Like tone of voice in oral communication, tone of voice in marketing refers to the different ways in which a company expresses itself and communicates a message.
Although the word "voice" is used, tone of voice in marketing refers not only to spoken language, but to all verbal communication, including written language. Although this term focuses primarily on language, it should be in line with other non-verbal elements such as a brand logo, the physical appearance of a point of sale, etc.
First of all, we should pay attention to the differences between voice and tone of voice. In essence, voice is the way the company communicates, its verbal identity, and tone is the small adjustments that are made. In other words, the different tones are variations of a main line of communication, which is the voice, and which should always be maintained. But to what or whom should the voice be adapted?
Why tone of voice is important:
The configuration of a voice and the tone of voice are part of the company's branding strategy, that is, the part of marketing that focuses on building the brand image, the feeling and values it wants to convey to its customers: serious or informal, simple or premium, exclusive or with a wide variety of options, for everyone or only for a few, affordable or unaffordable... All these decisions, which make up a brand, must be exported to the public through all its channels: advertising, product packaging, quality, customer service... The company's voice can be appreciated above all in advertising, as this is loaded with language and text, but also in the brand name, in the description it gives of itself, in the communication it establishes with customers...
The identity of a brand is not only created with the aim of exporting values, but also to differentiate itself from other companies. And with this same aim in mind, the tone of voice is also defined, which, if it is effective, makes customers identify a brand just by how it addresses them. In addition, of course, a tone of voice of its own gives the brand a value of personality and originality, which are essential in marketing.
But, above all, and as with any other communication strategy, the tone of voice seeks to connect with the customer. The idea of marketing whose sole objective was to sell the product was abandoned years ago. Today, the consumer is placed at the centre of any strategy and a fundamental part of this is to create a connection with him, a relationship that is not punctual and that is maintained over time thanks to reliability and trust, among other values.
The tone of voice is an essential part of that connection. As we said, the voice of the company is one, but the tone is different. It varies in that not all companies have a single target, a single channel or a single objective.
How the tone of voice is determined:
It is a conjunction of three variables: to whom the message is addressed, through which channel, and with what objective. For example, a brand of video games for children has two different targets: adults who will put their money in, and the little ones who must like the plot, the characters and the interface. The tone of voice that the company uses in messages aimed at adults cannot be the same as the one used to capture the attention of children. What are the former looking for? That it is playful, appropriate, even that the child learns something. On the other hand, the latter are only looking for fun and entertainment.
The purpose of the communication also determines the tone of voice to be used. A company may seek to sell, but also to apologise, delight, inform or divulge. Even if a brand tries to give an image of informality and proximity, the tone used to respond to a complaint will not be the same as the one used to answer a question through its social networks.
In the same vein, a newsletter is not written in the same tone as the speech of a worker at a point of sale, nor is the same tone used on LinkedIn as on Instagram.
The most important thing, however, is that the different tones of voice are integrated within the same voice, which is shaped by the logo, website, advertisements, slogans, etc. This does not mean that they cannot be differentiated according to the targets. In no case can using one tone of voice or another affect the image of reliability and credibility of the company.
Once the target channel and purpose have been combined, we will have obtained some of the following tones of voice:
- Humorous: Based on humour, this does not always mean using an informal register, but it does tend to occur accordingly.
- Argumentative: Convince, persuade, enter the mind and desires of the addressee.
- Empathetic: To go deep into the client's feelings, for which it is often useful to avoid humour and effusiveness.
- Helpful: Offering the company and its resources to the client.
- Testimonial: Use the real experiences of certain people to attract the customer, a tone used, for example, by NGOs or crowdfunding sites in their newsletters.
However, the informative or expository tone should not be forgotten either, which is always efficient if the channel, target and objective are in agreement. Although the above examples are quite specific, there are two main voices that can conceive these different tones: the corporative and the informal. The former is much more rigorous, formal, serious and pragmatic; the latter is more approachable, less severe and disciplined.
The most important thing to remember about tone of voice is that the success of the message depends directly on it, and on its accuracy. A good message in the wrong tone of voice, to the wrong person, eliminates any chance of success and connection for the company.