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Writing for the web: Tone of Voice

It is a fact of life that over time people in certain professions develop their own way of speaking.

This trend is pretty noticeable when it comes to football mangers and politicians. How often do you find yourself switching off whilst hearing the all too familiar repetition of “they worked hard and made it difficult for us” or “new initiative aimed at cutting expenditure”?

When asked to name a manager or politician that stands out from the crowd though, most people will respond with someone like Jose Mourinho or Boris Johnson. Why? Because they seem to transcend dull clichés and rehearsed lines – in short, they both have a unique tone of voice.

We look at what this means for your accountancy firm:

The value of individuality

Very few businesses offer a completely distinctive set of services or products, so the task of differentiating yourself from your peers comes down to communication.

A business’ tone of voice is not synonymous with what it says, but is more about the way that it says it. 

The most powerful thing finding the right tone of voice can do for your business is to proudly display individuality. Every company is made up of a unique set of people, all with their own life experiences and ways of expressing themselves: this is the basis of your tone of voice.

In essence, it is what differentiates you from your competitors, shows your unique organisational personality and helps you to gain and retain customers.

Find your “Tone of Voice”

There is of course a difference between the person writing and the company they represent. While a sole practitioner’s web copy may be a chatty extension of their personality, an organisation made of up many people needs have a common voice to speak in. So how do you go about finding it?

Begin with your values 

Your tone of voice is an expression of your company’s core values. Your starting point should be identifying the values that drive your business forward, and use these to start figuring what you want to say and how.

Good questions to ask are: 

  • What was the company originally set up to do?
  • How do you improve the lives of your customers?
  • How is the way you work different?

Choosing your language 

Once you know what want you want to say about your business, you need to decide how you are going to say it. If you want to come across as friendly, you could be informal, conversational and jargon-free while avoiding slang and grammatically incorrect language.

If, on the other hand, you want to appear open and trustworthy, you want to aim for inclusivity and personal language without being patronising. Fun can be communicated through enthusiasm but can be undone by excitable exaggeration.

Know your audience

This may seem like an obvious point, but if your main client-base is made up entirely of older business oriented professionals, then you probably want to avoid slang. If your audience are young professionals then excessive formality might work against you.

The final point to remember is that consistency is king when it comes to using your chosen tone of voice. Having wildly differing tones of voice across your website in a wildly ad hoc manner is going to come across as disjointed.

How formal do you want your tone of voice to be?

This is particularly important because excessive formality, while portraying seriousness, can be perceived as boring and personality free. Too much informality, however, can portray individuality while making you look unprofessional. As with most things, the key is finding balance in the grey areas.

Getting it right

Communicating with the correct tone of voice is a great way to build trust and guide customers to interact with your business.

Talk to one of our editorial team about finding your voice today by calling 0117 915 0420, or use the form below:

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