Most organisations have usage guidelines to dictate how their logo is used, where it can appear on the page, what kind of images can be used, and what type of language to use.
In a large organisation, where many different departments are communicating with the outside world it is crucial to have guidelines for people, or else you risk communication anarchy!
Tone of Voice is a perennial talking point within marketing departments. Young businesses want to sound hip, modern, current, on trend, fashion forward, up to the minute (whatever the current term is), while older, more established companies take a more traditional approach. Which is correct? Well, it all depends on your audience – doesn’t it always!
It also depends on the type of information you are imparting. Technical documentation or a white paper needs to carry gravitas – you want your audience to know that you know what you are talking about, and that you are an authority on the subject. On the other hand, social media posts need to be short and to the point and can be more relaxed. They certainly need to be more attention grabbing.
What you really need is a sliding scale
When it comes to tone of voice, you need some flexibility.
Web copy – is probably your baseline tone of voice. This is where most people will go to learn about your brand in detail.
White papers and thought leadership articles – should be professional and use more formal language. This doesn’t mean boring – the subject matter should be interesting and engaging in its own right. Your audience has invested the time to read your document, so it needs to be worth their effort.
Blogs – shorter opinion pieces or commentary. In essence, a short read that explains one point in more relaxed language. A blog is designed to draw people in, help them to get to know your business and products/services and start to build a relationship with your company, so that they feel like they know you.
Social Media posts – short, short, short. And they need to be attention grabbing. You can use abbreviations, jargon (sometimes) and even more relaxed parlance. Obviously for a professional business this should not spill over into using slang or being disrespectful or rude.
Press Releases – are not marketing documents! They are (should be) a statement of fact and need to be written in a particular way, for journalists and editors. Your audience here are professional writers, so press releases need to be perfectly crafted – and remember, you are not trying to write the headline for the journalist – that’s the sub-editor’s job!
Keep in mind, as with all written communications, it could be around online for years to come, so always re-read it with a cool head before you publish.