In our recent post What Is Tone Of Voice?, we considered some of the fundamental issues surrounding a company’s tone of voice.

First we looked at what a tone of voice is. Then we examined how it works.

Finally, we touched upon why tone of voice is important. In this post, we’re going to take a more detailed look at that question.

Your organisation’s tone of voice will be one of the key considerations faced by your marketing department. That’s because your tone of voice goes straight to the central questions of why your company exists, who it serves and what it hopes to achieve.

Without answering those questions – and answering them honestly, however difficult that may be – it is impossible to determine an accurate and appropriate tone of voice.

However, once you have set your tone of voice, you are likely to feel the benefit.

Your tone of voice can:

Increase your chances of being recommended

Tone of voice is not just a ‘soft’ marketing consideration. Studies have shown tone of voice has a measurable effect on its audience and how they view the company in question. It is a crucial factor in the impression your brand creates on others.

In both qualitative and quantitative testing run by the Nielsen Norman Group, they discovered three layers of findings.

First, that there are distinct qualities of tone (such as friendliness and formality).

Second, those qualities impact your audience’s impression of your brand personality.

And third, that those impressions have a clear effect on the likelihood of your business being recommended – or not.

Trustworthiness was the most important single variable in determining an audience’s willingness to recommend. And in some situations, friendliness actually undermined users’ perceptions of trustworthiness – so be wary when setting your tone of voice.

Think: is this appropriate to my industry? Is it over the top?

Build familiarity… and trust… and revenue

We’ve discussed elsewhere on this site the link made by Niklas Luhmann (1979) between familiarity and trust.

By using your defined tone of voice to ensure the same experience every time a customer sees your brand, you take a major step towards creating familiarity.

And according to Luhmann, trust cannot be built without familiarity first being established. But once trust is established, a prospect is a major step closer to being a client.

Show your credibility and professionalism

Having a well-defined tone of voice shows you are serious about your business and, more importantly, your clients.

First, you’ve taken time to go through the process of thinking about who your target audience is.

You’ve considered their needs and expectations, alongside your own company’s story and motivation.

Finally, you’ve searched for the way to communicate that best reassures your audience that you are the organisation that can meet their expectations and satisfy their needs.

By thinking about, determining and implementing tone of voice guidelines, you show a seriousness about your business and a respect for your audience. Few customers will ever consider or notice this – but they’d be quick to notice if you hadn’t, and your business communicated in a range of different tones.

Deliver prospects who are more likely to buy

With a strong, clear and consistent tone of voice, your audience will instinctively understand who you are trying to attract. They’ll also know immediately whether they are part of that group.

If your tone is formal, educated and corporate, don’t be surprised when 19-year-old skateboarders pass you by. On the flip side, if your tone is informal, modern and relaxed, you’ll attract another group altogether.

When a company has invested time and money to understand its target audience, and further time to reflect that in its communication choices, it starts to form a tribe. Who’s in yours?

“People clump together into common worldviews, and your job is to find a previously undiscovered clump and frame a story for those people.” – Seth Godin


Express the people and values behind your brand

An authentic tone of voice – and you should never use anything else – will reflect the personality, beliefs and values that underpin your business.

It will help, even if it is only subtly, to set you apart from the competition and secure your own unique space in the market.

And the personality traits reflected in your tone will gradually help to build perceptions of your products or services.

By using a consistent tone of voice in all your customer-facing communication, you will strength the attributes with which you want your brand to be associated.

Acknowledge and engage with your customer’s emotional needs

Finally, how are your customers feeling when they look for your service or product?

What circumstance has led them to your brand or, more particularly, a specific page on your website?

It is important to consider this and not be ‘deaf’ to the likely situation of a prospect or customer. The alternative, of using a tone so clumsy that it tramples over their current emotions, could cost you significant revenue.

There is no doubt that tone of voice has a measurable impact on your customers, your reputation, and your bottom line. Using a tone of voice that does not reflect your values, or is distinctly incongruous with your industry, is a strategy that tests suggests will fail.

For advice about tone of voice guidelines and workshops, please get in touch. We’d be delighted to help.

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