Tone and Tenor

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July 30th, 2020 3 minute read

Brand Messaging that Works: How to Strike the Right Tone and Tenor

Paula Frisby Copywriter

Brand messaging with tone and tenor. Where to begin? Obviously, you need a name.

And a unique logo, a color palette, fonts … and you’ll want to take the extra step and develop some brand guidelines to follow in applying all of these pieces.

But that’s just what they are: one-dimensional and meaningless pieces unless, underneath all of this, you have developed and articulated your voice, your brand’s tone and tenor.

When you think about some of the most memorable and effective brands, it’s not just the logo that comes to mind nor just the words.

More Saving, More Doing… I know you didn’t just read that without hearing that deep, commanding hyper-masculine Home Depot voice in your head. But when developing your own voice, and it’s not necessarily just finding the right spokesperson (that was just a very literal example), you need to define and assert the unique personality of your company or organization.

And the point is…

You might be wondering why on earth this is important. In fact, the majority of businesses skip this first, critical step in developing their own tone and tenor in favor of sexy tactics like social media and influencer marketing. They consider brand development an added expense with no tangible value, when in fact it should be the foundation of every marketing detail and messaging decision.

It’s like planting a garden in rocky, nutrient-sapped soil and then wondering why your flowers look so sad and are wilting away. By taking the time to do the research and amend your soil suitably to meet the specific needs of your plants, they will thrive, grow and come back year after year.

But where to begin?

An effective tone and tenor is revealed in the consistent, authentic and evocative way you talk about yourself and how you communicate your business’ differentiators: what you offer and why consumers should pay attention to you.

The first step in discovering this and articulating your tone and tenor is identifying what it is about your business (or organization) that inspires you. Think about “the why” of it; think about “the how.” Write it down or record yourself talking about it. And then reread it or listen to what you’ve said.

Who is talking to you?

If you were to assign a persona to this, does it sound like a close introspective friend, a commanding authority, a fun big sister, an educator or an advocate? Were there certain words that kept cropping up? Passion, heart or help, for example?

Taking the YOU out of it

The next step is the fun part! Experiment!

Craft three specific emails, consciously writing from the perspective of the unique persona you’ve settled on. For instance, you might try writing a promotional email, an email to thank your customers and a “just checking in” email.

Now reread those emails. Ask yourself as you’re going through them, is this you talking or is your business’ personality coming through? Going from one email to the next, make sure the same voice is being used — if your promotional email is fun and light-hearted, but your thank you email is deep and emotional, you’re not using a consistent tone and tenor.

Look at your list of keywords — are they there? If not, they probably should be.

Do the same thing with a variety of social posts. In comparing your posts with your emails – does it feel like they are coming from the same voice and personality?

Once you have these perfected, look at your website. Review your About Us page and revisit your mission and vision. Whether you’re selling a product or a service, make sure your voice is consistent and that your business personality is reflected in everything you write, design and plan in your marketing collateral and strategy.

Your business is your garden. You get to learn and experiment, and ultimately, enjoy and take pride in your successes and in all that grows there. You’ll know when you strike the right tone and tenor because it will be as though you’ve entered a new season; engagement will flourish, and you’ll begin to see your target audiences respond to and connect with you in new ways that are more vibrant, personal and meaningful.

Paula Frisby

Copywriter

She loves languages, adventure and travel. She loves to explore new perspectives and learn about diverse life experiences. Those are terrific qualities for a copywriter, and Paula Frisby puts them to work for clients every day. Her decade of experience in marketing and proposal management in the architecture/engineering industry adds even more insight.

She’s excelled at copywriting for years, but with Kinetic clients, “I get to be more creative than ever before. In many ways, this is cultural tourism as I learn about incredible companies that we get to work with on a deep level.” Paula, from Casper, Wyoming, earned a BA in Spanish at the University of Wyoming, where she also did graduate studies in Communications/Marketing.

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