“The most fascinating part was receiving the end result of the voice and tone design:
it set me straight and helped me organize things in the best way possible before rebuilding the website.”
Revital Slonim, Brand manager
Is your brand’s voice and tone funny or serious, stiff or soft, approachable or stand-offish, stirring or appropriate?
Voice and tone design is a short process whereby the personality of the brand and the messages that will influence its target market are fully and accurately defined. By the end of the process you’ll have answers to two questions:
- What to write about – what will be your main messages? What is important that your target market hear?
- How to say it – if your brand was a person, how would it talk?
After you have defined your brand’s voice and tone:
- Every word you write will be deliberately chosen, focused and persuasive.
- Your target audience will easily understand the value of your offering and the need it fulfills.
- The call for action will be simple and more effective.
- The personality of the brand will be consistent, credible and compelling the whole way.
Following are the 7 critical stages where I recommend creating a voice and tone design, if you haven’t yet created it:
- Creating a new brand – as an integral part of the branding process, together with the visual branding.
- Release of a new or upgraded website or app.
- Starting a process of sharpening your brand’s differentiation, presenting to users the brand’s benefits and messages that distinguish it from the competition.
- Setting up a new digital campaign.
- Creation or upgrading of the organization’s written communication infrastructure (email, chat, and social media).
- Before entering a new market with a new target audience.
- The minute you understand that the words and messages you currently use simply don’t work.
The full voice and tone design process includes four stages, and at every stage you’ll discover important insights.
If you lack the time or budget, stages 2 and 3 are critical.
- Stage 1: Read design and branding documents written so far, and extract essential information about the brand.
- Stage 2: Listen to what the target audience saysand extract good quotes, authentic phrases, words that repeat themselves, and what users see as motivators and setbacks.
- Stage 3: Hold a structured group interview with the organization’s key personnelAsk them about the brand and target audience. This interview usually lasts about 3 hours, and by the end of the meeting you should have a rich, detailed and interesting portrayal of the brand’s personality.
- Stage 4: Produce the voice and tone design.This is basically a working document that brings together and organizes all the information you came by in the previous steps, and is used to guide the actual writing.
A full list of the resources you need to overview and the questions you need to ask, are provided in the book If Interfaces Could Talk.