Verbal Branding: Tone

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Part of developing a client’s verbal brand is figuring out the voice, tone, and mood they should use when writing. But what exactly are voice, tone, and mood? In this post, we’ll look at the notion of tone.

Compare:

        I appreciate you taking the time to meet with me.

vs.

        Thank you so much for your willingness to meet with me.

vs.

  It was great to meet you – hope to see you soon!

What’s the difference?

Tone.

Compare:

       I am opposed to injustice and sincerely committed to fighting against it through my daily work.

vs.

        I hate injustice. I fight it every day. That’s my job.

What’s the difference?

Tone.

If voice is the attitude an author has towards the world as a whole, then tone is the attitude that the author has towards the little corner of the world they’re talking about right now. Your tone expresses how you feel towards whatever you’re writing about today.

Everyone knows you don’t use the same tone to express your condolences as you do to congratulate. You don’t use the same tone to issue a command and request a favor—or else someone might insist, “I don’t like your tone!”

But tone can be even more subtle than that. Without noticing it, your tone can reflect whether you’re confident or uncertain, too hesitant or too pushy, open or closed to disagreement, being honest or stretching the truth.

Compare:

         I’m looking forward to hearing your thoughts.

vs.

        It will be good to hear what you have to say.

How do these make you feel different? What story do you imagine is going on in the background when you read them?

Why do subtle differences like this matter to us? Maybe it’s because they’re harder to fake. It’s easy to say “I’m excited!” – it’s much harder to sound excited when you aren’t.

Does something make you delighted? Don’t just tell us how “delightful” it is – express that delight in your tone. Does something make you mad? Don’t just tell us it makes you mad – express that anger in your tone!

Knowing what tone you should write in – what attitudes your brand takes towards different subjects – requires knowing the larger story that you fit into. Are you the little guy taking on goliath? Are you the stable rock in the midst of shifting sands? Who is the good guy, and who is the bad guy? Who are you to your clients?

What tone do they need to hear from you?

 

Read Parts One and Three of this series on verbal branding.

 

Photo courtesy of lovelornpoets