Throughout October on the Webs blog, we’re talking about branding for your small business. Last week, our infographic offered advice on finding your Unique Selling Proposition. Today, we’re talking about Tone of Voice.

Whether you’re creating a new company from scratch (congratulations!), or you’re re-branding your current one, perhaps the best place to start if your tone of voice.

Primarily, this means the tone and attitude your writing takes on our website, blog and collateral materials. Your tone of voice is also expressed in the visual representations of your company, so make sure they go hand in hand.

Is your website copy sophisticated and refined? Your web design and logo should be elegant in the same way. Are your marketing materials bold and funky? Your blog content should probably be written with a casual, confident tone.

So, how do you go about finding your tone of voice?

If your business has a mission statement, that’s a great place to start. Look at the way that you or the stakeholders in your company first described its purpose and trajectory.

Next, make a list of the brands you admire. What do you like about them? What do you perceive their tone to be? Is there anything that their written copy or visual branding that you don’t like? A good competitive analysis can be incredibly valuable in determining your own direction.

Finally, if your business Is already somewhat established, this is a good time to do some research. Find out why your customers chose you in the first place. How to they perceive your branding? What values in them have you did your business first appeal to? This will not only let you know the personality you’re projecting, it will also help you to be sure not to change your tone in such a way that you alienate your client base.

Don’t have a client base to survey? Find out if you know anyone who follows the brands you’d like to emulate, and see what they find appealing about their tone and branding.

Once you have a good idea of your tone, it’s a good idea to write down some ground rules. It will work to your benefit, and also — as your company grows — help maintain consistency in all your communications.

Smashing Magazine suggests you answer the following questions for yourself:

– Should we use jargon?
– Can we use humor?
– How informal can we be?
– What punctuation should we use?
– Who are we engaging with?

Been through this process already? We’d love to know how you found your tone of voice.

More from this branding series:
Finding Your Company’s Unique Selling Proposition [Infographic]
Color, Character, Communication: How to Reinforce Your Brand Online
How To Protect Your Brand With a Trademark

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