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Your ‘brand tone of voice’. That’s something you’ve probably heard, but you might not know how to go about finding it. How the heck do you find the tone of voice that’s right for you and your brand – with just enough personality, without sounding over the top?

And most importantly, sounding like you? If you’re confident in your tone of voice and the way you’re talking to people, your writing will flow so much more easily.

So what’s a tone of voice?

It’s the feeling our audience or customers get from the way we write. It’s our ‘writing personality.’ Why is this important? Because when we market our businesses, we want to attract our perfect customers and for them to trust us. And we also want to repel the ones we don’t want, and the best way to do that is to talk in the tone of voice that will appeal to and connect with them.  That usually always means writing in a chatty and friendly way. But the exact tone (just how friendly, whether it’s fun or serious or completely tongue-in-cheek), well that depends on you and your brand.

A writing personality (or tone of voice) that fits your brand can instantly give people a feeling they’re in the right place (if they’re your ideal customers).

To see what I mean, take a look at other brands.

Sometimes, I play a little game where I look at adverts or packaging for different brands and I try and guess who they’re aimed at from the tone of voice that they use. I’m a bit of a geek like that. I do find it endlessly fascinating to see how different businesses are connecting with their customers, and the language they’re using.

A great example of a brand that really pushes the boundaries and is quite tongue in cheek about their marketing and their tone of voice is Virgin. Some of it’s quite cheeky. It wouldn’t fit every brand, but it suits them perfectly. You’ll see stuff on their vans about ‘losing your virginity’ for example.  It’s distinctive, unique and edgy and they want that kind of very ‘out there’ tone of voice. 

Now, at the other end of the scale, a High Street bank might have a much more friendly but formal type of tone of voice.  But there’s a big spectrum in between.  Some newer brands sometimes have a quite quirky tone of voice.  I’m always on the lookout for good a tone of voice. There’s a brilliant pie brand that has a very great tone of voice – very quirky and very fun. And that really appeals to me personally because I’m obviously in their target market. 

That’s how you can tell if you’re in the target market for a brand (if they’re doing the marketing properly) –  if it appeals to you and it draws you in, you’re obviously in that kind of target market they want to attract. 

You’ve got to decide where to pitch your own brand tone of voice. Is it leaning towards more formal, or is it the fun and quirky end of the spectrum?

Is it coy or more in your face?  This all depends on you, your business, your brand and who your customers are.  There’s no point in having an ‘in your face’ tone of voice that regularly references modern culture if you create products to appeal to people in their 70’s.  Because it probably won’t appeal to them.  

Think about it: you wouldn’t talk to you Granny the same way you talk to your 4-year old niece, would you?

I don’t want you to get overwhelmed by this though, because it’s so easy to worry about what’s right and what’s wrong. Ultimately, especially if you’re a personal brand, you’ve got to do it from your heart. You’ll know whether something sounds like you and is authentic to you. It just takes a bit of practice. So don’t really don’t overthink it. But here are a few tips to get you thinking and point you in a direction that’s going to help you.

Now, some tips on finding your brand voice:

Be clear on your brand.

Who are you? What’s your mission? Who do you serve? What’s your big aim in your business? This is really important because – for example if you’re a charity that works with abused women, that’s a really serious topic. So you wouldn’t want to have a tone of voice that is too irreverent or silly because it would really jar with the message you’re trying to get across. 

So you really need to think about what your brand is, what you do and what kind of voice might fit with that. And it’s really helpful sometimes I think, to just brainstorm three words. If you could sum up your brand, which three words would you use? 

Does your brand tone of voice have to be the same as your own voice? No, but when it comes to personal brands or businesses that are very entwined with the founder, I think it’s really helpful if you think of your tone of voice as your own voice, but just magnified. 

(Magnified image)

So, my tone of voice, for example, is fun.

I really like to create fun and energy and kind of inspiration for people to take action. That’s part of my brand because I want to inspire business owners to take action, and they’re not going to do that if it’s boring. So I want it to be fun and I want to inspire them. Therefore I need to use the language to give them energy and take action. Does that mean in my personal life, I’m 100% on all the time and doing cartwheels all the time? No, it absolutely doesn’t. I have a very serious part of my personality as well. But what I do is I take a small part of the more fun side of my personality, and I try and magnify that. And that fits my brand and helps to create a brand tone of voice that’s unique to me, because it ultimately comes from me 

And it’s very authentic too –  because I’m not trying to be someone I’m not. It’s really important your tone of voice is authentic to you because it’s not going to work if it isn’t.

So be clear on your brand, your mission, and make it authentic to you. 

Be clear who you’re talking to. 

When you’re writing something in your business, you’re not just writing something. You’re having a conversation with someone. Now, you can’t always see the other side of that conversation. You often can’t see the other side of that conversation, but someone is receiving that information, and in their heads, they are creating a response, even if you don’t see it. 

You need to be really clear on who you’re talking to so you can talk in the right way to that person. Think about your ideal customer. I don’t think you should be too rigid in this. But it definitely helps me know that most of my customers are female, and I’m generally talking to someone just starting out in business. So I just have a good idea of the energy around the person I’m talking to, if that makes sense. 

Imagine you’re having a conversation with a typical customer and how you would talk to them, and that’s a good indication of how your tone of voice should be. 

Use your own unique words and phrases.

The other thing that I find really helps, is to find those little bits of your everyday conversation, your unique phrases, we call them your ‘unique phrases’ that you use every day. 

Everyone has little things that they say. It’s what makes you, well ‘you’.  And so it’s about just maybe digging around and finding out what those phrases and what those words are. Because when you find out what these phrases and words are and you use them intentionally in your written copy and in your social media posts – it automatically helps people realise they’re talking to you. It just injects your personality into your writing. 

It’s a really handy tool to take those words that you use every day, and just inject them into your writing.

We all have little words and phrases we use that we can borrow and also use in our written copy. Everybody uses a basic vocabulary, the same kind of words, really. So having those little nuggets of words that we can throw in to add in our personality is like adding a flavouring to a cake.  The same basic ingredients – eggs, flour and sugar…but these words add the flavouring. It really helps us stand out and makes it unique to us. 

A great example of this is when I used to do some ghostwriting for someone and they were very full of personality, very full of life, with lots of energy. This person would use the word ‘Fab’ a lot. And I knew she used that word a lot, so I’d use it when I was writing for her. Instantly, people would feel she was talking to them, even though she didn’t actually write the written copy. But focusing on some of those key words and phrases that she used just helped me really channel her tone of voice.

How do you find those little words then?

Because you won’t see these things yourself. So talk to your friends, your family, ask them: “Which words do you think of when you think of me? What words do you think of me saying? Which phrases do you think of me saying? What immediately springs to mind?” 

You can also do it yourself. Start a Google Doc, put the voice typing mode on, and talk into your computer. And just be very natural and almost like you’re imagining having a conversation with someone. And just talk and start to notice the kinds of words you’re using.  So there’s a bit of detective work to be done. But it’s a really helpful tool just to instantly inject your own personality into something that you’re writing.

Be fully onboard with wanting to use your unique tone of voice.

The next thing you need to do (and this is going to sound really, really obvious, but I’m going to say it because I think it’s important). Is to be mentally ready to stand out. That’s going to sound weird, because if you’re reading this and you’re interested in creating your own tone of voice, then you’re going to say, “Well, Vicki, of course I want to stand out. That’s why I’m reading this, for goodness sake. I want my tone of voice to stand out.” But here’s the thing. If you don’t want truly to stand out and put yourself out there in every single cell of your body, then you will sabotage yourself . And you won’t truly put yourself out there and create your best, most distinctive tone of voice because there’ll be something holding you back. 

So, really be honest with yourself.

Are you ready for this? Are you ready to put yourself out there and be uniquely you and to stand out, in your own unique and distinctive way? You absolutely should be. You’ve got nothing to fear, but just make sure you’re not holding yourself back. Because people don’t always realise this. They think, “Oh yeah, I’m going to follow this process. I’m going to find my tone of voice. It’s fine”. If you’re not truly bought into this process with 100% of your body and your energy, then you’ll kind of hold back a little bit. You won’t create your best, most unique brand voice, because deep down you don’t really want to be recognised. You’re a bit scared of it. 

Like I said, it sounds really obvious and you’re going to say,” Whatttt?”. But I really think it’s important to say, because people don’t always know this stuff is going on in their heads. It can hold you back and you might not realise why. So really make sure you are 100% in and that you are confident, because YOU CAN DO THIS! You can totally do this and you just need to believe in yourself. The last thing I’m going to say (and you might find it quite boring), but I have to say it because it is so important, is practice. 

Anything I do, I find it only gets better because I practice.

I only get clarity when I start taking action. I used to hate writing when I was at school, and now I love writing, and that’s only because I’ve practiced. There’s no big secret to that. I’ve practiced. You’re not going to get this stuff straight away. That doesn’t mean you should sit and wait before you create your tone of voice until you get the clarity, because that won’t happen. You’ll only get the clarity around it when you start taking action. The action has to come first. The action must come first, because if you don’t take the action, you won’t get the clarity. 

If you just sit there and meditate and wait for it to come to you, it’s almost certainly never going to come. You need to take the action. You can meditate as well. I totally recommend that, but you’ve got to take action, too. Action is really important, so just make sure that you practice, try and write with your tone of voice. It might take you a few different attempts. You might tweak it.

Don’t get bogged down by this whole idea.

People can get so into their heads about, “Oh, we’ve got to be perfect.” But just NO! You’ve just got to put yourself out there, take messy action practice, and you will get the clarity. It doesn’t need to be perfect. It won’t be perfect. I can guarantee it won’t be perfect. Recently I read someone said that the only perfect thing when you’re writing, is a blank page. And it’s so true. It’s not going to be perfect and that’s great.  Because it means you’ve done something. going to be perfect, Allow yourself to start at the beginning and you’ll evolve and go on a journey of finding your own tone of voice. 

Remember, it’s not a one-and-done thing.

It’s a journey you’re starting on at this very moment. And you might be at the start of that journey, or you might be halfway through. I’m certainly not at the end of my journey. My tone of voice is constantly evolving, too, and I’m a writer. But I think you start to realise that the longer you do these things and you have a business, that it’s just a constant journey of learning that we’re going on. And that’s what’s so exciting, because who knows where we’re going to go next? But don’t be bogged down or intimidated by this idea that it has to be perfect straight away, because it really doesn’t. And it’s important you understand that. 

I want to get you excited to start on this journey of finding your brand voice and stepping out there with confidence to be you – and letting the world know who you are – because you are UNIQUE. You have magic in you and I think this is so well portrayed in the film Encanto recently. If you’ve haven’t seen it then *spoiler alert* but ultimately she realises at the end of the film that the magic is in her all along. The magic in the world that she’s yearning for, is in her all along and it’s in all of us and it’s about just really being confident to step into that and having your tone of voice.

A huge part of it is believing in yourself and wanting to put your best self out there. So I wish you all the best on this journey, wherever you are on it. 

If you have any questions about how to find your brand voice, how to find your tone of voice or any more tips then just drop me a line by email here.

Have you started finding your tone of voice yet? Which three words would you use to describe it?

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