our personality.
TOV SEPARATES YOU FROM YOUR COMPETITION
Like any professional network organization or sports organization, we are competing. We’re competing to be the best, we are competing to win. So, we need to be clear about what makes us different from, as well as preferred, over other networks.
More importantly, we need to be able to communicate this to our respective audiences. Some examples include:
- CORPORATE PARTNERS
CONSISTENCY IN TOV IS EVERYTHING
BRANDS COMMUNICATE IN THREE WAYS:
THE WAY WE LOOK, THE WAY WE SOUND AND THE WAY WE BEHAVE.
Our verbal identity is a crucial part of who we are and how we connect with people, be it colleagues, members, or business partners. It comprises our tone of voice through personality, philosophy, principles, and communication. We’ll take a look at each of these below.
The more consistent we are, the more likely it is that people will understand what makes us special. The way we express ourselves has to be joint and consistent so that people admire, respect, and trust us. When we say we’re the best, our tone of voice must evoke the emotion that we are the best. A strong verbal identity that we all understand and know how to use will project our organization’s founding culture.
What’s our brand personality?
If you take a look at the above diagram, there are several brand archetypes, and many brands try to fit the majority of their communications into one bucket or “personality”. Is your brand personality is fun, spirited, and relatable? Is it a factual, conforming, and respectful attitude? Is it carefree and loving? Write down a list of traits that your brand embraces and see which personality is most aligned. The below exercise is an example.
Our defining traits are:
Determined, Competitive, Tenacious, Resilient, Admirable, Heroic, Authentic, Lighthearted, Reliable
YOUR BRAND’S INTERNAL VISION:
We don’t talk about our vision to the outside world. Our vision is there to guide us in our daily decisions and actions and to give us a clear focus for our efforts. It should rarely find its way into our communication with people outside the network. Here is an example:
We aim to provide structure and leave a mark.
If we’re living, and talking about, our principles and personality, our ambitions will come across loud and clear. We use it as a guiding principle when we’re writing and/or speaking.
Next, define a few words to help define and identify our vision.
WORDS WE USE INTERNALLY THAT FOUND OUR TONE OF COMMUNICATION
Competitive, Exclusive, Elite, Playful, Insightful, Innovative
It’s fun and motivating to craft one sentence that can stand alone in a piece of communication, but can also be broken into several supporting statements that back your brand philosophy. The following is an example:
We inspire a collaborative approach to knowledge to make a positive impact on members and their professional successes.
WE – we work together as a team, in the same direction towards the same goals. We embrace a supportive culture here, which brings about the best in everyone.
INSPIRE – we actively inspire new and different ways of thinking and doing things. We stimulate thought and challenge and push to make it happen.
A COLLABORATIVE APPROACH – we collaborate with each other, cooperating between our teams and people to create exciting ventures and break new ground.
TO KNOWLEDGE – we create and disseminate knowledge through our firsthand experiences and share our insights with networks and teams.
TO MAKE A POSITIVE IMPACT – we believe passionately that we are designed to build significant success for our like-minded audience. It is the core of our existence, as our members strive to achieve the level of excellence in their professional careers they experienced in their former roles.
ON MEMBERS – this creates an exciting environment and new opportunities for each and every person who adorns our company, as well as those they collaborate with.
AND THEIR PROFESSIONAL SUCCESSES – the way we create and apply knowledge has a direct and positive impact on each person, as well as the society at large. Our integrated and hands-on approach gives real-life relevance to our audience journeys.
These are the core beliefs that you hold dear and would stick to no matter what, even if it cost you money. Treat these beliefs like your love for a person.
- COLLABORATION: A sense of belonging in a safe and noble environment.
- CHALLENGING: A competitive and positive will to be the best.
- MOTIVATING: A community of respectful peers supporting each other.
- HONORABLE: An ethical source of growth and performance.
- EXCELLENCE: A place where self-discovery and experience drive ultimate success.
How do principles influence what we say in written or verbal communication? They inform what we say and how we say it. They should come through in the content of our language and the messages we try to communicate.
How to express brand principles
Imagine a person who is collaborative, challenging, motivating, honorable and/or excellent. Because words are slippery, we’ve defined what we do and don’t mean by each one.
Take each of these defining words and think of examples that demonstrate them. Always bear in mind what you’re trying to say, who you’re talking to and where. This will affect which examples, facts and stories you choose. Each principle has a number of nuances, we’ll want to use different ones depending on who and how we’re talking to, and when.
The more specific we can be about our claims, the more convincing they will be. Think of specific examples of where these qualities have come to the fore and how they have been successful. The following is an example.
One: We believe in COLLABORATION
What does this mean?
Joined-up thinking, being a team, mutual understanding, openness, cooperation, responsiveness.
What does this not mean?
Having to do things in a certain way, giving in, just doing what we’re asked, being weak, unstructured, selfish or portraying a sense of entitlement.
How does ‘collaboration’ sound?
Collaboration is very important to us. This is about our ability to bring people together and make exciting things happen. It’s active and dynamic, not weak or unfocused. We can do this because of the sheer scale, size and diversity we offer in one relatively compact network. But it’s also because of our culture and our collaborative way of working. We are open to new thinking, new people, and a mutual willingness to share ideas and knowledge.
Then, work similarly to expand on how to express the other brand principles you have defined.
THINGS TO CONSIDER IN YOUR TOV: STRUCTURED BRAND GENERAL WRITING TIPS
Think about what you are trying to say: Take a few moments first. What are you trying to say? Jot down the main points. Don’t worry about structuring them. Let the ideas flow; you can organize them later.
Remember who you are talking to: What’s important to them? What would excite or help them? How much time do they have? How old are they? The more detailed the picture, the easier it will be to write for them. Think of someone you know who is in this target audience. Imagine them sitting right in front of you. Read it out. Would you talk to this person like this?
Create a clear structure: Divide your work into manageable paragraphs of no more than eight sentences and sentences of no more than 20-25 words with a single idea in each. This helps create a clear narrative that people can easily navigate. It helps you get your message across too.
Use headings: Headlines for chapters, pages, sub-sections and paragraphs create a narrative. These act as signposts for busy readers and ensure they get, even at the quickest glance, some of the messages you want them to.
Just start: Now you have the bones for a structure. Start writing. Write to your structure but let the ideas flow. Don’t worry about getting it right first time. You can edit later.
Edit, edit, edit: Always edit. Editing is as important as writing itself. The art of great editing is knowing when to stop. Strive for concision, but don’t cut it back so far that the language has no personality. Be brutal. Your writing will be better for it.
Avoid the passive: Why? The passive sounds weaker, is less direct, more formal and impersonal. Have a look at this simple example: “Your letter will be replied to in due course.” Versus “We’ll reply as soon as we can.”
Get straight to the point: No-one has time to navigate reams of copy to find out what you’re trying to say. Get to the point quickly and make it interesting. Be clear about what you want to say and stick to it.
Abbreviations and acronyms: Decide if you want to use and/or allow abbreviations and acronyms externally and/or internally.
Emojis: Decide if you want to avoid the use of emojis externally and/or internally – or if you want to use the poo emoji out them.