Workshop Wednesday: How to Fully Understand the Tone of a Business, and How to Reflect That in Your Writing.

Workshop Wednesday: How to Fully Understand the Tone of a Business, and How to Reflect That in Your Writing.

25/05/16 | Chloe Mayo

Here at Active Internet Marketing, we understand that learning doesn’t just take place behind a computer screen. That is why we have made it our prerogative to make sure that we are talking about digital marketing, and all that it entails, on a regular basis. Everybody has different strengths and perspectives to offer the team, which is why we have begun running workshops every other week, discussing and experimenting with ways to keep our digital marketing practices cutting edge.

As the Digitial Marketing Team Leader here at Active, I am invested in proving just how much the written word is capable of. This is why for our very first Workshop Wednesday, I focused on understanding the tone of a business and how to reflect it throughout our writing and campaigns. The benefits of establishing and maintaining a brand voice are innumerable, which is why it is a key part of our content marketing strategies. You can find my original presentation at the end of this article for your perusal.

Why is Tone of Voice Important?

Encapsulating a tone of voice is crucial when it comes to maintaining a sustained online presence. We want our clients to be recognised as industry-leading voices; we want their contributions to stand apart from their competitors. Creating a unique and recognisable tone, and sticking to it, means that readers become familiar with a brand. There is a strong link between familiarity and trust, as something familiar requires far less cognitive effort to process, making us more likely to feel at ease around it. If we can establish a specific tone of voice, even a personality, for our clients, then customers will become familiar with the brands, making them more likely to return and convert.

It is through online content such as blog posts, social media, and campaigns, that people can truly get a feel for the people behind the brand. A tone of voice both embodies and expresses the brand’s personality and set of values, making businesses more relatable for readers. It is always important to bear in mind that as digital marketers, we want our clients to become influencers in their field. Therefore, always remember that people are very sensitive to language, and will form impressions of a company as soon as they read their words; the more attention you pay to your tone of voice, the better this impression will be.

How Do We Discern a Client’s Tone of Voice?

In order to build a tone of voice in the first place, a company needs to determine the core purpose of their communication. Therefore, to understand a business’ tone, we need to understand their overall objectives. Recognising our clients’ values and way of thinking helps us to harness who they are as a company.

Tone is built up from a grassroots level; we need to convey why the company established themselves in the first place, ensuring that every piece of content reflects this original ethos. What basic human value is the company offering its consumers? This is an important question to bear in mind; I’m not talking about the product or service, I’m talking about what that means for a customer. O2 created a great campaign, where they managed to equate unlimited calls to living a free and unbound life. Consumers buy into a lifestyle rather than a product, so what lifestyle are you offering?

Understanding how your clients are positioned within their industry is also important when it comes to establishing their tone of voice. If we look at the fashion industry, there are different companies that fulfil a variety of roles for the consumer. Some, such as Debenhams, are positioned as stylists offering advice, whereas others, like Urban Outfitters, use more ambiguous language to sell a way of life – a sub-culture.

How to Reflect Tone in Your Writing

We could discuss this topic for hours, as reflecting tone through the written word is dependent on far more than finding creative synonyms and understanding the Oxford comma. When it comes to using appropriate vocabulary for your brand, it is easy to fall into the trap of letting the thesaurus do all of the work, frequently losing meaning and unravelling any tone you had previously built up.


It can be difficult to know how formal or informal to have your vocabulary. Try to find an average level that fits with the branding of your client, whilst appealing to their audience demographic. It is important to use this as an average, and set a scale to show how far you will dial up or dial down the tone based on the subject matter of your content.

When it comes to using technical language, studies have shown that customers tend to prefer more naturalistic language in marketing copy and content. This links back to what we were saying earlier about customers relating more to a familiar tone of voice, trusting the company more, and therefore being more likely to convert and return. By choosing to write using niche and technical terms, you are ostracising anyone who is not already an expert in your client’s field, which let’s face it, most people aren’t.

The opposite end of the spectrum to technical language is colloquialisms and slang. These types of language are a great way to inject personality into content such as blog posts; however, they will frequently be inappropriate, especially in copy. If you do decide to use colloquialisms in your writing, be sure not to date your work; only use phrases that will still be relevant and make sense in six months time. The type of language that is appropriate depends on the diversity of the audience. Ensuring that you understand your target demographic will help you to target your language to the right people.

When It All Comes down to It…

Finding the right tone for your client’s business is an integral part of establishing them as a brand. By incorporating an ongoing content marketing strategy alongside your digital marketing campaigns, you will begin to build an identity for your clients, establishing them within their industries.

Take a look at my original presentation below and feel free to use it for your own Workshop Wednesday!