Orange megaphone on orange background for tone of voice guidelines article

Tone of Voice Guidelines: 5 Tips for Digital Marketing

Tone of Voice Guidelines: Why Brand Voice is So Important for Digital Marketing

How a business’ content looks, sounds and reads will be dependent on how the business wants to be portrayed. As a digital marketer, you need to be able to reflect this, using your writing skills to reflect their tone of voice guidelines and their branding. Written content is a vital part of a brand’s formation, and its success: brands need to be recognisable in order to be remembered; if they can be remembered, then they can be a customer’s primary choice when considering what to buy. But in order to be recognisable, their messaging, and their branding, has to be consistent across every piece of content they produce.

When you can accurately reflect their tone of voice and their language, you can create amazing content that will promote the brand in exactly the way it needs.

man typing on macbook for tone of voice guidelines article
Glenn Carstens-Peters on Unsplash

Tone of Voice Guidelines: Tips to Perfect Your Brand Voice

1. Know Your Audience

The tone of voice you use when writing is really dependent on who you’re writing this content for. Who are you marketing to, and what language are they expecting to see?

For this, it always helps to put yourself in your audience’s shoes. For example, you might be writing a leaflet about a pharmaceutical conference. Your audience are going to be adults who are used to technical, industry-specific language. At the same time, they want clear and direct information. Your leaflet would therefore need to have an informative tone, using relevant terminology at the right time, and clear instructions.

On the other hand, you might be writing the description of a board game aimed at 5-10 year olds. These kids are not going to need medicinal terminology. The content is going to be a lot more fun—a bright, happy tone with very, very simple language. Instead of clear directions (which will be found in the instructional manual), your language will be emotive: positive descriptive words, exclamation points, even onomatopoeia. 

Though these are at the opposite ends of the spectrum, they showcase how central your audience is to everything you write.

2. Adjust for Platform

Your tone of voice might change according to where your writing is going. For example: social media platforms put different expectations on the users, but brand voice can still be retained throughout each.

TikTok is video-based, and, like Twitter, it restricts the amount of characters you can use in each post. Compare this against LinkedIn, where the tone is a lot more professional. Both LinkedIn and Facebook are not so restrictive when it comes to character count, so you can flex your writing skills there. Usually, your posts on Twitter become jumping points for links. Alternatively, long posts that incorporate stories, observations and information, are more likely to succeed on LinkedIn.

These restrictions mean you have to get creative with what you’re going to say, and how you’re going to say it. How concise—or detailed—do you want to be? Are you responding to what the users want from you on that platform?

3. Are There Tone of Voice Guidelines in Place?

Depending on the business you’re writing content for, they may already have a process put in place for their brand messaging for you to access. Style guides and brand guidelines are a huge help when it comes to checking your tone of voice.

Quite often, the business will provide terminology and tone guidelines with examples already. Having examples of the language you can use means you always have something to go back to if you need a refresher.

If this does exist for you—then don’t forget it. A refresher is always helpful, no matter how confident you are at writing.

4. Do Your Research

If you don’t have a helpful guide—and even if you do—research is still, and will always be, your friend. That means, take a look at what’s already existing. How does the brand conduct itself in the mediums you’re writing in: what language do they use, what tone does it have—is it simple? Informative? Technical? Professional? Inclusive?

If it helps, make notes on particular types of words that you want to use in your own writing. If they have particular brand messaging, phrases that keep cropping up all over the place, it might benefit your work to include it too. Your aim is to reflect the brand voice in every way you can, so you can keep the branding consistent everywhere they are.

5. It’s Not Just Words

Brands aren’t just words. They’re made up from many different aspects, but one of the most telling clues you can get into a brand is how they <em>look</em>. In a blog post, a featured image for a website page, even the logo itself, you can get an insight into how the brand presents itself. Colours, shapes, names and fonts all contribute to a particular ‘feel’ that consumers will notice, even if they don’t realise they’re doing it.

Let’s go back to the pharmaceutical leaflet vs the kids’ board game. They’re going to have very different feels to them: the kids’ board game will be colourful, with fun, rounded fonts, and images of happy kids celebrating. On the other hand, the leaflet will have a professional look: sticking to the brand’s colours, distinct and clean fonts—and the images, if of people, will be set in relevant professional environments. 

All of these can give you clues into how a brand wants to be seen, and this can inform your content even further.

glasses, keyboard writing pads and two pens on white desk for tone of voice guidelines article
Jess Bailey on Unsplash

Tone of Voice Guidelines: Conclusion

The tone of voice you use in your content for a business needs to adhere to the brand messaging they use. Depending on what the business is, this can vary wildly, so you need to be on top on how your words work: how they look, how they sound, and what their purpose is. But you can get plenty of clues from what already exists from the company, so you can reflect exactly what makes the brand memorable—and therefore successful.

You can find out more UK apprenticeships across every industry by clicking here.