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What is tone of voice in marketing and why is it important?

Tone of voice describes how you communicate with your customers, and it has a specific role in marketing. Here’s what you need to know.

As a person, you probably have several tones of voice you use regularly.

There’s the parental tone of voice (“No, you can’t have cake for breakfast”); your professional tone of voice (“This report needs to be ready for the Board on Monday”); even your laidback voice used in social settings (“Yeah, no trouble at all”).

Yet in marketing terms, tone of voice is something that should be singular, strong, on-brand, and consistent across all marketing activity.

But what exactly is tone of voice? Sit down, read this, and we’ll explain tone of voice in a way that will help you understand what it is and why it’s something you need to think about for your brand.

What is tone of voice?

Tone of voice describes the manner in which you communicate with your customers and leads. It’s the language you use in your printed communications; the way in which you respond to customers on social media; the voice you use in TV and radio advertising.

The tone of voice used by some brands are well-known and easily recognisable – think the distinctively Aussie ‘Kimmy’s Dad’ who spruiks Crimsafe security screens on the radio waves.

Other strong tones of voice aren’t connected to characters. You can see them in the strong yet sympathetic voices of personal injury lawyers, the fun and excited tone of voice in fast food commercials, or the friendly and familiar language in the marketing material of retirement living villages.

Tone of voice is the personality a business creates to communicate with its target audience, and if executed well, should build brand recognition and foster a connection with the audience.

Tone of voice includes language used, sentence structure, the delivery of the words. It takes into account gender, cultural aspects, and the pace at which the language is delivered.

Tone of voice is applied everywhere your brand speaks, including advertising, newsletters, social media posts, customer care responses, and internal communications like company announcements.

How does tone of voice apply in a marketing context?

Tone of voice has a particular and specific role in marketing.

Your marketing plan will include things like marketing goals, marketing strategies and messaging. Tone of voice is how you communicate these marketing elements to your customers.

Think of it as one human communicating to another. When you want someone to do something, how do you ask them to do it?

Your tone of voice will depend on the audience, how you want them to perceive you, and what language will best achieve the outcome.

Why does having a tone of voice matter?

Tone of voice has an enormous capacity to make your brand consistent and recognisable. Every piece of marketing should build on the last, and this is only possible if the audience recognises the marketing as coming from the one place.

This is particularly important in the digital space, which is so crowded, it’s easy for brands with weak tone of voice to become lost. In fact, the 2023 Sprout Social Index shows consumers want to see posts with a well-crafted voice, and respond the best to tones of voice that are less of a whisper and more of roar.

Ideally, a tone of voice should allow a brand to be identified by content alone, well before a customer has seen who posted it.

How does having a tone of voice help your brand attract customers?

A strong and specific tone of voice will help you stand out from the competition, build your brand, and achieve the same effect as face-to-face communication.

Look at specific industries and you’ll soon discover that many of them have a standard tone of voice. Companies see the tone of voice used by industry leaders and falsely believe that emulating it will elevate them to the same level.

Changing the tone voice or making it more individual, though, can make you stand out from the crowd, and make your brand more memorable.

A distinctive tone of voice can add depth and memorability to your brand.

Language learning app Duolingo is a great example. The app’s branding includes a green owl, which in itself is recognisable and strong – but the marketers took it one step further, giving the owl a personality. The green owl, Duo, is often seen engaging in office mischief, while pining over his crush, and obsessing over TikTok trends. Duolingo now has more than 21 million daily active users, representing a yearly increase of more than 62 per cent.

The most effective result of having a strong tone of voice is that it fosters a relationship and builds trust with customers. Customers interact with your brand in the same way it would with a friend or trusted person.

Increasingly, people want to interact with brands online, rather than call customer service, and they are more inclined to do so if the tone of voice is strong.

Speak to the marketing experts

When it comes to creating and using a distinct tone of voice, it requires intention, a clear marketing strategy, and following brand guidelines.

Assemblo is a full-service marketing agency based in Melbourne, experts in all areas of marketing and skilled at developing individual tones of voice for businesses.

To find out how we can help your business, give us a call on (03) 9079 2555 or send us a note via the contact form below.

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