Does your tone of voice speak to your brand values?
08 June 2020
Setting the right tone for your brand
The annals of marketing history are just littered with well-intentioned campaigns and communications whose tone of voice missed the mark so badly, they led to brand backlash – even boycotts in extreme cases.
How is it that marketers – consumers themselves – can occasionally be tone-deaf?
It’s often caused by crossed purposes: sales objectives, corporate mandates, executive egos… all losing sight of the one thing that matters most: the audience - the people you want listening to your message (and hopefully reacting positively to it as well).
Authenticity is the touchstone here, but it doesn’t always answer the 'How?' and 'When?' questions that may arise at critical or unprecedented times. Like now.
Tone in the time of the coronavirus
The pandemic has challenged every well-meaning marketer navigating their brand through a global tragedy and economic disaster. For that matter, the pandemic has challenged every one of us setting out to craft any message – even an email. What is the proper tone?
We’ve seen and shared many heartfelt messages of concern for people’s safety, of pride and respect for the heroics of every person making an individual sacrifice. But where does a brand fit into this emotional dialogue?
The brands that are succeeding with their messages are those who remain genuine to the values they stand for. They know themselves completely. They know their audiences fully. And that knowledge sets the tone for their messaging: What to say, how to say it, and when to say it.
As an important brand attribute, tone of voice is not limited to crisis communications. It expresses your brand every day – from your ad campaigns to your social media posts, from your employee communications to your executive commentary.
And when your brand’s natural tone is not right for unanticipated circumstances, you need to be prepared to pivot, switch gears, change the volume – but always in a manner that’s true to your brand.
Easier said than done?
If you are not 100% confident in who your brand is, how can your audience hear the meaning of its message? And if you can’t naturally articulate your brand’s tone of voice, how can you expect to modulate it when you’re faced with an unexpected situation?
For 16 years, Living has been working with established and emerging brands in the financial, professional services and technology sectors, helping them set the right tone of voice for their marketing. Conducting in-depth discovery workshops with clients and employees alike, analysing competitor communications, and applying data from our proprietary research on brand and digital intelligence, we help brands find their voice – and themselves.
If you’d like to discuss how to express your brand with the right tone, please reach out to: Greg Hobden in London, Duncan Shaw in New York or Gigi Yung in Hong Kong and we’ll give you a call.
Kevin Windorf – Client Services Director, Living Group New York