Creating a voice for website copy
If you want to establish a voice for your brand, it’s important that the tone is consistent. The written word governs what we say and how we say things – it’s crucial in all forms of communication from text messages on mobile phones to social media posts about events happening now. It can be a deciding factor as to whether your product flies off the shelves or merely keeps afloat or whether your business thrives or doesn’t even survive.
The tone of voice you use in your company can make or break it. It’s important to know how people will perceive the words coming out from behind a keyboard, and this starts with what they hear. Ever fabled first impressions are vital in business and tone of voice contributes to good vibes.
What is tone of voice?
Tone of voice is the way brands say things and the style they use to express information. It can refer to either the words used or how they’re delivered, which means it’s important for both written and spoken content i.e marketing videos. It’s not exactly the same as the content itself but it’s highly linked to it. The tone should match the brands real values and to some extent their goals but most importantly it should fit the audience and intended prospects perfectly.
Tone of voice is akin to how a reader would imagine you when you’re speaking. Tone of voice is a logical step in any branding process. Done well, your verbal identity will set you on a path towards consistent success when establishing your brand.
Why it matters
Voice is an integral part of character that can be spotted in both written and visual communications. When writing, the tone should carry over from one medium to another so you transmit consistent messages across all your materials and brand assets – digital, print or whatever format they are.
Having a consistent, well-crafted voice makes you more trustworthy and reliable, at least in the minds of your audience. The reader understands what you’re saying because it is congruent with your overall message, which creates a sense of connection for those interacting, whether browsing a brochure or on a webpage. Inconsistency creates feelings that can range from confusion and even anger depending how strong those emotions happen at different points during a session browsing your content – but most importantly it sends a signal of disorganization and a lack of identity.
Leaving this impression too many times can wreak havoc on your brand and its future.
Brand vs company voice
You might think that brand or company are interchangeable terms, but they aren’t. There are a few important distinctions between these styles in practice:
- Several brands under the same umbrella or company that have well-defined unique styles.
- Purposes can be so far apart within a brand that universal application across everything leads to ridiculous outcomes. Why would Warner Bros’ corporate site have the same tone of voice as one of the online mini-games or their stand-alone app games.
- Brand and corporate videos are typically targeted at very different audiences. They may have totally separate target markets, or they might be aimed towards the same group of people in various situations over time. The audience difference between brand and corporate assets may be gigantic so the voices are not unified here.
In today’s society, many people use an inanimate object as a proxy for their personality. You can take this too far and wind up creating more problems than solutions by being literal with metaphors which leads to a hall of mirrors effect where you’re just playing around without actually talking about business reality.
Defining that voice
Genuinely unique values take some time to find. While knowledge is something a good consulting company has, it’s run-of-the-mill expected. What differentiates one company’s consulting team from another is experience in the field and more thorough partnerships.
But that’s a mouthful. The statement is both general as well as pedantic. Generic values are common all over the web. What often works is a combination of some more common ones as well as unusual ones to add a special spark. For instance:
Personable … Enthusiastic … Delightful
Gracious … Jolly … Caring
You may notice that these two sets sound like describing a person, well that’s what giving a brand a personality is about! Personification. Obviously, this has to hit the right nails on the head and only applies with certain types of companies – perhaps, a business with multiple daycare centres – which brings us onto…
With these three values, you can think about the register of your brand, as well as the grammar and vocabulary.
The register is about where your brand should sit within a continuum:
Is it chatty or straightforward?
Embellished or rustic?
Radical or inclusive?
And so on.
If you don’t know what it is, work out what it’s not and ask colleagues, even friends and family about it. Try to get some objective opinions. It’s also good to stick to the truth as much as possible. It’s never good for humans to try to be something they’re not and that pretty much applies to brands.
It’s important to consider what type of words you can and cannot use in your tone when it comes down to vocabulary. There are many different definitions for the terms “formal,” ‘flammable,” but they all have one thing- meaning. It’s ultimately upon whether or not something should be said within a certain category based on verbal cues from others that will listen (or read) them word by word; if someone doesn’t know these labels then they won’t understand why some people speak with such elegant complexity while others sound like they’re speaking through gritted teeth – both equally frustrating. It’s the same online.
Adaptive voicing throughout your brand
Spoken tone of voice varies depending on context. Elders are spoken to differently to university freshers, just like our interpersonal communication varies depending on who’s being addressed. Which is why brands need to have different verbal registers. It’s useful to split these three ways:
While the underlying character of a brand might shift, different moods are common. For example: an introduction that guides customers through their purchase from initial contact to studious detail may grow more serious as a relationship is developed over time.
A series of letters crafted with bright breezy language could change into more formal and professional-sounding for this particular mailing.
Different media require different ways of speaking. The most obvious example at the moment is social media, which may need to be more casual in nature than other online channels or offline marketing campaigns for it not to come across as too promotional.
When your brand is addressing different people, language changes. Always consider different people and groups of consumers. For instance, if your content marketing campaign includes information intended for children in addition to their parents then the tone will be informational with an enjoyable aspect so that both demographics understand what they are reading and are excited by it.
Creating a voice for your website copy as well as your brand overall isn’t exactly rocket science. But taking the task seriously can yield your business major wins when it comes to reaching goals and making your customers feel at home, willing to trust you and spend more, more often. The voice you adopt (or fail to consider) can make or break your brand.
Copywriting is a skill that demands detachment from your business, awareness of your customer’s needs and a consistent approach across all your marketing materials and platforms – don’t try to ‘DIY’ your marketing or copywriting, engage with a professional copywriter and get the job done right and in a fraction of the time!
Thoughts on outsourcing copywriting from Yorkshire Powerhouse
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