Content Strategy

Voice & Tone

Kristina Halvorson

Kristina Halvorson

Brain Traffic
Content Strategy

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The "Voice & Tone" Lesson is part of the full, Content Strategy course featured in this preview video. Here's what you'd learn in this lesson:

Kristina discusses how a company communicates through voice and tone. A company's voice should not change much from section to section of site or platform, however the tone changes all the time depending on the context of the message.


Transcript from the "Voice & Tone" Lesson

>> All right, let's talk voice and tone, this is one of the most exciting, I love this. All right, so I'll explain why I've like underlined these lines in a second. So here is an example of a brand personality spectrum you can be personable and friendly all the way over to corporate and professional.

You can be spontaneous and high energy all the way over to careful thinking and planning. Modern or high tech classical and traditional and so on, so think about your organization or your personal voice and tone. Where might you fall on this spectrum? Do you feel like your company or personal writing it has put enough of a stake in the ground to have any of these qualities one way or the other anywhere along the spectrum.

Does anyone know about your company's voice and tone? Are you thought about your own voice and tone in your own work?
>> Actually, I might, what I'm working on is kind of like how you are I'm working on my site. And I actually got some very cutting feedback recently that a lot of my language sounded very robotic, which wasn't very yeah, right.

>> Wasn't a good thing.
>> You were not feeling good.
>> Yeah, so this is fantastic in a way and and it's interesting because actually for me then it is a real challenge, like, do I wanna be cutting edge or fun or more accessible? So there's that challenge of I want to appeal to all, I want it to be accessible but also I wanted to reflect me properly, so.

>> I'll give you a good piece of advice there, try to write like you talk. So write what you want to say and then read it aloud, and if you stumble or if it feels weird or if it doesn't like you, take a deep breath, say it the way that you would say it capture that in writing and then-

>> So don't have Siri, write my copy.
>> Maybe don't have copy AI is not going to deliver this copy for you. That's what marketers are excited about AI creating content for them, and I'm just like no.
>> Categorizing content, I think is,-
>> That is possible
>> Yes.

>> But you have to have good data
>> Yes, for it'll do that. See I learned that clean data.
>> [LAUGH]
>> Dirty data will destroy AI, okay? The reason I have these underlined is that these words mean different things to different people so, personable and friendly to me, it's just like hi.

How can we help you? Thanks for your form submission, some people personable and friendly might be hey there welcome to our site, super glad you could come by lets get going, okay? Winky face, so we wanna make sure that we are very clear on what we mean and what we don't mean by this brand, by this voice and tone statements.

Okay, I was gonna give another example of and I would have screen cap this to show but it was a client so I didn't. I was gonna give an example of there is a product available to basically protect you if your identity is stolen, and the whole site is like one in three Americans will have their identity stolen.

And here's the nightmare that you will look forward to if your identity is stolen. And here's this horrible story about this woman whose identity was stolen, and then you got to the About Us page. When the bios were like so and so as an avid skier and dog lover who lives in so and so with his three kids and he came to this after a storied career Mbalula.

I mean like the bios were super personable, super friendly, a little bit like jokey in some of them and I was just if I'm gonna give you $1,000 for insurance against identity theft or whatever, I wanna know that you are serious business and that you have my back, and that you've got depth of experience.

I don't wanna hear about your hobbies, and so this was an instance in which they had figured out their voice and tone throughout the site, which was serious, not quite threatening [LAUGH] but very, dire a little bit. And it worked for them it worked for what they needed, which is to get people to call them to find out more information.

But then it was so jarring to get to their corporate profiles and have them be so upbeat, and so we just rewrote them to be just very professional, very astir not mean or snotty or anything, but just we do serious business here and we take our jobs very seriously.

They thought they were being like personal accessible because they wanted people to know the faces behind the phones so that they would trust them about and I was just like that's not the kind of trust you want. You can chat with them about their hobbies once you get them on the phone but not in the website, okay?

All right, so this is super, super powerful to have the like this, not this little phrase. So if your voice is empowering, let's say that that. I don't like that is a voice and tone thing, but whatever let's say that it's empowering, right, like this when posting or advertising ask yourself have you selected newspapers, journals, websites and mailing list that reach diverse pool of applicants, right?

Not like this morning you must select the appropriate media to reach a diverse pool of applicants failing to do so, will jeopardize your home for talent. Your mandate is to assist applicants in achieving their goals so it should feel inviting and not threatening. So that's empowering, don't empower via shame, okay, here's another we call this the brand, the voice and tone wheel.

In this instance the client decided they were innovative, straightforward, reliable, experienced and smart, and we sort of did a weighted average of what percentage of their voice we felt that they should be. And you'll see, it was largely smart, experienced and straightforward that those were sort of the three things we were able to write content that was smart and straightforward that really highlighted their experience.

So, but people love this, they just love wheels and pie charts and things.
>> [LAUGH]
>> All right so if you go to even if you will never in your career define Voice and Tone, this is still just a wonderful lovely site to take a look at.

This is by a company called MailChimp is an email services company, and they have actually created their entire style guide online open source for anybody to take a look at. And what's wonderful is that they have really identified your voice is who you are as an organization, your tone shifts, depending on the situation, and the audience, so for example, I'm Kristina and sorry, I'm Kristina and my voice is me like I'm always going to be me.

But my tone speaking with you right now is gonna be a lot different than when I have an opportunity to call my kid back who's called me three times and is texting me going, please call me right now what are you doing right? That's gonna be a different tone of voice, so it does depend on audience, it depends on context and so on.

And so this site is beautiful in that it helps us see, how can we write for success messages? How do we write for public site? How do we write for Twitter and Facebook? So here's an example company newsletter, the user mindset is, I love reading news from MailChimp office, I always look forward to the experiments and stories they share in their newsletter.

So users feelings up here admiration, curiosity, trust, interest and surprise, right? So tips our most loyal users read the company newsletter treat them like friends be casual but helpful, so then here's some sample copy. So this is the tone that they take, all right, so here's the success message.

User finish this week's campaign I can enjoy the weekend there had relief, pride, joy, anticipation. And MailChimp always has like because when you press send on 100,000 emails, it's like then you do it and MailChimp is always just we love you, you're amazing great work, go take a break, have a drink whatever.

This was the other example that I had failure message, all right users feeling confusion, stress and anger, what went wrong, I really need to get this campaign out. So offer a solution or a next step be straightforward explain what's going on right away. This is not a time to just be like hey whoa now, what's going on?

Let's get in there and see if we can fix that for you, we experienced a problem one of our data centers or engineers are on the case, we'll have things back to normal shortly. Still speaking like a person, still super kind of friendly and authentic, very straightforward,, an example of like failure of voice and tone that I can give you as delta.

Delta makes me an insane person, and in fact, I think that I have, I don't know if I have it up. But two of their slides that makes me crazy, one of them is after you've been idle for a while, and you go back and you're now I'm gonna finish doing what I'm doing.

They have this screen that says get back in there you've been logged out due to inactivity which A I'm mad that I was logged out due to inactivity, B get back in there, it's I don't wanna get back in there, [LAUGH] you get back in there. That makes me crazy, another one that came up that was new recently is, I was trying to change a ticket online, and I wasn't able to change it cuz it wasn't within 72 hours.

The error message that I received was, let's try that again, it literally said that and I was just you jerks. Yeah, exactly so anyway, be very careful with tone in those instances, okay, but anyway, I encourage you guys to dig around on, it's really fun.

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