The power of your online tone of voice

Examine how to shape a tone of voice that does more than just rank well in search engines, one that creates a genuine connection with your audience and speaks volumes in the digital world, the one that ensures your message will resonate both technically and emotionally.

Refining distinct digital communication as a work of art for meaningful engagement

No one likes to navigate the internet having to make an extra effort to understand their findings. In today’s world things are moving fast and most audiences appreciate simple expressions and relatable terms.

Your brand’s voice is one of its main attributes to give life to its mission, vision and messages. Through a consistent voice your brand evokes its personality and relates with your audience, encouraging with them a close and special connection.

The tone of voice your brand adopts online is not just a minor detail, it’s your story’s  communication, in your unique way, in the digital world. Your tone of voice echoes in every interaction your audience has with your website or online store and has therefore the power to humanise your approach to them.

So here we get serious. This is not just about the choice of words you do, this is the expression of your brand’s individuality and its values, this is what your audience receives from you since the very start of their journey within your site. 

From the abstract to your reflection

The number one goal here is to empower and educate your audience, using language that not only informs them about your products or services but also encourages them to deeply engage with your brand. Remember that the key is to communicate with them and not just to market for them. 

Be it for a formal business proposal or a casual blog post, your brand’s tone of voice should always align with the situation, ensuring that your message is not only heard but also felt the way you intend it to be. 

So let’s dive into defining and refining your digital tone of voice.

Step 1: Your core values

Firstly, outline your concise mission statement. Show your users who you are, what you care about, and what your brand does to achieve its goals. 

You can begin by answering these questions:

  • What are your company goals?
  • How do you plan to achieve your goals?
  • Who is your audience?
  • What do you want your company to be known for?

Next, develop a message architecture, essentially a collection of communication objectives encompassing specific terms, phrases, and statements. This framework serves to unify your team’s approach to all content creation and distribution.

You can start by compiling a list of 50-100 adjectives (or use a list from Margot Bloomstein’s book), and once you’ve got those sort them into three groups:

  1. Who we are
  2. Who we would like to be
  3. Who we are not

Once you’re done, focus on the words in the “Who we would like to be” section and group adjectives into categories organising them in order of priority. 

Step 2: Your tone of voice

To shape your tone of voice you can use the Nielsen Norman Group’s four identified dimensions of tone of voice and decide where your brand falls in each of these categories:

  1. Funny vs. serious
  2. Formal vs. casual
  3. Respectful vs. irreverent
  4. Enthusiastic vs. matter-of-fact

Our Tone of Voice

At the heart of our brand lies a commitment to an empathetic voice that resonates through every piece of content we produce, from the vibrant language on our homepage to the straightforward clarity of our system alerts. 

As a reflection of LightSpeed’s ethos, our tone is usually informal, though clear and always considering the receiver’s state of mind. We also have a quirky sense of humour that we combine with our conversational voice, playing with the language to bring joy into worklife. We prefer the subtle over the noisy, and we can also be kind of silly sometimes. We’re weird but not inappropriate and we are never condescending. 

Funny     NeutralSerious
Casual      NeutralFormal

Step 3: Your audience

Now it’s time to find out which social platforms your audiences use. Once you know where they enjoy hanging out online, observe how they interact with each other.

Observe their communication styles:

By tailoring your messaging to your audience’s preferred communication style, you’ll enhance engagement and build stronger connections. The more consistent your tone of voice gets through using a language they can relate to, good quality media and an appealing narrative, the more familiar it becomes for them. In time you’ll see the results are hand in hand with their trust and loyalty.

You can explore more resources that can help you define your brand’s tone of voice on Mailchimp’s establishing your tone of voice

Step 4: Your guidelines

To successfully implement your tone of voice, make sure to clearly set your brand’s guidelines. Take some notes to start creating these for the following:

  • Audiences
  • Interaction with audiences
  • Brand’s core values
  • Brand’s mission statement
  • Message architecture
  • Chosen vocabulary 
  • Vocabulary to avoid
  • Grammar rules 
  • Web elements

After taking notes, work with your content and design teams to create a full guide and distribute it through your company for consistent implementation. Make sure they have easy access to reference material and some training if needed.

LightSpeed’s statements

Our vision? To keep an eye on the future, as we continuously improve the solutions and services we provide to our clients.

Our mission? To develop excellent WordPress websites for our clients that get great visibility in search engines, while generating solid traffic and sales.

Read more about our vision and mission

Grammar and mechanics

The key to engaging diverse audiences lies in maintaining a recognisable brand voice across all communication channels, despite slight flexibility for different content consumption habits on formats like blog posts, newsletters, and marketing materials that may benefit from a more fluid approach.

Adhering to defined grammar and mechanics rules helps to keep your message clear and consistent across various content types. By organising related ideas, using descriptive headers, choosing short sentences, and avoiding unnecessary modifiers you can enhance readability and convey your specific message. Let your tone of voice lead the flow. Cut the fluff and earn the trust.

Web Elements

In web content creation the smaller elements often make the biggest impact. From alt text to navigation links each component has a particular role for enhancing both user experience and accessibility. 

You can follow Mailchimp’s content style guide for expanding information on these examples.

Our communication essentials & tips

Our aim with every content piece is not just to showcase our products but to also share valuable insights in a helpful way. We prioritise empowerment, respect, and honesty in our communication. We believe in the power of being flexible and occasionally bending the rules for a more engaging and accessible message. 

The LightSpeed team has been in your shoes, through the maze of marketing tech and its jargon. We understand small businesses because we were one not so long ago. We can relate to your passions and challenges directly and we choose to speak in a warm, familiar, and accessible way. To strike a balance between being professional and having an approachable vibe, we like to adapt our tone to fit different contexts and platforms. 

The key? Really getting your topic’s grip and expressing it in a way that is as easy and straightforward as a good chat over coffee can be:

  • Be considerate and inclusive.
  • Avoid dramatic storytelling and grandiose claims. 
  • Focus on your real strengths.
  • Put yourself in the other’s shoes.
  • Build up your relationships with interactions.
  • Treat everyone with the respect they deserve. 
  • Never patronise. 
  • Use an active voice. Avoid passive voice.
  • Use plain language with no slang/jargon.
  • Choose positive language over negative.

Ah! And while doing all of this, prioritise a hierarchy of information. Always remember your audiences also have other things to do, like we all do, so they will appreciate transparency and simplicity on their search results.