Don’t use that tone of voice with me, son!

tone of voice

I can just hear it, a lippy teenager giving an elder a correct reply, just said in too-smart a tone of voice. However, having the right tone of voice should not just be a distant memory of how we as rebellious youngsters used to get back at teachers, parents or other figures of authority, its very relevant in the business world.

We read so much about content in this age of digital communication, but delivering the content with the right tone of voice is just as important. Of course, this is just as true of traditional forms of promotion such as advertising, PR, brochures and even pack design as it is of social media and web.

That there is more than one way to say things is easily seen if you think about newspapers, a tabloid headline sounds significantly different compared to a broadsheet’s. The former being more familiar and to the point, the latter more formal and hopefully more eloquent!

Certain industries and sectors tend to traditionally verge on formal, conservative tones of voices. Many financial institutions forget that they are dealing with people and we receive stuffy, pompous communications. The same can be said of many public sector messages. New entrants to the market are often successful because their whole strategy is focused on communicating the same messages in a more user friendly way. Think of how dry insurance advertising used to be, compared with the more engaging, wittier approach used in the recent campaigns of Compare the Market, Go Compare and Sheila’s Wheels.

I often see highly erudite people, who are very charming and great company, falter when it comes to social media. Their Tweets and Facebook messages fail to engage, because their tone of voice is too professional, too dry and full of professional jargon; whereas, a chattier, informal tone would have yielded much more success. The key is to engage and inform through the tone of voice you might use if talking naturally to a person from a given segment.

So what are the rules?

  1. Understand your target audience, making sure that you are using the right tone of voice for each segment.
  2. If you are dealing with a complex target audience, you might need to consider several different tones of voice and utilise a segmented approach to communications. Just as we might modulate our tone if talking to children, spouses or colleagues, we might wish to adopt a different approach for the same message if dealing with different countries or sectors. What might be ‘cool’ in Australia, might be ‘too hot’ in China or UAE.
  3. Communications whether formal or informal, should always be clear and coherent.
  4. A good message, delivered through whatever medium, should sound natural and be relevant and be medium appropriate too.
  5. Avoid long stuffy, communiques.
  6. Just because everybody else in an industry sector communicates in a certain way, doesn’t mean that they have got it right!
  7. If possible test your style through research or a trial. What response are you getting.
  8. Finally, the tone of voice should always be brand appropriate too.

5 Reasons Why You Need A Clear, Corporate Vision

All companies should have a corporate vision, whether a one man band or a large multinational. Sadly, not all companies do, although you can usually tell those that don’t. They tend to be not quite as successful or slick as those companies who have taken time to create and share their vision. Those companies without one might, if they are lucky, be successful in spite of themselves – but only temporarily so. Companies sustaining growth and success, tend to have clarity about business direction. They tend to better understand the dynamics of their marketplace and their position within it.

Lacking in more ways than one, companies without vision are vulnerable. They tend to be slow to react to changes in the market place and in today’s challenging times, who can afford to be like that? If an innovation occurs, a recession lingers or a competitor or new entrant is biting at their heals, then it can be very hard to retain or claw back market position.

Those companies who have not thought clearly about their direction aren’t really fit for purpose. Whereas those with an up to date vision, one which has perhaps organically evolved from the original, tend to be more successful: leaner, fitter and more attuned to the market in which they operate.

Keeping a vision up to date is really important. It’s not really good enough to keep wheeling out an old tired vision that had relevance when the company was first established, many moons ago. The trouble is many may start with one, but somewhere along the line they forget what it was that first ignited the entrepreneurial flame.
Oh, everybody can spout the company mission statement, but it loses relevance as market forces change.

So what are the five key facts that you need to know about vision?

No 1 – Having a corporate vision is empowering and increases the chances of business success. This sets the parameters for the company’s business operations and its growth and development.

No 2 – Vision enables staff to react to commercial opportunities and to innovate where appropriate. It ensures relevance in different market places and gives staff permission to develop and explore.

No 3 - Vision is not a static mission statement, but a statement of intent that, over time, organically adjusts to the way a target audience evolves. The essence of the vision may remain the same and its very definition should not constrict but enable.

No 4 – Great vision tends to lead to a stronger brand definition. Customers tend to have a clearer understanding of the brand, a healthier interaction with it and greater brand loyalty.

No 5 – All business stakeholders should be clear about a company vision. It should not be something dreamed up by senior management and kept within a board room. Ideally, vision should be created by staff, clients and stakeholders. Everybody should get where the company is coming from and indeed, going to!

The time is right to define or revisit your corporate vision. Make sure that it is appropriate for the present and the future and that it has relevance to your company, your target audience and to your staff.