When you’re ready to start working on your voice and tone guidelines, there are a few important things to consider that’ll help you along the way.
Step 1: Determine your target audience
Identifying your target audience—the specific group of people you want to reach with your products, services, and marketing—is crucial to every aspect of your brand, so it’s no wonder that it plays a key role in developing your voice and tone, too.
Once you know who your audience is, it’ll be easier to figure out how to communicate with them and what type of messaging will resonate most. Ask yourself questions like:
- What are their demographics?
- Where do they live?
- What are their interests?
- How do they communicate with each other?
The more information you have about your target audience, the more successful you’ll be in creating a brand voice that speaks to them in a relevant, effective way.
Step 2: Determine your goals
Before you can determine what to say or how to say it, it’s important to take a step back and clearly outline the purpose—the goals—behind your messaging. If you’re a retailer, for example, your overarching goals might be to sell your stuff and communicate its quality, effectiveness, or value. If you’re a software or app developer, you might want to establish yourself as an authority on a particular subject and teach folks how to do a specific thing.
Once you’ve got a general idea of the goals that should drive your messaging, it’ll be easier to make sure that your voice and tone guidelines are aligned with those goals and all of your content is created with them in mind.
Step 3: Define the core values you want to communicate
Your goals aren’t the only factor shaping your voice and tone and driving your messaging. Your brand’s core values play a significant role in every aspect of your communication, too. As you’re creating your guidelines, identify the traits and principles that are true to your brand or culture, and then use them to build a brand voice that feels natural and authentic.
Not quite sure what your core values are? Answering these questions might help push you in the right direction:
- What does your brand stand for?
- What sets you apart from the crowd?
- How do you want people to perceive you?
- How do you want to make people feel?
Step 4: Create a list of standards
As you’re developing your guidelines, it’s a good idea to lay out some specifics about what to do—and what not to do—when communicating on behalf of your brand. For example, maybe there are certain words you want to avoid when talking about yourself, your brand, or your customers. Or, perhaps you want to be quirky without coming across as weird, and casual without an emphasis on slang terms or forced humor.
By including these types of details in your voice and tone guidelines, you’ll always have a helpful resource you can refer back to if you’re not sure how to handle a particular content situation.