It’s easy to get wrapped up in the technicalities of planning a content strategy. If you’re new to the world of content and copywriting, the entire process can seem overwhelming and confusing. Thankfully, you don’t have to face it alone. You can select a content creator and leverage teamwork to get things done. One of the most crucial elements your team will tackle in creating a content strategy is finding and nailing your voice.
Written content is an integral part of your brand/business/professional voice. It’s the tool wielded to establish authority. It’s the unique style separating you from the competition. And on the Internet, it influences everything from image to search engine optimization.
Voice and Tone in Copywriting
I’m going to make a wild assumption and assume you’re no stranger to our blog. If I’m right, you’ve probably noticed that we’re not afraid to bluntly get to the point and offer blatant suggestions. We call this quality our voice; it’s hard-hitting. It’s something we carry across content, regardless of who writes it. Your content needs the same TLC.
When it comes to voice and tone in copywriting, it’s important to understand what they are and what they do. Copywriting breaks down into three primary components:
- Message: Your message is the thing you want to say to your audience. It’s the point you want to get across. It’s the why of each piece of content from landing pages to blogs and articles.
- Voice: Your voice is how you say your message. According to Grammar Girl, it’s “the distinct personality, style, or [the] point of view a piece of writing” takes on. It encompasses your brand’s persona. Think of James Earl Jones. He has one of the most distinctive voices on the planet. When he speaks, people immediately know who it is. You want a voice in copy capable of accomplishing the same thing.
- Tone: While your voice will remain consistent across all content, your tone will change. For example, when writing, Inner Geek: Be True to You, I chose a hard-hitting, pithy tone. In contrast, when writing, Inner Geek: Parting with Leonard Nimoy, I chose a soft tone. The tone of your content controls the impact of your message. It will be as versatile as the topics you cover.
Picking a Business Voice
Your brand’s voice and tone, or tone of voice, will go hand in hand. According to Marketing Land, it’s vital to remember that your “tone of voice must grow out of who you already are as a company.” It is — quite literally — an extension of who you are and what you stand for, two elements that will strongly reflect in your business. Just where do you begin?
Step 1: Identifying Your Business Values
What do you stand for? It’s a simple question, but it’s all too often answered in a generic manner. Of course you’re a proponent of quality, excellence and trust! Every business that isn’t a scam shares these values. So if every brand used them to shape their copywriting voice, they would all sound the same.
What business value sets you apart from everyone else in your industry? What drove you to open your doors? There must have been something you felt you could do better, something your business could offer that no one else could. And it was so needed that you excitedly struck out into the business world with a new intent; the intent to be the boss. What value or principle stands behind it all? That’s where you’ll find your voice.
Step 2: Wowing Your Audience
As Kate Kiefer Lee, Forbes contributor, so staunchly points out, none of us are impervious to the importance of a likeable and consistent brand voice. Our voice influences, persuades and sets us apart from everyone else. It builds trust. It promotes authority. It’s like infusing our baby (aka our business) with its own unique personality. But nailing yours, that’s a bit of a challenge. The ultimate goal is to connect with readers, giving them a taste of the humanity behind your professional front.
Sometimes a voice is an unexpected surprise. In fact, it can come with a major wow factor. Don’t believe us? Jump onto YouTube or Hulu and watch the American Idol auditions. You will see example after example of an otherwise normal looking person who shocks and wows the judges with an unexpected voice.
In the world of content creation, wowing your audience is crucial to hooking and maintaining interest. You will need a voice that reflects the who and what of your brand, but it also needs to capture and captivate the audience; otherwise, you might as well be talentless.
Just like in singing, pitch is everything. You will convey a particular pitch through vocabulary and structure. Word choice and flow are everything, but it’ll be up to you to pick the overall sound of your voice based on the needs of your audience. Some options to consider:
- Hard-Hitting: A strong, powerful voice that is unafraid of being blunt and upfront. If the audience is off their rocker crazy for doing something, your brand will grab them by the shoulders, shake them around and say, “What are you thinking?! No! Don’t do it!”
- Educational: A professional voice used to present facts and analysis. Never afraid to illustrate with a good story, an educational voice is reserved yet powerful, much like a tenured professor.
- Reserved: A reserved voice is careful, cautious and soft. Instead of making waves, the reserved voice speaks to the calm, contemporary thinkers of the world. It presents verified facts and allows readers to draw their own conclusions, much like unbiased journalism.
- Emotional: Some brands are the personification of passion, which makes their voice one of strong emotion. Their humanity shines through in large, flamboyant doses. They excel at connecting with their audience, quickly evoking a love it or hate it response.
- Controversial: The voice of no fear, a controversial voice is often a medium between hard-hitting and reserved. Brands delivering a strong, retro message create such a voice.
Step 3: Getting Some Backup
The truth is I could write an entire book on the science and art of voice in content. The fact is you need to understand and present your unique voice because without it, you’ll never elevate above the fray.
One final thought: there’s nothing wrong with getting some backup as you create content. And there’s equally nothing wrong with getting an unbiased opinion about just the right voice and tone for your copy is. If you feel like you could benefit from a consultation, message me.
Feature Image Credit: Iliana Mihaleva via 123RF Stock Photo