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Defining your brand's voice and tone

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Presentation to the Brisbane Content Strategy meetup.
Meetup description: The language that we choose and the style in which we write can shape our customer's perception of our products and services. It can build trust, create rapport, and set us apart from our competitors. But how do you define voice? And, what about tone? In this meetup, I am going to show you a number of ways you can identify and document your brand's voice and tone. I'll explain the difference between voice and tone, take you through some practical workshop exercises you can run with your team or stakeholders, and provide you with examples of tools to communicate it to your content writers.

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Defining your brand's voice and tone

  1. 1. Voice and tone A presentation to the Brisbane Content Strategy meetup Prepared by Sally Bagshaw, Content Strategist, July 2017
  2. 2. Today, we’re talking about voice and tone What is voice and tone? How do you define it for your business/product? How do you communicate it to people creating content? Please tweet! @snappysentences @contentbne
  3. 3. • Have been working in the digital content space since 2001 • Previous clients include Queensland Department of Education, Bauer Media and, most recently, the University of Auckland. • I help bridge the gap between content, technology and user experience A little bit about me
  4. 4. “You know your mum’s voice. Her tone let’s you know if you’re in trouble.” The very wise Amanda Costello.
  5. 5. Voice helps define what sort of impression we want our customers to have of our business • How does our personality come through in conversations with our customers? Tone guides the choice of language for a particular situation • How do we want our customers to feel when they are having a conversation with us? (Hint: Tone is often where brands come undone) What is voice and tone?
  6. 6. Having completed our review of your claim, we have avoided the cover due to the Late <insert insured person’s name>’s breach of their duty of disclosure in their application for the <name of product> Policy. As a result of this decision, no benefits are payable.
  7. 7. http://cruelestoptouts.tumblr.com/
  8. 8. Other good examples: Who gives a crap
  9. 9. Other good examples: Cotton On brands
  10. 10. Consistent voice and appropriate tone is about more than marketing. It builds trust, it creates confidence, and it enhances the customer experience.
  11. 11. Do your research • Who should be in the room? • Look at existing material – including branding • Conduct a competitor review • Ask customers! Decide on what activities will work best • How much time you will have • Face-to-face vs online • Executive vs operational • Expected deliverables Activity prep • Book people’s time • Sort out a venue – make sure you have wall space • Gather the materials needed • Allow time for you to synthesise the outputs How do you define your voice? Tip! Remember to take photos during the workshop
  12. 12. Prepare questions: • What sort of job do they have? • What sort of jokes would they tell? • Where do they go for holidays? • Would they arrive late or leave early? Tips • This activity is best done face-to-face and when there is no existing documented brand personality • Depending on the number of people in the room, either transform the questions into a mad- lib (fill in the gaps) or stick questions up on the wall and come armed with sticky notes Activity idea: Dinner party guest
  13. 13. If <name> was a dinner party guest… You’d describe us as the person with stories of fun, friends and fabulous places. We’d come across as a thinker and a creator, someone who is approachable, friendly and who loves a good laugh. We could be trusted to keep a secret and be counted on to point out that piece of spinach between your teeth before anyone else sees.
  14. 14. Decide approach: • Use sticky notes for people to create their own • Use a card deck e.g. https://branding.cards/ or http://cards.appropriateinc.com/ • Or, look online and print yourself e.g. http://cfarman.com/blog/adjectives-for- describing-your-brand/ or https://www.nngroup.com/articles/tone-voice- words/ Tips • This is essentially a card sort, so you can do this online if you need to – Optimal Sort, trello, Google docs • Categories: We are/We are not, can add it ‘We would like to be’ if looking at re-branding • Don’t have too many cards, you’ll get bogged down in the detail • Review and refine once all the cards are out Activity idea: Is/Is not exercise
  15. 15. Set up the activity • Use pre-defined values e.g. ‘Four dimensions of tone of voice’ • Write these on a white board • Use sticky notes or magnets to place where on the scale people think voice should sit Tips • Good for alignment • Also suitable for mapping tone Activity idea: Sliding scale https://www.nngroup.com/articles/tone-voice-users/
  16. 16. http://www.robertmills.me/continuums/
  17. 17. What are the touchpoints? • Apps • Chat bots • Customer service • Forms • Email • Social media • Letters • Brochures • Microcopy/UI Tips • Not all will need separate guidelines • Ask customers! How do you define tone?
  18. 18. Why is someone reading/viewing/ listening to this content? How might they be feeling at this point in time? What do we do to make this content empathetic?
  19. 19. https://boagworld.com/usability/adapting-empathy-maps-for-ux-design/
  20. 20. http://voiceandtone.com/
  21. 21. https://www.slideshare.net/SarahKarp2/watch-that-tone-creating-an-information-experience-in-the-atlassian-voice
  22. 22. Choose the best format: • Online style guide • Printed material (posters, cards, play books) • CMS author tips Provide examples of doing it right! Don’t forget training Communicating your voice and tone
  23. 23. https://atlassian.design/guidelines/brand/personality https://atlassian.design/guidelines/brand/personality
  24. 24. https://polaris.shopify.com/content/voice-and-tone#navigation
  25. 25. http://brand.uos.ac.uk/tone-of-voice/
  26. 26. https://material.io/guidelines/style/writing.html
  27. 27. https://ux.opower.com/opattern/opattern-voice.html
  28. 28. https://gathercontent.com/blog/a-simple-tool-to-guide-tone-of-voice
  29. 29. fun and playful but not childish or silly We love a good pun but draw the line at being crass. Humour is a great outlet when used in the right way. We sound like someone you’d want to hang out with for the afternoon. We love great sounding words, but we steer clear of slang or misspellings. We keep it friendly, no judgment or assumptions.
  30. 30. http://getcoleman.com/
  31. 31. • There’s no right or wrong way to approach this. Do what fits with your own goals and situation. • Often the conversation that happens during the workshops/activities are the most important output. • Don’t forget customer service content – especially if you deal with a product or service that people might need to use in an emergency, or when they are feeling vulnerable. • Your voice has to reflect your internal culture. If it doesn’t, you’ll slip up. Things to remember
  32. 32. Questions?

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