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“Oi, you! Customer!” Getting the tone right in your copy

By 24 September 2012No Comments

Hitting the right tone in your writing is probably one of the most difficult things to master. It’s one of those things that the better you know your company and the personality of your brand, the easier it should be. However – easier said than done right?

Remember who your audience is

Never forget that everything you write is written for an audience. Your copy isn’t a diary, or a set of notes for your staff. Your copy needs to persuade your audience to buy/get in contact with you in the most efficient and appropriate way.

B2C – potential customers (public) as audience

Potential customers will have a very short attention span for your copy so you have to grab it! You need to be clear and precise, don’t waffle and try to have just one simple message on your home page (your main call-to-action from your strongest USP).

One way you can grab someone’s attention is to have creative copy which plays on the key personality of your brand. Someone is much more likely to stay reading your website if it’s funny, or personal in some way – but this doesn’t work for every business. If your brand is professional and serious you need to make your website as clear and as functional as possible. If all your customers want to know is how much you charge make sure that information is very prominent (or at least make the link to that information prominent).

B2B – potential customers (other businesses and professionals) as audience

Other businesses and professionals will be more willing to read detailed information and technical language. However, again this may not be appropriate – and if ever in doubt make everything as clear and simple as possible.

It’s all very well to say that B2B websites need to be professional (and they do) but you do have to keep in mind that if you want to stand out of the crowd you need to give that extra spark. Even though you are talking to a business professional they are still just other people with emotions and senses of humour. The trick is getting the balance right, and, at the end of the day, doing what feels right for you as a writer and businessperson.

What is your brand’s personality?

The key to writing copy that sparkles with creativity and great tone is tapping into the personality of your brand. It can help to think of them as a character, or it can just be a matter of writing from the heart.

In terms of your writing tone I think the most important questions to ask are how informal or serious you are, what your sense of humour is, and whether you are cheap and cheerful or high-end bespoke?

Then you have to ask if there are any other strong characteristics which play a large role in your brand? Are you trendy or classic? Desirable? Powerful? An underdog? Proud? Humble? Caring?

Recommended Reading: Brands with great tone

Keeping it Simple and clear

It can be hard to know what you’re reading for if you’re looking to have a clear and professional voice. Really what you want is crystal clear clarity on your USP.

Simple, sleek and professional – Apple

Clear, traditional, high-end and warm – John Lewis

Full of personality and spark

These brands really showcase what you can do creatively with copy.

Fun, funny, nature-loving and tongue-in-cheek – Innocent Smoothies

Laid back, informal, outdoorsey and high-end quality – Fat Face clothing 

Fun, hippie, indulgent- Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream

Small Business examples of great tone

Caring, trendy, high-end, social – Milgi Lounge Café

Sleek, elegant, stylish and simple – Looby Loos vintage clothing boutique

Homey, warm, elegant and friendly – The Pot Café

Want some help and advice?

Unfortunately there isn’t a one-size fits all solution to finding the right tone for your brand. If you’d like some tailored advice remember you can always get in touch with British Design Experts. We promise just advice and no hard sell.