Brand tone; what do your customers really hear?

9 September

Brand language is the language your brand uses.
It is spoken and printed word, both on and off web.
The words you choose matter but have you thought about your brand tone?

I help businesses to be more human on the web. Most businesses need some help with this. That’s because speaking seems to come more naturally to us than writing. We don’t usually talk about ‘speakers block’… unless we’ve been invited to give a stand up presentation! Seriously though, have you thought about how your business comes across on the web? What do your customers really hear?

What is your brand tone?

When we read content online, we literally hear a voice in our head! We interpret the message and imagine that we are having a conversation with the person. So, it’s important for you to decide what tone and language support your business brand. How can you communicate the story of what you do in a way that is meaningful and effective?

Most of us hugely underestimate how people interpret what we say! Message misalignment is very common on the web. Communicating face-to-face involves the use of non-verbal tools like: intonation, gestures, facial expressions, and body language. We interpret most of this on a subconscious level. That is why we rely so heavily on our choice of language and use of emoji (or text emotion symbols) to help us to convey emotions. Emotion helps us to make sense of the world.

This is the first of a four part article on social media Brand Voice. The four key elements are tone, language, personality and purpose. Let’s start with your business tone of voice. Once you know the tone you want to use, it is much easier to choose effective words.

Today I’m going to share examples of businesses who have different brand tones. It’s much easier to understand when you can see live examples.

Personal tone

A business that uses a personal tone is keen to understand their customer needs. When someone arrives on the website or blog, they immediately feel like they are understood. The business outlines and understands their ‘problems’ and presents them with clear actionable solutions. A surprising example I found is Keyhouse, who develop, build and support specialised software for law firms.

Keyhouse take a refreshing approach by using simple english to speak to their target audience. Law firms are notorious for their use of stuffy and incomprehensible phrases. (My research threw up an excellent post from the blog ‘A lawyer’s guide to writing’, titled ‘Avoid stuffy language and use real words instead’.) Well done Marie Buckley!

Keyhouse

This copy is highlights the personal tone that Keyhouse use to communicate their value –

“Before we tell you what a Keyhouse solution can do for your practice, we like to learn about your business. Tell us what you do best, how you do it and where you are feeling pain. Then we can take you through how our specialised software can transform your firm, making it more organised, efficient and profitable.”

Understanding and supportive tone

A business whose brand values are about caring and supporting people are very conscious of community. The language is inclusive and caring. A great example of this type of business is the Alzheimer Society of Ireland. Alzheimer.ie is a dimentia specific service provider in Ireland. Their brand tone supports their brand vision which is quoted below;

“Our vision is an Ireland where no one goes through dementia alone and where policies and services respond appropriately to the person with dementia and their carers, at the times they need support.”

Alzheimer.ie

Honest and direct tone

Honest and direct is not always about being a people pleaser! The Middle Finger Project is a niche business with a very specific audience. Ashley Ambirge provides “frank advice on surviving as a business owner, for people with a f*cking sense of humour”. Like the most successful companies, it actively repels certain customers. Ashley Ambirge doesn’t have an edit button – she is certainly not afraid to be herself. I’m not necessarily a fan of her business but I do admire her bold, direct approach.

Here Ashley tells us why she chose the name ‘The Middle Finger Project’ –
“Because we’re in the business of shunning cliché, overused language, business practices and lifestyle choices, in favour of originality, happiness and doing what feels right for you”

The Middle Finger Project

Tone is so crucial in the online world – what tone suits your business brand? I hope these examples help you to be more conscious when you are creating both verbal and written communication. My next post will inspire you to choose your words wisely too!

Think about your favourite brands and see if you can describe their tone – I bet that  you have already subconsciously done it! Feel free to share your revelations below or over on Facebook.

Referenced links to explore:
Keyhouse
The Alzheimer Society of Ireland
The Middle Finger Project
A lawyer’s guide to writing’

Related post – Why blogging is not about finding your voice