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A simple trick for finding your business’ tone of voice

Photo by Nathan Dumlao

Think for a second about how your favorite brands make you feel when they speak to you. Now imagine how you want your customers to feel when you speak to them.  The way you achieve that is by finding the right tone of voice for your brand.

Are you confused about what tone of voice is and why it’s so important for your brand? We’re dedicating this post to unraveling the ins-and-outs of tone of voice. You’ll learn what it is, why it works, and how to use it. Let’s dive right in.

What is tone of voice?

In its simplest form, your tone of voice is the way you communicate with others. Whether you’re speaking or writing, the words you use shape your tone of voice. Though, it’s less about what you say and more about how you say it.

Let’s take something as simple as greeting someone. You could say, “Hello, how are you?” or “Hey, what’s up?” Each greeting means the same thing, but the first is more formal than the second. The wording you choose to express yourself is what tone of voice is all about. Words shape how your audience perceives and interacts with you.

Your voice impacts your business

Finding your tone of voice matters for a few reasons. The first is that it gives consumers an instant idea of what kind of business you are. Like with the “hello” example, the way you talk to your audience reveals a lot about your business.

Let’s say you own a flower shop. Your shop is set apart by its playful atmosphere. So you should keep your tone of voice light, fun, and cheerful. Now a consumer considering your shop knows that you’re different than the other shops. Instead of getting lumped in with more traditional outfits, you’re distinguished as the playful shop.

Finding your voice helps you build your relationship with your audience. Consumers gravitate toward brands that they know and like, that stand out from the crowd. Especially if brands represent them or their lifestyle (or the lifestyle they want) in some way. If consumers feel connected to you, they’re more likely to become a loyal customer.

The trick to finding your tone of voice

We’ve figured it out. The easiest way to think about a brand’s tone of voice is to imagine going on a date with it.

Going steady with Apple

Let’s take Apple, for example. Based on what you know about Apple, what would a date with them be like? Since you can’t date an iPhone, we’re going to do the next best thing and pretend Apple is a person. To crack the code on their tone of voice, all you need to do is ask yourself three questions. 

Where did you meet? How are they dressed? How do they make you feel?

Going on a date with Apple would be easy. You’d meet at a modern cocktail bar — one with large windows, streamlined design elements, and an uncomplicated menu. It goes without saying, the bar infuses their own vodkas and sources garnishes from local farmers. Apple looks polished in a t-shirt and jeans. Right off the bat you click. Apple understands you in a way that most people don’t — they’re intuitive. The surface-level chitchat fades into something more meaningful. Apple makes you feel understood. After the date you describe Apple as modern, polished, and intuitive.

Every brand has an identity. Think of some of the top spirit brands, for example. Say your significant other’s parents ask you to bring a bottle of vodka to their dinner party.  You’re torn between Grey Goose and Smirnoff. Your perception of the brand plays a crucial role in your decision.

You pick Grey Goose because it fits your lifestyle better (or maybe the lifestyle you want them to think you live). You feel this way based on the image you have solely from the way Grey Goose markets itself. Consumers face choices like this every day. It’s paramount to define your brand values and find your corresponding tone of voice.

Try it out

Now it’s your turn. To define your brand, think about someone going on a date with your business. Where would you meet this person, what would you wear, and what feeling would your date walk away with? After you answer all these questions, think about the three words your date would use to describe you.

Do you have them?

Congratulations! You’ve made your first step toward defining your brand and finding your tone of voice. Check out part two of our series to learn how to optimize your tone of voice for your audience

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The information above is provided for educational and informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice and may not be suitable for your circumstances. Unless stated otherwise, references to third-party links, services, or products do not constitute endorsement by Yelp.

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