What sets authors apart? Subject matter? Historical context? It really boils down to their words. Read these three literary excerpts.
- The master was a fat, healthy man; but he turned very pale. He gazed in stupefied astonishment on the small rebel for some seconds, and then clung for support to the copper.
- When spring came, even the false spring, there were no problems except where to be happiest. The only thing that could spoil a day was people and if you could keep from making engagements, each day had no limits.
- It is a curious thing, Harry, but perhaps those who are best suited to power are those who have never sought it. Those who, like you, have leadership thrust upon them, and take up the mantle because they must, and find to their own surprise that they wear it well.
These are clearly from different authors. One is a British master (Charles Dickens), an American man’s man (Ernest Hemingway), and an Edinburgh single mother with a love of magic (J.K. Rowling). Without knowing who was who, you could tell simply from the test that every passage was at least from a different person (yet alone a different time period).
How does your business communication relate to this? Is your company’s voice recognizable?
Could you look at 4 different company whitepapers or pages of your website and feel like they are written by different people?
It’s often overlooked, but the voice and tone of a company is as important as color palette, iconography, and photographic style. Below are four reasons why you need to put more emphasis on your company’s voice and tone.
It adds to the consistency of your brand. What kinds of words you use, sentence length/complexity, use of descriptors are all things to consider. It’s just like visual brand consistency. Consistent voice and tone makes it easy for new team members to integrate and start communicating for the company. It creates a regular expected voice for your company that is almost as recognizable as your logo and tagline.
2. Identity and Culture
Who you are as a business and as a brand is important. You know how MailChimp, Chase, McDonald’s, UPS, and many well known brands sound. Hospitals speak differently than banks. Mountain Dew speaks differently than Diet Coke. Your brand has a personality and you should be reflecting that in your words on the web, in print and in all communications.
3. Customer Relationship
Are you talking in their vernacular? Are you talking up to them? Down at them? Are you trying to educate them? Do you just want to sell to them? Your content and how you deliver it engages your customer is different ways.
- Come to the zoo.
- You really should go to the zoo.
- Go to the zoo!
- The zoo is great. It would be a shame if you missed out.
- You’re fun (so is the zoo).
These all say the same thing, but all sound very different. Do you want to be more imperative? Do you want to have a sense of humor about your brand? Do you want to be seen as a trusted friend?
This post is full of questions that are meant to help you and your organization create a voice and tone that conveys your brand across every communication vehicle. Voice and tone are part of who you are as a company and who you are as a group of people working toward a goal.
The old aphorism remains true: “It’s not what you say. It’s how you say it.”
How do YOU want to say it?