Making the right impression can have a significant impact on the success of a business. Sure, having a great product or service is one thing, but ultimately what is the benefit if you are not able to engage effectively with potential customers and clients to showcase it?
For a great number of companies, this is where a strong online presence can make a huge difference. Getting the right website and social media accounts in place can have significant benefits, putting smaller firms on a level playing field as they look to compete with their larger rivals. But the way you do it is just as important as actually doing it.
While creating an online presence can be straightforward for firms, using it in the right way is not always so easy. Developing the right tone of voice can help you communicate effectively, properly reflect your brand and offer consistency in terms of how customers see you. The flipside is that the wrong tone can create confusion and potentially put clients off from engaging with you at all.
Fortunately, if you are seeking inspiration for your brand's tone, there are plenty of great examples out there where companies have got it absolutely right. For example, British company Innocent Drinks has become famous for its irreverent and light-hearted tone of voice which is in full display on its Twitter account and creates a positive message around the firm's smoothies and other products. In fact, the brand arguably showcased, with its marketing strategy, the way many other brands talk to the consumer. Buzz Bingo also has a similar upbeat tone on Twitter, with its messages focusing on a community vibe and its use of GIFs related to everything from Doctor Who to sloths. At the other end of the spectrum, we find global banking brands like HSBC, which takes a more professional approach on its lead Twitter account by speaking with authority and gravitas about economic and financial issues. Of course, this example works too - HSBC's tone is informed by the qualities HSBC wants associated with their brand, as is Innocent's and Buzz Bingo's.
"HSBC" (CC BY-ND 2.0) by gyverchangphotos
But how can you ultimately figure out the right tone of voice for your brand? Well, a couple of studies have certainly provided some hints and tips which could get businesses off to a good start.
Software Advice’s customer research examined the issue of written tone in email, but it makes interesting points that could be transferred to the realm of websites and social media. For example, it found that 65 percent of customers do indeed prefer a casual tone from organizations they interact with, even to the point where they are happy to see emoticons and informal language used. However, the study added that context is vital, as 78 percent would not like to see a serious issue handled in such a manner. Similar points were raised in an in-depth study by the Nielsen Norman Group in 2016, which also revealed that being too friendly in the wrong situation can undermine the public's trust in a firm and in its professionalism. However, it also found that so-called "dry" industries like finance could benefit from being more conversational at times.
All in all, such findings highlight how developing a tone of voice is a very delicate issue and needs to be handled carefully. Think about what your brand wants to convey and how that can be translated into your brand's tone of voice and attitude. If you're unsure, consult a professional writer or linguist. Striking the right balance could offer significant benefits and go a long way towards making you a big hit with customers.