“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
What on earth is it
Are 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 written document that fully and accurately defines the personality of the brand or the product, and the messages that will influence its target audience.
After you have defined your brand’s voice and tone:
The personality of the brand will be consistent, credible, and compelling the whole way.
Every word you write will be deliberately chosen, focused, persuasive, and helpful for your users.
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.
When to do it
Following are the 7 critical stages where I recommend designing a voice and tone if you haven’t yet designed 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 or any digital product.
Starting a process of sharpening your brand’s differentiation, presenting to users of 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 (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.
How it's done
The full voice and tone design process includes four stages.
If you lack the time or budget, stages 2 and 3 are critical.
Stage 1: Read design and branding documents written so far to define vision, mission, values, and basic personality.
Stage 2: Listen to what the target audience says and extract good quotes, authentic phrases, words that repeat themselves, and what users see as motivators and setbacks.
Stage 3: Hold a group interview with the organization’s key personnel. In small businesses and blogs, this is probably you. By the end of the session, you should have a rich, detailed, and interesting portrayal of the brand’s personality.
Stage 4: Produce a written voice and tone design.
A full list of resources and methods you need for designing a voice and tone is provided in the first chapter of the book Microcopy: The Complete Guide.