Last month, we welcomed our new team member Liz to the Rin Hamburgh & Co family. One of the reasons I was so keen to bring Liz on board is that she’s really different from me. Where I’m all about ideas and the big picture, she excels at the detail. Systems, processes, spreadsheet - that’s her happy place, and it’s such a relief to know she’s able to balance out my skills with her own.
But what about when it comes to creating content for the business? What happens when she takes to social media or drafts an email to our clients? Will people be confused by a dramatically different tone of voice, inconsistent with the Rin Hamburgh & Co brand?
This is a potential issue for any business as it expands. The more people who are contributing to the content you produce, the more it risks being watered down. Consistency in branding is crucial for building the kind of trust that in turn generates sales and loyalty. So how do you ensure that you maintain your brand tone of voice?
What makes a brand tone of voice?
First of all, you’ll need to think about what your brand tone of voice is. This is something many business owners just don’t consider, especially when they’re starting out, simply going with their own natural style. Unfortunately this doesn’t take into account the way your audience needs to be communicated with.
Think about the way you talk to your boss, your colleagues, your other half, your kids. While you remain the same person, the way you communicate will change based on the person you’re communicating with and your relationship with them.
Brand tone of voice needs to combine the personality and values of the brand with consideration of the brand’s relationship with the client. So if you’ve not got your client personas sorted, that’s the place to start. Once you’re clear on who you are and who you’re talking to, you can start to figure out what that language should look like.
Creating a brand tone of voice document
But going back to the issue of a growing team and consistency in your content, it’s not enough to have simply thought about your brand tone of voice. You need to document it so that other people can use the guidelines to help them shape copy that truly reflects your brand.
A brand tone of voice guideline doesn’t have to be a complicated document, but it should detail such things as:
- Brand values
- Brand personality
- Target client(s)
- Client relationship
- Key messaging
It should then go on to include a mini style guide, with directions on any specific vocabulary to use or avoid, levels of formality, and decisions like whether you prefer to use while or whilst, or whether you tend to avoid contractions (ie always write out I will or do not rather than using I’ll and don’t).
Thanks to our brand tone of voice guidelines, I am confident that Liz - and anyone else who communicates on behalf of the company now and in the future - will be able to do so in the right tone of voice.