“Can’t hear anything! Repeat one more time! Hello!” – subscribers shout to brands, trying to understand their intricate texts. Now dry, now watery, now in the subject, now again out of place … How can a brand find its “voice”, adjust it to its audience and remain heard?
In this article we:
- understand what a tone-of-voice (TOV) is and what its description gives us in a Digital Strategy;
- we will discuss what is included in the TOV and what values are included there;
- get to know the characters of the brand;
- find out what will help you better analyze your target audience when developing tone-of-voice;
- let’s look at the algorithm for creating a brand voice;
- Let’s take a look at popular and insidious mistakes when implementing “voice”.
Hue and key – how to distinguish?
I have come across many variants of tone-of-voice interpretation. Some call it “the tone of communication”, others tend to the “brand voice” option, others come up with their own decoding, for example, “brand sound”.
Note that the concepts of “brand voice” and “tonality” are not the same, there is a significant difference between them.
Brand voice is a unique style of communication with the audience, which unites the communication of the company with the audience in all channels: in social networks, newsletters, mail, communication of employees with customers on behalf of the brand.
Broader concept . Here we are talking about communication strategy in general. TOV takes into account many nuances, ranging from the style of texts in social networks and ending with such questions: should the discussion be raised on a sensitive topic or ignored? Do you collaborate with specific influencers? Should you attend a noisy event or stay in the shadows?
Remember the image of a corporate hero – a cat in Monobank. To some, the use of such a character in the context of the banking sector will seem frivolous, but the audience of Monobank is youth, progressive, such an image suits her perfectly. It helps people deal more easily with all those banking “things” and boring transactions.
A vivid example of a vector of communication through a corporate hero.
If voice is the manner of communicating with your target audience, tone is its application in specific situations.
Also, these are all those phrases, expressions, emoticons, appeals and other details that help to pack the message into the desired emotional sound.
The message is the same – TOV is different
Each brand dreams of developing its own unique style by which it will be recognized. We recognize many writers and bloggers precisely by their corporate style.
Let’s compare the texts of two Kiev residential complexes, which were promoted by SMM-agency Kiwi Agency .
LCD Crystal Park Tower is an elite business class housing from “Kovalskaya”, being built near Pushkin Park and KPI. Positions itself as a place of power for the always busy and tired residents of the metropolis.
Considering the premium nature of the complex and its audience with a high level of income, we have chosen a calm, unobtrusive tone without boring officialdom. Insights, concrete fact with catchy emotion – this is what our texts were based on.
RC “Noviy Autograph” – a comfort-class complex from the developer DIM Group. It is positioned as a “new color of the Lion Coast”. Target audience – young people, families who are looking for comfortable housing in terms of price / quality ratio. They lead an active lifestyle, like to relax with friends and dream of living closer to nature, but with city amenities.
We decided that the manner of communication should be close to our potential buyers. Therefore, the lyrics sounded easy, friendly, with appropriate humor and slang. I felt that a friend wrote to you, who together with you chooses an apartment and enthusiastically talks about the advantages of a house.
Let’s take two more SMM cases from Kiwi Agency and compare what tone we chose for the premium A136 Highlight Tower residential complex and the Green cottage town Hills :
An interesting point. Real estate can belong to the same segment, for example, business class, but at the same time have a different TOV. Why is this happening? Again, the choice of tone of voice depends on the needs of the target audience and the brand image.
Content from Green Hills is aimed primarily at the proactive wives of wealthy entrepreneurs. They have children, their favorite business, they dream of a private family home to enjoy their country life. Also, the town will be of interest to media personalities / politicians for whom privacy is very important.
Dialogue Green Hills with the audience is perceived as a friendly conversation, a friendly message without breaking the text into specific points. There is a pronounced warm emotion, notes of fun, family. There is no pathos and dry listing of the benefits.
Publications from A136 Highlight Tower are designed more for the golden youth of the capital, careerists, civil servants, owners of large companies – people who need a comfortable apartment that matches their status and busy schedule.
A136 Highlight Tower communicates with subscribers with more low-key emotion. The brand wants to emphasize its expertise, innovation, manufacturability, building a clear post structure with a list of advantages. There are often ambitious calls to action at the end.
As you can see, depending on the characteristics of the target audience and the chosen tone of voice, the same brand message can sound completely different.
Why should a brand have a “voice” and what is it based on?
Why do you need a tone of voice at all:
- to express the mission and essence of the brand;
- declare your authenticity;
- create a more human image;
- gain the trust of your audience.
Why can’t you just share information? Some of everything that you are trying to convey to people may pass by. But the feeling they experienced contacting the brand will resonate in their hearts. It depends on these feelings whether a person wants to continue to have something in common with the brand.
What is TOV based on?
“Voice” consists of:
- the values of both the brand and its audience – people want to know what drives you, not just what you sell;
- unique selling proposition (USP) – what can you offer that others do not have;
- key messages – what is important to convey to the audience.
Why is the “voice” so detailed in brand strategies?
Having studied the information with whom the brand will have to talk, its worldview, tasks, ideological role (for example, to build knowledge about the product, inform about the assortment, talk about industry trends, build long-term relationships with the target audience), you can start developing a tone- of-voice.
And when you have everything laid out on the shelves, it will become easier to work. A systematic approach will appear, not chaos.
So, we register the voice:
1. To make it easier to find a common language with the target audience.
How to communicate with the target audience, how to hook them, convince them? How to reach them?
2. To test and filter ideas.
Will this idea work for the text? Is such an appeal to a subscriber really suitable for us?
3. So that the whole team knows, understands the TOV of their brand and knows how to communicate in it.
Applies to everyone – projects, moderators, HR, etc. This is the only way to maintain a holistic brand perception. By formulating specific rules for yourself, it will be easier for you to navigate in your sound and filter different ideas.
By the way, the well-written instructions “voices” always give an example of how to respond to clients – to messages on social networks, by phone, etc. This is a real cheat sheet for the moderator, which will help you not to accumulate at a crucial moment.
They are also called characters or brand images. If a certain archetype is clearly traced in a personal or corporate brand, we can safely say that the development of the tone of voice was approached very professionally.
- help you differentiate yourself from the competition;
- create an instant emotional impression in a person;
- guide brand positioning.
Personification is trending now, humanity, not automation.
There are usually 12 classic archetypes compiled by Carl Jung, a psychologist from Switzerland.
Let’s look at some examples.
The most popular “voice” option. There are many subtypes: it can be a “bosom childhood friend” or “druzhban” who can play a good trick on you, etc. Always on the same wavelength with subscribers, knows their desires, tastes, open, honest, “rummaging” .
The texts are written in a vital way, in an easy manner, without pathos and formalities. The archetype can be used in almost any field – from FMCG to medicine.
Kiwi Agency case: the alcohol brand ADJARI is a sincere friend who will always keep the conversation going, cheer up and find a reason to drink something warming 🙂
Character motto: “If you can imagine it, you can do it” .
Another of Kiwi Agency’s projects is the DISTIL No9 brand – the first premium Ukrainian vodka made using Small Batch technology.
It was important for the brand to convey the uniqueness of its product, to express itself through creativity, to show its skills and the final result, which will be proud not only in Ukraine, but also in the world.
We wrapped all these aspirations in an energetic, laconic, sometimes a little assertive tonality.
This guy is always on sarcasm with a pinch of insolence. Witty, trendy, not trivial. Loves situational marketing, hype, is not afraid to get into hot topics.
As an example of this archetype, I took the contraceptive brand Vizit , which perfectly plays on such a delicate topic. The tonality in his texts is appropriately provocative, laconic, with a share of subtle witty humor for those who are in the subject. Love that the brand sticks to the TOV when responding to subscriber comments. Play along with them 🙂
Creating fun content is the main task of this archetype. It is through interactive posts, non-standard play-offs of news feeds (always on the topic of their product), life jokes that users remember the brands that have chosen the image of an entertainer.
Caring for your customers is the essence of this archetype. Typically, this image is chosen by companies that produce products for health and home.
Below are the posts of one of the current Kiwi Agency projects – SOFFIONE . These are paper products (towels, toilet paper) from the Kiev Cardboard and Paper Mill.
The tonality of the caring brand was chosen appropriately: light, friendly, attentive to the needs of its customers, with appropriate humor and delicacy.
Spying in the fields: how to analyze your target audience to choose a strong voice
I’ll tell you with an example. Once, with the team of the Kiwi Agency SMM agency, we were preparing a strategy for a brand from the FMCG sphere, which wanted to present a new product on the market, tell about its mission and form a whole crowd of food fans on its page.
This was the B2B segment, so it was necessary to carefully study the target audience of the brand (product buyers, chefs, restaurant owners).
Observation helped me to learn more about the target audience. We have compiled a list of about 50 potential audience of the brand and analyzed each page “from and to”.
What have we seen?
- how many years, where they live, work, in which institutions;
- posts, reposts, which topics cause heated discussions in the comments among like-minded people, colleagues in the market;
- what vocabulary is used;
- what they joke about and in what style;
- in what places they rest and how they prefer to do it;
- who are liked, who are read from bloggers, what news they are watching.
So, before you know your target audience:
1. Do your research
… How does your audience communicate in their profiles, thematic communities, groups (what words are used, do they have professional jargon, slang, etc.).
… How competitors communicate with target audience: what goes badly, and what goes with a bang.
… In what information field do potential customers live: news, brands, bloggers. What events are they interested in, what they listen to, read, watch.
Life hack: pay attention to those people who write the word “price” in the comments. They are definitely interested and want to buy the brand’s product / service.
- Find an approach to target audience through TOV, understand their pains and submit an offer in the most attractive way.
- Get new ideas, insights, and post themes.
2. Take notes
Write out interesting words and phrases for yourself and adapt to the voice of your brand. Why: replenish the brand vocabulary and your vocabulary so that the texts are closer to people.
Do not get fooled by the phrases from the briefs “our target audience is women / men from 25 to 90 years old”, specify it.
To better understand those who you need, the following questions will help:
- Residence, gender, age, marital status.
- Affiliation of the target audience according to the “theory of generations”. If millennials, for example, tend to consume more content, then the Z-generation is to create it. Consider the differences and differences between different age groups.
- Priorities, life guidelines (career or work?).
- Where they work, study (we select the vector of communication, feel the pain).
- The level of income and how they plan to spend (will they take an installment plan for an expensive bag or will they save money?).
- Interests (what is better for them to offer – a vacation away from the bustle of the city or a noisy party in the center of events?).
- Temperament (they like to be indignant or do not pay attention to minor flaws in the brand).
Why is this all : compose at least 3 detailed portraits in order to most accurately build a dialogue with the desired audience. Learn her patterns of behavior and motives in order to find strong arguments and influence people’s decisions in favor of the brand.
Brief instructions on what should be in the description of BRAND VOICE:
- Who is our brand and how it is useful to people – its mission, philosophy, messages, difference from others.
- Archetype and subarchetypes (brand image).
- Sentiment – vocabulary (terms, brand words by which we should be recognized).
- Grammar (phrases, sentence construction, etc.).
- General writing tips (text structure, number of smilies).
- What we don’t say (taboo topics, forbidden phrases, who we are not).
- Community management (how we respond to messages, respond to criticism, etc.)
I will show you part of the TOV description that we, together with #kiwiteam , prepared for the strategy of promoting a premium suburban complex.
Detailed, well-developed descriptions were used in the description. If you want your brand to be heard, describe its “voice” in as much detail as possible, avoiding dry phrases like “hospitable” and “professional”.
It is recommended to register the brand image as a real person. To do this, you can assemble a brand team and conduct a brainstorm, find out what traits are associated with a brand character, what is characteristic of him.
Insidious mistakes when working with TOV
1. Be like everyone else
Yes, it is clear that there are brands that offer the same product / service, target a similar target audience, and it is very difficult for them to find something super-unique to stand out noticeably. Nevertheless, everyone tries to find something that will distinguish him from others. But if a company has a chance to be brighter than others, build a strong recognizable image and fall in love with itself with cool texts, but it chooses an easier way, it is frustrating.
2. Sound different
Imagine a friendly brand on social networks, your own on the board, and once on its website, we see dry official texts with abstruse terminology or gloomy answers in Direct or a chatbot. Is it strange? Not that word. Such “hesitation” is very repulsive and embarrassing for customers, forcing them to end the conversation as soon as possible.
The entire brand team must know their company’s TOV and be able to communicate in it. If the “voice” sounds differently, a holistic and recognizable brand image is lost.
In our new SMM strategy for the brand WISH AQUA & SPA RESORT we suggested updating the file with response templates and adjusting them to the current tone of voice:
3. Dislike your target audience
We are all unique: everyone has their own views, perception of the world, living conditions. People from different worlds may not understand each other at all. Sometimes it seems to us that only our statements are absolutely true, everything else is false and incorrect.
Example. The nightmare is to find yourself on a site for moms, but you have to write “for these crazy”. Believe me, cool texts will definitely not come out of such an attitude towards their readers.
Try to understand / accept your audience, be open to new experiences. In the texts you need to switch to their language, imbued with their “pains”, desires, priorities, plunge into their reality.
This is when you write not for target readers, but for yourself – the way you like it. Such antics can have consequences for the brand: the texts will pass by the target audience and do not fulfill their goals and objectives.
- The voice of the brand is the way of communicating with the target audience.
- Sentiment – its application in specific cases.
- A brand needs TOV to express its philosophy, establish a connection with the target audience, filter out ideas, and instruct the team to communicate on behalf of the brand.
- Conduct a powerful research to get to know your target audience.
- Be consistent with the TOV instructions.
- Stick to TOV across all brand channels, but adapt tone.
- Selfish writing is the most insidious mistake of TOV.
In my opinion, the secret of perfect sounding lies in the cool study of the target audience. If you understand “your people”, love them, find out what is close to them, and give what they want to feel, your brand will definitely become native to them forever and ever ❤.
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