Find your voice, mind your tone

Picture of person in a workshop

By Saskia Videler, Content Strategist at Internet Architects

Does your organisation have a style guide, defining the colours and fonts to use in your communication? If so: great! But does it also contain guidelines about content, voice and tone? It should!

Because just as that specific shade of blue you chose carefully to express your brand, the voice and tone of your content is just as defining of your corporate or organisational style. Is the voice of your organisation trendy, upbeat and progressive or down to earth, professional and direct?

The benefits of a content style guide are myriad. To name a few:

  1. When several (or many) people are creating content for your organisation, having a document with clear guidelines give them a much better sense of what style is needed when and where. This saves them guesswork, correction rounds and time.
  2. Knowing the boundaries of the playing field fuels creativity.
  3. It defines the style of all kinds of content, and will in fact influence your design style guide as well.

Finetune your definitions

Step one is to pin down the characteristics of your content guidelines. But doing that on your own or with only a few of your marketeers holds a few dangers. You need input from different ‘corners’ of your organisation.

That’s why we’ve been facilitating workshops for our clients, helping them define their voice and tone. During these lively sessions it often feels like we are touching on the DNA of the organisation, as we tend to go really deep into the heart of things.

We use cards to select what characteristics fit and which don’t. After we’ve sorted through the big pile, we collectively place them on the table in specific shapes and orders.

People in a card sort workshop

Nuance is key. Ask yourself and each other: What do you mean when you say ‘friendly’? How would you define ‘to the point’? What does ‘professional’ mean to you? Only by doing this, we are able to have a collective, precise definition.  

Match your tone to their tune

In step two we move to the other side of the table. What does the customer need? Are they happy or hurried? What does this mean for the content and how does it influence the tone?

The output is a style guide in which the voice and tone are described, together with some examples and do’s and don’ts. And guess what: it’s a perfect companion for that design style guide you already have!

Moreover, these workshops really create a shared, often better understanding of who you are as a company and how you communicate.

Are you looking for your voice? Let us help you find it! Contact us for more information on our content workshops.


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