THE BLOG

How to Make Your Brand's Voice More Meaningful

02/18/2015 05:09 pm ET | Updated Apr 20, 2015

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In marketing, how you communicate is often more important than what you communicate.

The more empathetic your message, the more effective it will be.

While voice and tone are often used synonymously, they're actually two very different things.

Brand voice should never change. It's incorporated into your company's DNA, just as your voice is a part of your own DNA.

Tone shifts based on audience and context, and has the power to fundamentally alter how people feel about what you're saying.

Imagine if you talked to a cop who pulled you over in the same tone you talk to your baby, for example. No matter how respectful your message, you'd likely enrage the officer.

How do you master tone and bring more meaning to your brand voice? Here are three valuable lessons from some of the top content brands out there.

1. Know Your Audience

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The Company: MailChimp

MailChimp does a great job of identifying their audience in different contexts and scenarios for their brand messaging.

MailChimp is known for their fun--and sometimes cheeky--brand personality. But users who want help with the product aren't looking for witticisms. They're looking for answers.

The Tone: Professional, Succinct, Helpful

MailChimp's "support" section is filled with valuable, concise content that highlights quick answers, tutorials, FAQs, and other information that customers looking for product support would need.

2. Be Actionable

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The Company: HubSpot

Marketers these days are saturated with how-to guides, whitepapers, reports, and presentations. HubSpot bucks this trend by offering actionable assets that provide value to marketers right now, instead of insights that might provide value sometime later.

HubSpot's marketing library contains all of their helpful assets in one easily searchable place. Users can filter by both topic and content type, allowing users to find what they need fast.

The Tone: Proactive

If you want theoretical musings on the meaning of marketing, HubSpot is not the resource for you. Marketers looking to implement helpful tips, strategies, and templates into their workflow immediately will be thoroughly satisfied by their thought leadership.

3. Be Human

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The Company: Farmers Insurance

Insurance can be complicated, technical, and overwhelming. The human tone Farmers Insurance brings to their content empowers their visitors to take control without feeling out of breath.

Farmers Inner Circle breaks down each insurance option in a digestible way. This is a brand that knows that users coming to this site are interested in a friendly, bare-bones overview for what their insurance options are for various aspects of their very busy lives.

The Tone: Clear, Useful, Digestible

Hitting the right tone is all about asking the right questions. Namely:

Who is my audience?

  • How much information do they need?
  • What's the context?
  • What's the appropriate amount of brand "personality" to employ here?
  • Is this content too technical? Not technical enough?

Sometimes the best way to learn is by mimicking what works for others. Good thing we already have some excellent examples to follow. Take a few notes from MailChimp, HubSpot, and Farmers Insurance, and you'll be on the right track.