Four Questions to Ask that Will Help You Find and Define Your Brand’s Tone
Communication is at the heart of any business relationship. Whether it’s with a new prospect or a longstanding business partner, the manner in which a brand communicates can make or break a sale. More than a color scheme or logo, a brand’s identity conveys who they are, what they stand for and what they do for their customers. This includes multiple factors such as brand tone and voice. A brand’s tone and voice represent the style they use to communicate with their audiences in terms of personality, emotion, choice of words and overall messages. Each of these elements plays a significant part in whether a brand’s message resonates with the marketplace.
Four Questions to Solidify Your Brand’s Tone
A brand’s personality shapes how people view the organization. Here are some foundational questions that help marketers solidify a B2B brand’s tone of voice:
1. Who is our target audience?
Understanding your target audience is crucial in developing a tone that resonates with them. Ask questions about their demographics, interests and pain points to create a voice that speaks directly to their needs. This shouldn’t fall solely on the shoulders of the marketing team. Understanding past, current and future customers is an active and ongoing practice best practiced throughout the entire organization. When stakeholders from all departments and levels are involved, it creates a customer-centric tone across all interactions. Jeb Dasteel of Customer Strategy Alliance says that understanding one’s customer goes hand-in-hand with brand advocacy. “Linking business programs and brand advocacy is especially important because it galvanizes different parts of the organization around customer-centric behaviors, processes and results,” Dasteel says. “It drives cross-functional collaboration in service of the customer experience.” A customer-centric focus helps businesses home in on exactly what kind of tone is already working. It also drives implementation of a customer-centric tone at any touchpoint throughout an organization.
2. What are our brand values?
Values are the underlying principles and beliefs that guide business decisions and actions. To achieve alignment with overall business goals, brand values are encapsulated in an organization’s mission and vision statements. Ask yourself what you’re trying to achieve with your brand and use that as a guide for developing a tone that supports those goals. Reflecting these values in marketing content creates an authentic and transparent brand voice. For example, if a brand values innovation and creativity, its marketing content may have a more playful, whimsical tone that reflects those values. On the other hand, if a brand values professionalism and expertise, its marketing content may have a more serious and authoritative tone. Consider what your company stands for and how you want your audience to perceive your brand.
3. What emotion do we want to elicit in our customers?
Tone is a natural reflection of emotion. It can also elicit emotion. A customer’s perception of a brand is largely impacted by our emotional responses. In fact, Harvard Professor Gerald Zaltman theorizes in his book How Customers Think: Essential Insights into the Mind of the Market that 95 percent of purchasing decisions are subconsciously driven by emotion. Researchers have even found that consumers often assign human characteristics to a brand, which further develops an emotional connection. Ask yourself what adjectives and characteristics you want people to associate with your brand. Use those as a guide for developing your tone. In a highly digital and disconnected world, conveying the personality behind a brand is more important than ever. When seeking a connection, consider what you know about client needs and challenges. For example, a recent marketing research study from the University of Alabama found that consumers who feel lonely are drawn to brands that evoke feelings of warmth, which fosters a positive feelings about the brand.
4. What is our unique value proposition?
A value proposition is the promise you make to your customers. It separates you from the crowd. It is a critical part of your marketing communications and serves as a guide for every customer-facing message. A value proposition explains how your products and services solve customers’ problems, what specific benefits you deliver, and why you are different from and better than the competition. Use the answers to these questions as a basis for developing a meaningful differential.
Finding Your Voice
In the competitive world of B2B marketing, a carefully defined and communicated brand tone is crucial to any organization’s messaging. A clear and consistent message helps establish a brand’s identity, differentiates it from competitors and builds authentic relationships with target audiences. By asking the right questions about your target audience, brand values, unique selling proposition, competition and business goals, marketers can create a tone tailored to the specific needs of their audiences. Once that tone is solidified, it’s vital to reflect on these questions regularly to ensure messaging is truly reflective of the company culture, personality and values. When B2B brands effectively communicate their message and personality, they connect with audiences on an emotional level that drives business success.