Content is one of the most vital parts of SEO, and it is your lifeline to your audience. With content, you can tell your brand's story, get in front of your audience using keywords, and build relationships with customers or clients. However, content is not the end-all-be-all of connecting with your audience. If you want to be truly authentic, you need to write in a way that resonates with your audience.
You can achieve this by adjusting your writing voice. A brand's voice is the channel for your message. It is how your words come across, and it affects how authentic you seem to your audience. When you speak, your words have pitch and inflections, which tell your conversation partner how you feel. So, you might say, "I'm fine," but if your pitch and inflections don't read 'happy,' your friend might ask you if you're okay.
A similar thing happens when we read text. Word choice, brand personality, punctuation, and font style or size can convey emotions or attitudes. This evokes feelings in readers; if you understand your audience, you can write in a tone that they find relatable. If one of these elements is off—if word choice doesn't match your brand personality, for example—people might find your copy inauthentic.
Why Does Tone Matter in Branding?
Your tone of voice shapes your message, which affects how people see your brand. Here are a few reasons why your copy needs to have a consistent tone.
1. Consistency Keeps Your Brand Fresh
Developing a unique style of writing and sticking to it is a vital part of establishing your brand. Even if you're a buttoned-up company, you need to let a little personality shine through. Don't write dry, stiff prose; it is possible to keep your tone serious but still show your business' humanity. When you nail your tone, keep writing in it; doing this helps people stay interested in what you have to say. When your writing style is consistent and aligns with your brand personality, people will find it easy to read.
2. Consistency Establishes Your Brand
Tone matters in branding because it can help you establish consistency. The most successful brands are those whose logo, catchphrase, and copy are memorable, and you can tell that a brand's messaging is successful if people can recognize their copy without the logo or the slogan. When you're consistent with your copy's tone, you develop a style that people associate with you. This keeps you top of mind and makes it likely for people to choose you.
3. Consistency Enables Connections
Your copywriting has one goal—get people to respond to your call to action. You can achieve this if your content has the right tone. No matter how rational people think they are, research shows that emotions and unconscious urges drive 95 percent of purchase-related decisions. If you get your tone right, you can elicit the emotions you want from readers. Brands that make emotional connections with their customers come across as more authentic, and therefore, more trustworthy.
How Do You Get Your Tone Right?
Tone of voice is not one thing; it is a combination of aspects of writing. Nailing your content's tone is challenging, but it is possible if you keep these four things in mind.
1. Establish Your Tone Profile
Brands fall under one of four general tone profiles. These profiles consist of pairs of traits—formal versus casual, respectful versus irreverent, funny versus serious, and enthusiastic versus matter-of-fact. Brand tones exist on a spectrum; your brand's tone could be formal but enthusiastic, casual but respectful, or another combination. If you aren't sure what your brand's tone profile is, review your past blogs or social media posts.
2. Create Guidelines for Your Tone
Effectiveness stems from consistency. Stay with your plans by having a style guide for your brand—large media outlets like the New York Times and the BBC have company-specific guides. You do not need to write an entire book for your business, but it's good to note things like your preferred syntax and vocabulary. Details like how you use punctuations, whether or not you use emojis in social media, and how you format your tweets also matter.
3. Ask Customers How They See the Brand
If you find it challenging to identify your brand voice, ask your customers about it; they are the people who encounter it the most. Reach out to repeat customers or brand loyalists and give them open-ended ways to describe your brand. You can also ask them to choose from a list of adjectives that they might relate to your business.
4. Check Your Competitors' Tone
While you wouldn't want to copy what your competitors are doing, you can still check out what they're doing and make notes. Your competitors might have a different tone profile, but you can learn how they handle sentence structure, humor, metaphors, and choice of words. Are they successful with punchy sentences or poetic ones? Do they use puns or dry humor? How your competitors respond to social media comments on their posts would also tell you about their brand.
Tone of voice tells people a lot about your company. When you are consistent with your tone, you establish your brand personality more firmly in readers' minds. When your words resonate with your readers, they'll be more likely to respond to your CTAs, boosting engagement and increasing your chances for revenue.
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