Finding an appropriate tone of voice for your startup will immediately underline who you are and what you stand for. We spoke to Roxy Kasprzyk of One Polygon – specialists in creating captivating Virtual and Augmented Reality projects – and found out why it’s essential to research your competitors and speak honestly with your employees.
A new business is like a blank piece of paper: it doesn’t have a personality until you pick up a crayon and start colouring. Before a tone of voice is established, it is just a shapeless entity. A tone of voice sets your business apart and gives you something memorable and recognisable: a brand.
Customers need to have a thorough idea of what your business stands for and what kind of product or service they are to expect. All this is decided by your business’ tone of voice, which is a crucial step in building a brand. It sets concrete guidelines for the content that your business releases. This doesn’t just apply to the words that are used, but their order and general tone.
Deciding on your tone of voice
Think of a well-known brand, such as National Geographic or Samsung. Think of all their adverts, tweets and content that you have seen; think of what kind of employees they hire and what kind of information they provide. Does it all follow a consistent theme? I’m sure it does. Without directly speaking to you, big companies manage to communicate their values using their tone of voice. They have a clear and direct voice, which is what you should aim for.
When approaching your tone of voice, it is best to treat it like a personality. Once you think of your business as something that has values, opinions and goals, it is much easier to decide what you want your business to say and how you want it to be said. So, start by researching your own business in order to understand it.
Look at the existing contents that your business has published and ask yourself what kind of image it paints. Does it communicate the correct values? Is it consistent? If looking at your Instagram feed makes you wonder why some photos are in black and white and a few others are from a random networking event you went to in 2015, while only a small proportion show your team and product, then it’s safe to assume something is not right. This is a good start: you now have an idea of what your business did and how it can improve.
To understand your business further, talk to your employees and consider interviewing your clients about their experiences with your business. People make the business, so speak to your employees. Ask them what kind of relationships they have with others in the office and what ideas they have about your business’ voice. Speaking honestly to your employees will give you a clear idea of how your business is perceived internally, as well as highlighting what needs to be done to ensure your values are represented externally.
To create a unique tone of voice for your startup business, it’s imperative that you carry out some detailed research of your competitors. Look into the words they use on their website and blog, have a scroll through their social media and consider subscribing to their mailing list to see how they market themselves.
Specifically, look into how comfortable your competitors are with communicating to their clients. Is their content lighthearted and funny, or is it informative and wary of referring to readers in the second person? This will help you to see how similar companies have adopted their tone of voice to represent their brand and communicate their values. There are millions of voices out there, with each one trying to stand out and be the loudest. It is your job to create a tone of voice that is completely in line with your own and your business’ values and beliefs.
I work for a great startup called One Polygon, which is based in Plymouth. We create visualisations of designs in VR, but we also dabble in AR, 3D modelling and the Internet of Things. We have an amazing group of people that are dedicated, hardworking and extremely friendly. The team is the foundation of One Polygon’s tone of voice and that will never change.
From day one, I fell in love with the team and completely understood why One Polygon is doing better than most companies that operate in the same sector. A massive aspect of our tone of voice is treating our audience like members of our team, which is something that came about naturally. Vicktor and Marcin (our two fearless leaders) didn't have a meeting in which they decided to just be friendly. They were simply themselves, while the people they hired were themselves too.
At the office, we wear whatever is comfortable and there are no boundaries that may hinder our communication. The same can be seen on our social media, where we post content which is lighthearted and shows our staff going about their day-to-day tasks. We aim for One Polygon to have a very humane tone of voice.
The start of One Polygon’s journey saw a bit of confusion with its tone of voice, but at the end of the day which start up hasn’t gone through a phase of trial and error? The website was high tech and we had a small, engaged following on our social media, but our content lacked consistency and it was preventing our voice from being fully established.
That is slowly changing. If you have a scroll through our social media you will see that we are sharing more personal content about our daily lives. This is in addition to posting about what is new in VR and our business sector. We want to keep our audience as involved as possible.
So, don’t be scared of trial and error, and definitely don’t try to force it. Maybe you already have your voice hidden within your employees.
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