Tone of Voice
Tone of Voice Workshop
Create Your Unique Written Personality
Five steps to define your brand voice
In today’s competitive markets, your words are weapons. Is your brand voice razor sharp? Or does it have less bite than a banana? If it’s the latter, don’t fret. My interactive tone of voice workshops help you and your team get out of your comfort zone and create a unique written personality for your organisation.
For the TL;DR crew, on this page you’ll find out how I can help you:
- Research your market to find tone of voice opportunities
- Audit your existing content
- Define your tone of voice
- Apply it to any brand writing
- Capture everything in tone of voice guidelines
Bespoke tone of voice workshop
In a noisy world, a strong written personality helps you stand apart from competitors and build deeper relationships with customers. This is not just about creating cracking copy, it’s about getting senior decision makers together to define a written personality based on the unique qualities of your organisation. To help you use brand voice to maximum effect, my rigorous process has five stages:
A. Look out
B. Look in
A. Look out
Before the workshop, I do extensive research into your competitors’ copy, which I share on the day. This is the part that lots of otherwise useful approaches to tone of voice miss. What’s the point in defining your tone of voice in isolation?
By exploring what your competitors are doing we spot gaps to exploit and pitfalls to avoid. Companies in the same sector have a tendency to sound the same. Have you ever taken the time to check how your copy stacks up against your rivals’? Bosses often can’t recognise their own About Us copy when shown unbranded alongside other companies’ blurbs.
Many companies’ About Us pages are dull. Bulldog Skincare’s isn’t one of them:
B. Look in
A thorough audit of your copy helps us pinpoint where you’re getting it right and what needs improving. I take you on the journey a typical customer might follow when interacting with your brand: social media, blog post, web page, sales email, newsletter, and so on.
What do they experience on this journey—consistent communication or mixed-up messaging? Let’s find out and, if it’s the latter, do something about it.
C. Define (the tone of voice workshop)
The workshop itself is an intensive and fun session during which I guide you through a clear process using the 11 Primary Voices of Commercial Writing (nod to Nick Parker, founder of That Explains Things). Running a tone of voice workshop is a hands-on process; you and your colleagues discuss (argue), write and, ultimately, make decisions. No one knows your company better than you. I’m there to help you turn that knowledge into a distinctive written personality.
We also look at real examples from all sorts of brands so you can see the sheer range of what’s out there. Once you’ve settled on a broad definition of your tone of voice, you get your hands dirty with tone of voice workshop exercises, both individually and in teams. This bit is all about saying goodbye to your comfort zone and discovering how far you’re prepared to push your brand language. It’s challenging, rewarding and, dare I say it, great for team building.
At the end of the workshop, you have a written tone of voice definition and an understanding of how to use language to create different impressions on the reader. After the workshop, I apply the definition while writing your copy to bring your new tone of voice to life on the page.
A tone of voice definition is all very well, but how will it work in practice? You need a good-sized project (ideally something customer-facing like web copy) to test it out. While writing, or rewriting, copy we begin to see what works and what doesn’t for your brand.
All the insight we’ve gained during the project is captured in the tone of voice guidelines. The set of guidelines could be simple or it could run to many pages, depending on what is most useful for your team. Either way, it should contain a definition of your tone of voice, tips for applying it and examples of what to do and what not to do. The level of detail is up to you.
F. Tone of voice training
Okay, I lied. There are six stages.
How can you make sure all this good work lives on beyond my involvement? With a training session.
The training session is designed to help your team get the most from the guidelines and apply them to their everyday writing. ‘Team’ could mean the same group of people who were in the first workshop where you defined your tone of voice. Or it could be members of the wider department who write on behalf of the brand.
During this session, your team members have the opportunity to apply the guidelines during creative writing exercises and receive instant feedback on their work. The result is that rather than feeling like the guidelines have been imposed from above (a sure-fire turnoff), your people are involved and empowered.
Principles of good business writing
Now for the (not-so) secret part: you can turn tired writing into copy that’s clear, confident and compelling without even thinking about tone of voice.
People don’t read business writing (basically anything marketing related) for pleasure. It’s not like curling up with a good book. They’re probably downright hostile to reading it because they have lots of other things they’d rather be doing. They read it because they want something: a specific piece of information or an answer to a burning question.
So how can you make sure your customers get what they need from your writing quickly and easily? There are a few simple principles you can apply. They are the foundations of good business writing and I keep them front of mind whatever I’m working on.
Putting the reader first
It might be your copy but it’s not about you—it’s about them.
Getting to the point quickly
They haven’t got all day.
Using short sentences
Literature this ain’t—short sentences are easier to understand.
Keeping the language simple
No one is impressed by your distensible lexicon. Sorry.
Choosing verbs over nouns
—multi-platform solutions for user engagement—que?
Avoiding the passive voice
The classic corporate dehumaniser (although sometimes it is useful).
Watching for death by jargon and business-speak
Write like people talk (within reason).
Breaking some of the rules to keep it interesting
That’s what rules are for.
By holding a tone of voice workshop, you give your team the opportunity to work together to create a unique brand voice for your business. This approach is ideal for organisations that want to make waves in their sector and see brand language as a key part of their strategy. My process is thorough, based on the 11 Primary Voices of Commercial Writing, allowing you to define and capture your new voice, and start using words to maximum effect.
Need a tone of voice copywriter? Get in touch for a personalised proposal.