Do you know the difference between voice and tone? Even accomplished writers are sometimes left scratching their heads. Simply put, as a writer or brand, you have one voice that is pretty well set in stone — it’s that essence that tells the reader you wrote this — but your tone can change based on topic, situation, and audience.
That last factor, the audience, is the key element when establishing tone, whether you are writing a blog, building website copy, composing a tweet, or providing context to a design asset.
Knowing a brand’s audience is the first step toward identifying tone. Writers who create content for brands often rely on excessively formal tone, but your brand’s customers almost always prefer a casual tone, regardless of the brand in question.
Always remember the 7-38-55 rule. There are three elements of communication, but words only account for 7 percent of our communication. The other 93 percent is divided between body language (55 percent) and tone (38 percent). Sorry to report, but you can’t convey body language in your writing (¯\_(ツ)_/¯), so tone is king. Words will tell the story, but tone is what hooks the reader.
Establish trust in website copy and blogs
People read blogs as an expression of their curiosity. When writing for a brand’s website or blog, assume that readers have landed there for a reason. They know the brand, or in the very least, they have an expectation and understanding about the subject matter. How should you prepare?
Blog readers express a sense of trust and interest in your topic, so they’re yours to lose. Treat your audience like a friendly colleague. Build off of the assumptions above and offer relatability, but don’t get too light — this medium is about informing while avoiding the fluff.
Setting a social tone
Social platforms present a level of distraction not found on brand websites, so your updates need to be attention-grabbing and digestible. Brevity is your friend. You can be certain that followers are interested in your brand so be engaging, concise, and appropriate.
Study similar brands in the industry for do’s and don’ts. People use social media for the human connection, not just information. Strive to be conversational and catchy, but don’t go over the top. Bottom line: Be authentic to your brand.
Don’t forget design
As with social, your tone in providing design context needs to be brief, but it also must pull the reader in quickly. Effective design is just as important of a communication tool as the words in your blog or the carefully debated hashtag.
Your designer makes your words pop. Return the favor by sharing your vision early in the drafting process, even if it’s just a measly tweet. Your content is likely to resonate when its design elements are complementary and eye-catching.
Telling your story your way
No matter the platform, you’re always telling a story. Evangelizing a brand effectively takes careful calculation and experience, yes, but it really boils down to good ole communication and knowing how your brand should express itself. Words will get you there, but it all starts with tone.