If tech companies ignore their tone and voice in content marketing they risk fading into the background or alienating their customers with a bland instruction manual voice or an inappropriate tone.
There’s so much that’s absolutely fascinating happening in the tech industry today, but needs to be communicated to reach customers (and other businesses alike). What’s the point of creating the next revolutionary software if no one understands just how amazing it is?
Before I get into how to create voice and tone guidelines, let’s talk about what they’re not: brand guidelines. Voice and tone guidelines are sharper and more precise. If your brand guidelines say that your company is innovative then voice guidelines would go deeper into what that means and the tone would define how that voice plays out in each content type.
Style and Personality Makes the Voice
If your brand was a person or car, what kind would it be? Asking yourself these kinds of questions helps to clarify just what your voice is. If you know that your company wants its brand to come through as smart, then what kind of smart would that be? Is it nerdy smart that gets really excited about tech details, but doesn’t sound like a robot? Define what your voice is and then set some boundaries by also talking about what’s not.
This is the time to also think about your users and how they will be using your content. Is it to find out more about the product, learn how to use it or find out more about the industry? Are you focused on being entertaining or educational?
Context Sets the Tone
If your voice should be nerdy but relatable, how that voice plays out will differ depending on the context. On social media, for example, take some license with the tone and be more playful than you would in other situations. On a press release, it would be more appropriate to take a serious but informative tone, but still maintain the voice.
Again, it helps to think about the emotional state of the user. Are they looking for reassurance or do they need to get the facts in the most efficient way possible?
Get your team into a room together and ask them a series of questions about:
- What the company does?
- How they feel working at the company?
- What are some other companies they admire?
- Who are your customers and what do you think they’re reading
On the second day, have a fun session where you ask what celebrity is their company? What kind of car? Food? This helps to bring out a more precise image of what the company is by being playful.
Add in the Visual Component
In creating voice and tone, if the visuals don’t match the voice and tone, a significant disconnect will appear in your content, confusing your customers and lessening the impact of your material. With the whole team in the room, it helps to have them cut out pictures from a magazine. Explore the colours, lighting (dark or bright), the angle (from a low angle looking up or vice versa), mostly close-up with only details or from far away. And then agree which images match your voice and tone the best and for which channel.
Train Your People (And Retrain).
If you create a set of guidelines and then forget to train your content creators, it will have all been in vain and a waste of time. Have everyone involved in content creation, writing pieces for each channel, and then discuss whether the pieces match the voice and tone of the company.
Most importantly, involve everyone from the get-go and periodically reconsider if the voice and tone are still true to your company.