February is traditionally the month we pay careful attention to our words. When trying to craft meaningful sentiments for those who matter most, you’ve probably reflected on a time someone paid you a compliment. Or maybe you’ve thumbed through Pinterest for the perfect quotes to pen into your Valentine’s Day cards.
The truth is, it can be challenging to express the precise message you want to convey. Depending on your relationship with the person or audience you want to reach, you need to set precisely the right tone. And while it’s easy to focus on how you feel about others and how they make you feel, how you make others feel — and how they feel about your brand — is just as important.
Cryptic messages expressed through sweet confection conversation hearts are not going to cut it when it comes to connecting people with your brand. It’s vital you clearly and consistently express your values and message across all communication channels. Here are a few times you need to you make sure your words count:
Across your content
Your website and blog content are the foundations on which you build your brand’s voice. In fact, the point of practically every other way you communicate with potential customers is to get them to land on these pages. It’s undoubtedly the easiest way to get the biggest bang for your buck when commanding words to drive conversions.
Naturally, you carefully considered colors, logos, and visuals to express your brand’s unique message. But you also set the tone for how people perceive your personality by the words you choose.
Consider whether you are comfortable using words that make people feel negative emotions. In spite of evidence that positive words carry less information than negative word choices, many prefer to avoid all negative connotations in their content.
Likewise, while you want to let readers connect with the “real you,” do you really need to talk to your audience like you would
pirates your best friends in a bar? Maybe you do! And good for you for being authentic. Just keep in mind, this tone will follow your brand and pave the way for how people interpret your message.
Be honest in how you create your online voice. If you project the wrong vibe, you might deter the customers and talent you’re trying to attract. Likewise, it might draw attention from those you don’t want to associate. Keep in mind, these followers become part of your brand.
On social media
It’s no longer a big marketing secret for success. Arguably, it’s a necessary evil: you should regularly engage across your social media accounts.
Social media is an area you especially need to be deliberate with your tone. Whether posting shares or commenting in response to followers, if you let impulse get in the way of your brand’s voice, your message will be misconstrued.
Funny or pointed memes are fun to share and often drive the most engagement. But what does your brand’s association with the original source say to people who see it? Be sure to research where all images come from, what user rights are in place, and how people generally respond to them.
You also need to have a plan for how to react to negative feedback on your posts. Even your best-laid strategies for social engagement are bound to backfire at some point. When someone is offended by or debates your position on social media, respond with your brand’s tone in mind — not the nagging voice in your head.
You may even be able to use your social media “voice” to draw in followers and customers. Many brands have seen excellent success marketing passively through their witty, thoughtful, and prompt responses on social media.
Unless you have a storefront, email is likely the most common way you directly interact with customers/potential customers. The trouble with written communication is it’s easily misconstrued. That’s why it’s crucial you critically review how your tone translates across email messages.
Naturally, your brand’s voice through email should align with the overall personality of your web content and social media persona. After all, customers most likely found your contact info through one of those sources.
With that said, it doesn’t hurt to try to match the tone of the people you’re communicating with via email. For example, did the person use a casual salutation or emojis, or did they address you formally? Look for clues in whether they are short and direct, or if they are looking for more in-depth explanations.
The key here is to be relatable and ensure you create a real connection. You definitely don’t want to sound automated or impersonal.
Online tools like Grammarly can give you instant tips on your tone. It’ll tell you whether you sound friendly, conversational, confident, or even confrontational. You can also opt to have friends/peers read over an email response or two (nothing with confidential information) and give honest feedback on your word choice.
During personal interactions
Meeting face-to-face with potential customers and possible future team members is undoubtedly the most important time to pay attention to your wording and overall tone. Unfortunately, these interactions become extra-complicated because you add in body language.
Be sure who you are in person is who you come across as in your written communication and online narrative. Your audience trusts that you are painting an honest picture of your brand’s personality and values. They’ve connected with your words and expect you to deliver on the promises they receive from your content.
This pivotal moment is why it is so critical your tone and word choices are deliberate and genuine from square one as you create the voice for your brand.