Creating a voice and tone guide


Corinne Resch

on 8/20/2015

What is a voice and tone guide?

It is a guideline that defines how a business will talk to their audience and a crucial step in creating a marketing strategy. These guides are used for social media, print advertising, press releases, emails, websites, basically anywhere your business has a presence. For our clients, we start with analyzing the current voice and tone. Feel like your shouting into the wind? We can help you find a more direct path.

Why are they important?

A voice and tone guide probably doesn’t need to be more than two pages, but these two pages are beneficial in creating uniform branding for your business. Once a voice and tone guide is developed this makes copywriting supremely easier and more effective. This is especially true if you have multiple copywriters.

Here at VIA, voice and tone guides are an important account management tool for us. They allow us to create content and make decisions that are consistent to the needs of each client. These guides are also a useful exercise for a business to review their values and goals.

How do I make my own?

Glad you asked.

Perhaps the most important step is to define your audience. For us, a more conversational and witty tone is the way we communicate.

Other businesses find a refined and traditional tone is the answer.

The best part is, in the world of voice and tone, both of these are correct! As long as your audience responds to the direction you take, you’re a winner.

Once you’ve got that settled, it’s time to put it in words.

Our voice and tone guide outlines:

  • We start with broader goals and objectives, this helps the reader better understand the content that follows.
  • The goals of content ensure that every piece of content has a purpose or direction.
  • For our clients, we also like to feature user goals in the form of quotes, e.g., “Looking at xyz.com makes me feel confident in my purchasing decisions because all of my options are presented clearly.”
  • And finally, personality traits. Defining traits is an easy way to communicate the way content should be interpreted.

When we redesigned our own website, reflecting our voice and tone was a huge priority. We even wrote a blog post about the journey of the redesign. In another post you can see how we made the About page uniquely us. For even more inspiration, we’ll let you read the VIA Studio Voice & Tone Guide.

Graphics by Morgan Plappert

Share to

Related Posts

Where Do We Start? The Technical Audit

By: Kim Clark on 3/15/2010

Any solid SEO program should begin with at technical audit of your website.

Read More »
VIA Studio Joins Google Apps Authorized Reseller Program

By:Jason Clark on 3/25/2010

VIA Studio today announced it has become an authorized reseller of the Google Apps suite of communication and collaboration tools. VIA Studio provides setup, integration & support services for businesses and organizations using Google Apps.

Read More »