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Tone of voice….and how to find yours

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Have you ever seen footage of BBC television programmes from the 1920’s? If you have you’ll remember the tone of voice was very specific – posh, plummy English was the only tone of voice allowed!

Things have moved on a bit since then and you’ll now find a huge range of voices on television and radio, but tone of voice also applies when you are writing a social media post or blog or even presenting a visual image to a prospective customer.

The most important thing about tone of voice is to get the right one for your audience. Cillit Bang is well known for Barry Scott’s loud, brash tone of voice and their catchphrase ‘Bang! And the dirt is gone’ – it works for them, but if Johnsons Baby products were to adopt the same tone it would be very jarring.

So how do you find your tone of voice? The best place to start is with the definition of your target audience and of course your brand’s unique selling points.

If your brand is knowledgeable and trustworthy and your clients are serious business people, then your tone of voice needs to be serious, weighty and reassuring, and certainly not silly, funny or flighty. However if your target audience is students and your brand is fun and recreational then you definitely SHOULD have a light and amusing tone. It will be fine for you to use emojis and LMFAO!

The same technique can be applied to choosing an image, fun, cartoony images are fine for fun brands, but serious subjects need a more careful approach. Just because you like little cartoons and use them in your personal Facebook posts, doesn’t mean they are appropriate for your business communications.

The final thing to remember about tone of voice is consistency. We all get very used to a certain tone of voice from our favourite brands and any deviation from that tone, even the use of ‘I’ instead of ‘we’ when talking about your work or achievements can be very strange.

Once you have found your tone of voice you can employ it in all your marketing; brochures, social media, website, email newsletters and even your actual conversations with clients.