Written by Imke de Feber
Last week I visited an inspiring session about the marketing strategies of a major venue in The Netherlands. A big part of this session concerned their approach in reaching their core target audiences. The most inspiring part about this day for me, was the very structured way of developing this approach.
The biggest part of reaching your target audience, is the use of a tone of voice. Developing a tone of voice is less structured, than creating a target audience. This specific subject triggers me because I work with very diverse target groups. Collecting visuals, writing texts, creating a customer journey, determining an advertisement strategy: these are aspects of my daily work. My gut feeling plays a big role in these tasks. Yet I have the feeling that this approach plays an even bigger role in the development of a tone of voice.
Let me first answer the question: what is a tone of voice? A tone of voice is not what you say, but how you say it. It does not simply contain the words you choose; but their order, pattern and ‘flow’ as well. It represents your brand. It’s your way of expression that sets your brand apart from the rest. It builds on the crucial relationship between your brand, and target audience. A tone of voice delivers a feeling. That feeling plays a crucial role in the trust your audience has towards your brand. Because you use this ‘tone’ every time anyone speaks on behalf of your brand, consistency is key.
These tricks might help you out with establishing your own tone of voice:
- Start with defining the values of your brand, or project. In this process you have to be honest towards yourself. What truly defines your brand? Boil this definition down to a few key words. As I earlier noted: consistency is key. If you’re not honest about your values, you will never be able to be consistent with your tone of voice.
- Describe why you do what you do. It might state the obvious, but at Powered by TINC we also started out with ‘The Golden Circle’ (by Simon Sinek) to find the true meaning behind everything we do. Without, we would’ve never found our core goal: shaping a sustainable musical landscape.
- Your vocabulary is an important aspect of your tone of voice. How formal do you want your tone to be, how funny, how polite, straight forward, simple, intellectual, innocent, sarcastic, urban or high-end? In this process it’s important to stay true to your true natural values.
- For many words, you can find 2 other words that describe precisely the same. In our case, we had to define a list of words for ‘music industry’. By looking at our values we decided to use: ‘musical landscape’ and ‘cultural climate’, instead of the terms ‘sector’ and ‘industry’. By doing so, your brand carries out harmony. I would recommend to make a list of the most common phrases your brand uses on a day-to-day bases.
The most important note in developing your own tone of voice: make sure you make your tone of voice memorable, otherwise you will never be able to stick to it. Remember: consistency is key.