Why tone of voice matters now more than ever

In a content landscape increasingly packed with generic blah, standing out from the crowd can give you an even greater edge. Here’s how a strong, consistent tone of voice helps set you apart from your competitors – and much, much more. 

Authenticity and originality matter. No one wants to sound exactly like everyone else. And that’s especially true when it comes to content.  

Having your own voice has always been vital for creating content with impact, but its importance is becoming even clearer with the advent of generative AI. Now the initial enthusiasm is wearing off, companies can see that relying on universal large language models alone produces content that’s pretty much the same as everything else out there. That’s why companies like Microsoft are experimenting with training AI models in their own brand voice.  

But, whether you want to train an AI model or just avoid producing bland copy, you need to start with a strong, usable tone of voice. So why, and how do you get a tone of voice that works? 

What tone of voice can do for you 

First and foremost, a strong tone of voice makes you sound like you – that way, your audiences can pick out your content from all the digital noise. But there’s more to it than that. Speaking in the right tone: 

  • Boosts connection – content written in the right voice helps you communicate in a way that lands with your audiences and is right for your brand and your business goals 
  • Helps you flex how you write – for different channels and audiences  
  • Gives you consistency – with clear, practical tone of voice guidelines, you’ll get consistent content no matter who’s doing the writing 
  • Provides a benchmark – once you know how your content is supposed to sound, you’ll be able to judge whether it’s getting better or worse, more or less you 

On the flipside, without a strong TOV you risk:  

  • Merging into the landscape – with content that lacks any distinctive flavour 
  • Content misfires – that don’t connect with audiences, fail to inspire or explain and don’t lead to conversion 
  • Inconsistency – if everyone goes about writing for you in their own way, your content won’t sound as if it comes from the same brand

How to develop a strong tone of voice

First, it helps to set your parameters and be clear about what tone of voice is and isn’t. Tone of voice is the way your brand would speak if it were a person. It isn’t just a list of adjectives from a brainstorming session plonked into a PDF that no one ever looks at. Nor are tonal values the same as your brand values.  

To develop a tone of voice that works for your business you need first to collaborate and consult. Properly. A TOV project that’s seen as top-down is doomed to fail. Getting as many people involved as possible, at least in the initial stages, will win you essential buy-in as well as giving you useful insights. 

Underpinning your consultation phase should be the principle that your tone of voice needs to be grounded in the reality of your brand. You’re not looking to come up with flowery values or impressive-sounding theory, but a TOV that’s practical and actionable. Something that’s right for your business and that writers can make come alive on the page. 

Once you’ve decided on your tonal values, you need great guidelines to make sure people can use them.  As well as defining your tonal values, guidelines need to show your TOV in action. That means giving concrete examples of how it works across different messages and channels so you can start talking to your audiences in your own unique way – and reaping the benefits – right away. 

Let us help 

At Sticky, we have a tried and trusted process for creating tone of voice with impact. Want to get started on your own TOV project? email us now

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