Article

Mary Sun
Mary Sun 21 March 2019

Does Your Tone of Voice Have to Differ Across Marketing Channels You Use?

Every time your brand places an ad, updates a website copy, presents at a public event, or posts a social media post, there is one key element you are showcasing. And no, it’s not only your brand name. It’s your tone of voice.

When someone says, “Watch your tone!” you’ll likely think about not only what you said but also how you delivered it. Tone is not only present in speech; it is a driving force in marketing, specifically in branding strategies.

At this point in your business, you may have already settled on what logo, color palette, and headline copy to use online. But branding must involve these elements and more. It’s the combination of every piece of detail that you associate with your brand.

The tone of voice is how the character of your business comes into being — the overall impression that consumers form when they see and hear about your brand.

Compared to the brick and mortar store, the online landscape gives you a myriad of ways to communicate with your target audience. Your website, social media accounts, blogs, and other platforms all enable you to have a conversation with users.

The tone of voice is how you feel about your message and how you want the users to feel about your message.

Does Your Tone of Voice Have to Differ Across Marketing Channels?

With so many marketing channels in the web, the question is, “Do you have to craft a distinct tone of voice for each one?” The resounding answer is no.

In fact, you have to make your tone of voice unified across marketing channels.

Forbes mentions that consistent brand presentation across platforms can increase revenue by 23%. That means you have to plan your tone of voice the same way you would approach creating your logo or packaging design — as carefully thought out as possible.

Your brand identity and core values will actually guide you in determining what style of copywriting, what design aesthetic, and what other details will communicate your singular message.

Crafting a Unified Tone of Voice for All Marketing Channels

For your brand to stand out and cut through all the noise on the Internet, it’s important that you have a distinguishable tone of voice across your marketing initiatives.

It's recommended to develop guidelines, which answers all the questions about your tone of voice, so everyone who is/will be responsible for creating copy for your website, newsletters, social media knows how to speak with your brand's audience. If you do not make photos in-house, it's better to choose a curated source of quality photo collections and video sets.

Here are a few examples showing how companies are keeping their tone of voice unified across channels:

  • Cool and Casual: AYR

AYR (pronounced “air”) or All Year Round is a New York-based clothing line. The brand was launched by four friends back in 2014, and its main draw is “seasonless essentials for everyday life.”

Because the brand speaks to a young and modern buyer persona, the chosen tone of voice is chatty, casual, and one that doesn’t take itself too seriously — much like a close friend.

The website copy is colloquial, even product names and descriptions are witty, but in an inside-joke-with-your-best-friend kind of way:

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AYR keeps the tone of voice consistent in its social media posts, as shown here on their Instagram page. There’s constant humor and use of slang, and the feel is casual. The brand talks to its followers as if they were close friends.

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AYR’s branding strategy gives us an idea that it’s okay to be colloquial, casual, and sassy if your clientele will respond to this approach.

  • Warm and Friendly: Innocent

Innocent is a London-based beverage brand that started in 1999. The brand embodies an approachable and positive tone of voice, like a friendly neighbor ready to help.

The target consumer is a fun-loving personality who’s also health-conscious and interested in natural and delicious treats.

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The brand subscribes to a warm, conversational tone that’s appealing for the everyday customer. On their website, the Products tab is labeled “things we make,” and the About Us page is made even simpler with just “us.” Even the use of all lowercase letters and the characteristic childlike font keeps the amiable personality consistent.

They’ve chosen bright, but comforting colors and do not oversaturate images with details. Pay attention to this: even minimalistic design speaks loudly. You can also try variations of this style for your developing your brand’s visual voice, for instance, using discreet layout and noticeably outlined photos of products.

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On their Twitter page, the posts are casual and inject some humor without being sarcastic. Everything’s just fun and wholesome.

From the email sign-up that gives you “love, friendship, and a weekly newsletter” to the unexpected “bananaphone” number if you want to contact the main office, Innocent gives you an authentic voice that’s not exactly revolutionary, but certainly fitting to their core values.

  • Motivational: Nike

Nike is one of the most recognizable brands worldwide, and it’s no accident that they enjoy such success. One key factor is their consistent tone of voice. They’re always giving their audience inspiring and powerful messages, be it the news section on their website, or social media profiles.

Their copy goes beyond their products; you are inspired to not just buy the shoes, but to get out there and run a marathon in them — “Just Do It.”

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While Nike posts a lot of social media content about celebrity athlete endorsers, there are also quite a few posts like the one above. This Instagram ad is a bit pushy, but it also makes you want to get up and keep going even if trying to get fit is hard.

There’s no standout product on display here, and the caption doesn’t explicitly advertise their merchandise. But this ad packs a punch and is memorable for anyone who sees it. Indeed, the emotions are so aligned with the brand’s core values, which is why the message sticks.

Nike shows the importance of going back to your foundation and mission statement, letting people know what they stand for.

Think of adjectives that describe your company, and let that guide what tone of voice you will adopt. Think about your company’s processes as well. Whether you are sourcing sustainable materials, partner with local suppliers, or focus on social responsibility in your hiring practices, make sure your consumers are aware of it. As much as 94% of consumers say they are likely to be loyal to brands that offer complete transparency.

Customers appreciate brands that stick to their core values. Inconsistencies breed mistrust. And when your target audience finds that you share their set of beliefs, they respond to that positively.

Keep Working on It

Branding encompasses all the elements you associate with your brand. And having a unified tone of voice makes your messaging and brand identity much clearer and approachable for consumers.

For your tone of voice to be effective, you have to strike a balance between incorporating your beliefs and considering your target audience’s preferences.

The best way to know which tone works for your brand is to conduct testing. Remember, there’s no single strategy that will give your brand that instant success. You will inevitably need to adjust or make improvements along the way. Especially with different marketing channels, keeping a unified tone of voice is a constant work in progress.

The good news is, if you start with who you are as a company and what you stand for, you can be more aware of what to convey to your potential customers and how to do it.

1. Stick to Your Beliefs and Who You Are

In digital marketing, as with face-to-face marketing, you have to let people get to know you the way you want them to. One surefire way to do that is by sticking to your belief system.

Do you prefer to connect with others in a friendly vibe? Then be enthusiastic and even crack a few jokes here and there. Are you a family-targeted brand? Make your copies wholesome and appealing to parents.

Aside from that, share information about your company’s transparent processes. Whether you are sourcing sustainable materials, partner with local suppliers, or focus on social responsibility in your hiring practices, make sure your consumers are aware of it.

2. Monitor Audience Engagement

When you’re establishing your tone of voice, you need to look at where your brand voice is most evident.

Some of the most popular places include replies in social media, calls-to-action, captions of photos and videos on Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, and other channels, direct messages to customers, and bio information.

Practicing consistency and care through all these avenues will make your audience trust you and move on further through the conversion funnel.

Be on the lookout especially for negative mentions. It’s understandable since consumers want to voice out their opinion and want to share their experience with others.

Since mistakes are inevitable, it’s important that you monitor brand mentions, and respond appropriately (in your tone of voice) to any complaints. That will make a big difference in how dissatisfied customers and their peers will perceive your brand.

3. Be Organized

While you cannot plan well ahead with customer service replies and DMs to your customers, you can do so with the rest of your copies.

Therefore, you can make life easier by planning your posts in advance. That gives you enough time to think about how to be consistent with your tone of voice.

Set up a content calendar to help you schedule and keep track of certain events. Have your social media team follow certain guidelines when creating content. Make a written standard guideline part of your marketing strategy.

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