Finding the Right Tone for Your Business

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Ray eckhaus

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When the public is looking for business to work with, the business’s tone sets the scene first. Tone describes how your business presents itself through its digital writing, values mentioned online, and highlights in your advertising.

Finding your business’ tone early-on is the best way to build a dedicated client group to recommend you or purchase from you in the future. How do you balance the tone of your business while still standing out from your competition in a desirable way?

Industry Tone

Depending on your industry, your audience and their expectations will differ. Think about Old Spice deodorant. They had an over-the-top campaign that focused on irreverence and comedy to stand out from other deodorant competitors and highlighted desirable masculinity to match the pain points. That same tone used for a bank, or a loan program would not be appropriate because the public is looking for a business they can trust with their money.

Comedic tone can lower the company credibility if done wrong and highlight the company if done right. Farmers Insurance, for example, presents over-the-top scenarios which would likely never happen in real life. Typically, comedy is not recommended for an insurance company, but Farmers Insurance already has a long-standing reputation in the insurance industry. Combining their reputation and their jokes, Farmers Insurance could clearly express their message without risking their credibility as a company.

The bottom line is that your company’s personality will be a defining factor for your audience. If your target is younger people, they may appreciate a less-serious tone. If your target is broad and speaks multiple languages, being straight forward in your advertising may be a better option. Research what your competitors are doing, and take notes. Put yourself in your primary audience’s position and gear your advertising tone towards that.

Check Before You Publish

The initial content you put out to set your company’s tone are going to make the biggest impact. Ensure your vocabulary and punctuation match your tone. Standard writing rules suggest avoiding longform sentences or use exclamation points often, since off as long-winded or over-excited leaves an unprofessional, unedited impression.

People also tend to forget about the importance active tone. Passive tone can artificially bloat word count and come across as impersonal, while active tones tend to feel more natural and direct. As George Orwell said, “Never use the passive where you can use the active.”

And as one final tip – Don’t forget to proofread! It’s easy to think this goes without saying, but it’s always better to get one last look in before publishing your article or newsletter. The last thing you want is to overlook a typo just because spellcheck missed it this time around.

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