Copywriting Tone of Voice – A Beginners Guide

The tone of voice you use in your marketing communications is important. Find out how to go about developing your own.

Staying consistent

A consistent tone of voice across all branded copy will reinforce company values. Equally, an inconsistent tone will confuse your audience as to what the company stands for; which could put customers off.

There will of course be some variation. For example, social media generally requires a friendlier, more personable tone than you might choose for your website. However, even this should manifest itself as a friendlier version of your established tone rather than a complete departure.

Deciding on a tone

What tone to adopt is entirely down to what your business is trying to achieve. When deciding on a tone it’s important to consider:

  • Your brand values
  • What makes you different (your USP)
  • Your target market
  • You

The last point is particularly important. It’s no good identifying that the best way to communicate with your target market is to be friendly and approachable if that’s just not you. Attracting customers with a red herring is no way to establish repeat business.

The first three points are the questions that will lead you to your tone. How do we want to come across? Knowledgeable? Authoritative? Approachable? If everyone else in the market is doing that, what is it that makes us different?

What is our target market and what language do they best respond to? If you have a young audience (say 16-24 year olds) your copy will need to be more concise and less formal than for an older audience more used to long format text and correct language.

How to achieve it

Those particularly comfortable with language will instinctively know how to adopt the tone decided on from the answers to the above questions. However, it can still be useful to delineate your approach.

You don’t have to produce an enormous style guide, but clearly establishing the underlying values you’re trying to achieve in all your copy with all of your copywriters will ensure your message is not obscured by inconsistent writing styles.

You will need to consider:

  • Format

Short, concise paragraphs? Judicious use of bullet points? Or a more long-format, detailed approach?

  • Vocabulary

Accuracy or understanding? Precise language or laymans terms? Are colloquialisms permitted?

  • Style

In broad strokes – relaxed or formal? Approachable but not chatty? Fun but not wacky? By gradually whittling it down by pitching between extremes you’ll quickly have a defined style.

What does your tone of voice say about your business? Have you considered it when writing your website and other marketing materials?