Marketers, these days, can easily promote websites using social media, paid advertising, SEO, and automated marketing to reach the target demographic that will have the highest rates of engagement online. While these integrated tools are indispensable to increasing that online traffic and expanding brand awareness, it can be easy to overlook one of the most important (and most controllable) brand characteristics you have…the voice and tone of your website. Voice and tone are vital characteristics of your branding and allowing your voice and tone to be delivered off-brand via your website creates a HUGE brand disconnect for your site visitors. Consistency across all media is key. Why, you may ask?
Here is some context for you, dear reader: the average human brain is highly adept at connecting meaning with certain tones of voice. We have even evolved to be able to do this while reading text – with no audible voice necessary, we are often able to accurately glean the intentions and emotions of writers simply by reading their words. This is revolutionary! We are the only species capable of doing this, and it is one of the many things that elevate us as the leader of the animal kingdom. Yes, we come from apes. Yes, a mere 40,000 years ago, we were painting cave walls with blood and berries to make deer. But EVEN THEN! humans were capable of comprehending the tone of their storyteller’s drawings on those cave walls. And it’s only gotten better through the years.
Now fast forward to 2018. Take a moment to Google the website of a law firm. Make sure it is a professionally designed site, not a DIY job.
Notice how your brain comprehends the authoritative and legal tone of the writing – often in thick, capitalized lettering that immediately brings a gavel to the brain. The look, tone, and voice of this website is no accident; it is a purposeful and very effective reflection of who that law firm is, and positions them as an assertive and knowledgeable legal guide to all things judicially inclined. Reading the website almost feels like going to their office and sitting down with one of the lawyers of that firm, right? Perhaps now, after reading that, you might want a beer and to put your feet up. Don’t worry, the next example will be less stressful.
Let’s try a family fun center. The atmosphere at one of those locations is markedly different. Look up a website for one of these. Maybe now you’re looking at pictures of smiling, sunny children holding various instruments of entertainment, playing, and full of excitement? The website has bright coloring, and the verbiage is playful, leaving you with optimistic daydreams of melty ice-cream cones and screaming toddlers. This, too, is no accident. If professionally styled and designed, they are giving you a digital extension of their brand experience. You have now picked up their voice and tone, and you can tell what a visit to their establishment might be like from this. Hopefully, it was a positive extension of that experience, and you now might even feel like you’ve already been there, sliding down slides, eating pizza, tagging with lasers, family in tow. This is the power of website tone and voice on the subconscious (and conscious) human brain. But who writes the content to make sure the site has it right? Who knows the brand voice?
The sticky part is when the family fun center has the intimidating tone of that law firm. You aren’t going to visit the family fun center with a website that resembles the terrifying moment when a librarian shushes you. The same applies to the law firm when you’ve got a potentially stressful legal situation on your hands – you’re not looking for a playground, you want to feel safe and secure with those responsible and practical adult lawyers who know the books. It really CAN be easy to overlook what your website says to others and the tone in which it is conveyed. But in 2018, it is one of the most useful and important resources business owners and marketers alike have in creating a truly honest brand experience that will drive business, attract the right kind of new clients, and turn customers into repeat customers. It’s best to either work with a brand marketing firm who gets to know your branding intimately or write the content yourself if you have the skill and savvy to do so. After reading this article, give your own website a run-through…if the tone and voice of your website aren’t a true reflection of your brand voice and customer experience in the real world, it may be time for a website change to represent your brand more accurately.