5 ways to develop your business’s tone of voice

October 14, 2016Content Writing

Content marketing is a process of opening a dialogue with your audience. As with any form of business communication, you should develop a unique tone of voice.
This is determined by not just the words spoken but also by the order, rhythm and pace. These can help add nuance and personality to the written words. In addition, the tone of voice must be a good fit with your business and your target market.


Understand your business

A tone of voice shouldn’t be treated as an afterthought. Instead, it should be developed in tandem with the core values that already underline your brand.

In order to achieve this, have a clear understanding of your business’s values.

Brainstorm the key personality traits that define your brand. Are you seen as a:

  • Smart, technologically driven business?
  • Fancy, luxurious business?
  • Fun, affordable business?

It’s also important to consider what core values underpin your business decisions. Do you aim to be sustainable? Do you pride yourself on placing the customer’s needs above your own?

Again, these factors will play a part in determining the right tone of voice for your business.

You can survey customers to see if they understand the core values of your brand. An outsider’s opinion can be the most illuminating.


  • Identify the key values and personality traits that underlie your business.
  • Use this information to direct your tone of voice.


Understand your consumers

As with any business decision, the tastes of the consumers must also play a major role in your tone of voice. Your tone should encourage and invite the other party to engage.

You don’t need to be extremely friendly. Some demographics will respond better to more formal or more casual tone of voice. This is why researching your target audience is so important.

A thorough understanding of your market will allow you to clarify the right tone in communications. It needs to speak to your audience’s needs.

A great way to harness this understanding is through the creation of persona. These are summaries of a standard example of your target audience, detailing their demographic, geographic, psychographic and behavioural characteristics.

These personas will give you a more defined subject to picture and will give you guidance when writing.


  • Your target audience – and what they will respond to best – must play a defining role in designing your tone of voice.
  • Use persona profiles to help develop a clearer picture of your customer.


Learn from your competitors

Competitors are a great reference point in deciding which tone of voice is most appropriate within a certain market.

Take notes from those that do well and those that do badly when engaging their audiences with content marketing. You will see what aspects of tone, pace and personality consumers respond to best, and what aspects they dislike.

Don’t be ashamed to learn from those who are doing their content marketing effectively. Think of it as market research.

Analysing the competition doesn’t always involve mere imitation. It may allow you to identify a gap in the market, such as a tone of voice that doesn’t exist.

If you feel there’s significant demand from consumers for a voice that’s not being filled by competitors and matches your brand’s personality, you may be onto something special.


  • Learn from how the target market responds to your competitors’ tone of voice, whether positive or negative.
  • Don’t be afraid to imitate what works, but also look out for potential gaps in the market.


Identify keywords and phrases

After looking at your target audience – and your competitors – determine the keywords and phrases that should define your tone of voice.

These should encompass your brand’s personality and will be used regularly in communications.

Be liberal in this process. Record as many words or phrases that accurately demonstrate your desired tone.


  • Define a clear list of keywords and phrases that encompass your desired tone of voice. Expect to use these regularly.


Develop a comprehensive style guide for communications

A key step in establishing tone of voice is creating a style guide. This should be referred to in the creation of all content, ensuring you maintain consistency in your communication.

Distribute this guide to all members of staff, all of whom will represent your business in one form or another. It’s crucial that everyone communicating on behalf of your brand refers to these directions.

With a well-constructed style guide, your business should have an easy-to-reference framework defining its tone of voice. Ensure that all content is created with the needs of your business and its target audience in mind.


  • Create a comprehensive style guide for your business communications, outlining your tone of voice in a structured manner.
  • Your style guide should be distributed to all relevant staff, and referred to in the design of all communications.



Before you start your content marketing efforts, make sure you have a well-defined tone-of-voice document, which clearly states what you want to say.



Still wondering how to develop your business’ tone of voice? Contact King Content for advice on how to develop a style guide.