Guest post by Kate Stendahl
“Yes, Peaches, who’s a bad girl? Who peed on the carpet? Who did it? Was it you?”
Ever notice how you can speak to a dog in a happy, sing-song tone, but tell them something horrible, and they will still be really happy you’re talking with them? Tone of voice is often more important in communication than we realize. The way we send the message is often just as important as the content of the message itself, even to those of us with opposable thumbs and the ability to understand more than a few words of language.
When training animals, consistency is key. Similarly, in order to "train" one's customers about one's brand, a company needs to have a consistent message to all customers in every interaction with every part of the business. Dealing with a company that is always changing its look, sound, and values can be confusing. If part of a business’s marketing materials are very serious, and part of it is surfer talk or chatty girl-talk, it can create accessibility problems for current and potential patrons and partners. How can you trust the company, or trust that it knows who it is and what it is doing, if it doesn’t have a consistent message? The tone of voice should communicate your brand’s values and qualities. A company needs to decide not only the message it wants to get across, but the best way to deliver that message.
Tone should be appropriate to the brand, and needs to be consistent in all communications to be effective. If you are a banker, you probably don’t want to sign your formal documents with pink ink and a heart dotting the “I”s. On the other hand, if you sell stationery to pre-teen girls, having pink lettering with sparkles on your website may be exactly what you want. This is where tone of voice and brand guidelines come in. If the rules for how to communicate with the outside world are set out, then despite having multiple authors write about the brand, the brand will retain its integrity. Another benefit of unified communications is that the company is much more agile in PR situations. It can be much easier and quicker to use language to differentiate the brand or ensure certain points are made.
The most important part is that the tone of your website, newsletters, blogs, networking websites and press releases all have the same look, feel, and message. This includes the tone used on your social media marketing. Often these documents are kept inside a company and never see the light of day. However, we were able to locate a few online.
That’s right, Canada is not just a country, but also a brand. Rather than dealing with a government entity, they want potential tourists to feel like they’re chatting with other travellers. They want people, especially “high yield visitors” to explore, be themselves, and experience Canada in a personal way.
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easyGroup also knows the value of a good brand manual. In a larger corporation that includes multiple businesses, such as easyJet, easyMobile and easyCruise, it is important that the look and content of the messages coming from all of these businesses is cohesive and pointed in the same direction. It gives eight brand values, the mission statement, a strategy and even sets out rules for visual media. The tone of voice easyGroup aims for is simple, direct, fun and irreverent. They are a young company and they want to promote the idea of their great value and entrepreneurial, innovative spirit.
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BA also posted its brand guide online. BA aims for a tone of voice that is straight forward, sophisticated, progressive and empathetic, and its brand guide reflects that. The BA brand is focused on quality, safety, responsibility, and even “Britishness”. BA uses a much more serious tone than easyGroup, for example. BA’s brand guide also lists professionalism as one of their core brand values. However, a misspelling on the “Our business” page lets them down. The typo is an “award-wining” (sic) example of how outside professional marketing help can help prevent future issues.
Need help with your brand manual?
Should your company need a new or improved brand manual that really gets to the heart of your business and unifies your tone of voice (or if you would like us to review it to make sure you don’t have any typos!), DevonInspiration would be happy to help you. We can also provide training materials to help you explain the brand manual and why using a uniform tone of voice is so very important. If you would rather, we would also be happy to conduct that training for your company as a whole or for key employees such as those responsible for customer communications.