Digital marketing 101: Developing your brand’s online tone of voice
Nike, IKEA, Apple — think of your favourite brands and how they communicate with you digitally. Chances are you associate them with a specific style, personality and words (or, wordplay). This is a brand’s online tone of voice and developing a familiar one is essential for organizations of all sizes, across all industries.
A brand’s online tone of voice should be executed consistently across digital communications, whether it be website content, social media and blog posts, newsletters, case studies, video scripts and more. It is an opportunity to humanize your company, form an emotional connection and trust with existing and new clients, prime them to make desired decisions and keep them coming back. One study shows 56 percent of customers will stay loyal to a brand they feel “gets them”, while research by Cohn & Wolfe indicates 91 percent will recommend or buy from a brand they perceive to be authentic.
Take electric toothbrush subscription start-up quip, which targets young consumers who appreciate innovation and good design. On its homepage, the headlines are simple and clever like “Designed with every mouth in mind” and “Love at first brush”, while its Facebook includes copy like “Our new retail packaging was designed with high-quality paper and curves that fit into the palm of your hand for a premium feel.” Founded in 2012, it already has over 1 million subscribers and is using strong branding to disrupt the market by making its pedestrian product (toothbrushes) appear design-focused and desirable.
Remember, when it comes to online writing, it’s always better to reinforce your brand than to be bland. Not sure how to develop your company or practice’s tone of voice? The experts at Nathalia Porras Digital Marketing have put together these handy tips so your brand can not only walk the walk, but talk the talk.
1. Find out who are you talking to
Step one is identifying who your target audience is. An easy way to do that is by looking at who your current customers are — research shows 65 percent of your business will come from them. Either through client files, a survey or personal observation, gather key data like their age, gender, areas they live in, interests and hobbies, language, income and use this to develop an ideal persona that you speak to consistently.
Once you have this ideal customer persona or avatar, you can tailor content you create based on its presumed behaviour, values and perceptions to increase the likelihood of positive reactions. For instance, if you are dental practice in Montreal, you may find you are speaking mostly to 53-year-old francophone women with a median income of $96,000 a year who enjoy going to Florida in the winter.
2. Become fluent in your brand’s way of speaking
Once you know who your ideal customer persona is, you can choose your words wisely. This involves developing a style and personality for your business, and this should also be informed by your brand values. Start by creating two lists of adjectives: one describing ‘who you are’ and the other ‘who you are not’.
Consult with your organizational leadership and employees to ensure your voice also aligns with your overall values. From there, you can develop a persona for your company informing how it speaks to customers digitally so that it consistently feels and sounds like it’s coming from the same person — shaping everything from the words and cultural references used to the tone to repurposed third-party content chosen. Using the Montreal dentistry practice example again, chances are this business will want to sound professional, authoritative and knowledgeable (think: avoiding casual online language like “LOL”), while still being compassionate and empathetic.
While life is always easier if you have a professional copywriter on staff, many small businesses can handle their own digital communications. Pro tip: only say what you need to say and reread everything multiple times to avoid errors.
3. Change your voice, change brand perceptions
Want to shift the way people perceive your brand online? It doesn’t have to be as painful as pulling teeth! Simply create a positioning map and make sure your brand’s voice is aligned with the new perception that you want your target audience to associate you with.
Not sure how to create a position map for your business? Contact Nathalia Porras Digital Marketing and we’d be happy to help!
4. Research and evaluate
As with any good digital marketing plan, the key is to test, test, test! The cycle of execution followed by evaluation is as essential as daily flossing. After you have developed a persona for your target audience as well as your brand, test out your online tone of voice by doing a couple weeks of social media posts using it.
Review those social media posts and see which performed best. Can you spot a pattern among those that resonated with your target audience? If so, use that to develop best practices, whether it be post length, humour, content style or even emoji use. Going back to the dental practice example, you may find posts with a play on words like, “Here are five facts about dental implants to sink your teeth into” perform better than more bland options like, “Five facts about dental implants”.
5. Create a style guide
Once you know who you are speaking to, have established your brand’s personality and figured out what’s working, collect it all into a style guide. This should map out and describe all of the above so if you need to go on holiday or leave the organization, someone else can continue connecting with audiences using the digital tone of voice you created. Ultimately, it is about maintaining brand consistency and customer relationships. As additional support, you can create something called a moodboard, which is a visual representation of your brand’s image. Here’s an example:
Whether you are a dental practice or a boat rental service in the French Riviera, the above tips on establishing your brand’s online tone of voice should serve as a guide for your digital messaging moving forward. Want some additional assistance? Contact Nathalia Porras Digital Marketing today and our expert team’s experience will ensure you see exceptional results.