Tone of Voice guide content suggestions
What ToV guidelines can achieve
Tone of voice guidelines can be used to unify and improve the writing for a brand. They can define an appropriate tone and reflect the brand’s values. If it’s right for a brand, the ToV guidelines can even convey a distinctive personality.
Guidelines can offer general advice on business writing and advice on how to write for different audiences, different media and for different objectives. Sales letters are written differently to intranet sites. You can use ToV guidelines to encourage writers to emphasise key messages and help them structure message content in the most powerful way.
With so much potential, the danger is that you provide too much detail and cease to inspire writers. But there is also a danger that guidelines can be too topline and do not provide enough guidance.
What do ToV guidelines contain?
Most tone of voice guidelines cover the topics listed below though guides vary considerably in the detail they go into:
Introduction / ToV rationale / Inspiration
- Why the way we write is important
- Encouraging writers to write well
- Advice on how to write well
- Define the brand’s tone
- Advice on how to capture it in language
Elevator pitch / boilerplate
- A sales tool and a reference for all
- Key points and support points
- When to use messages
- Before and after
- Analysis of best practice / poor practice
Writing for specific media
- You write a web page differently to a corporate brochure or a customer sales letter
- The quality of the brief and approvals process has a significant impact on writing.
- Writers need to understand their audience if they are to write effectively
- Quick reference summary
Other sources of help
- Online guide – ideal for providing updateable examples of writing for different combinations audience/medium/message factors
- Style guide – sets out conventions so all your writing is consistent
- Training - essential for changing writing habits acquired over a lifetime