Voice, Tone, Style and Brand
I hear you! You’re saying…voice, tone and style are writing terms. What are they doing in a business blog? Lots. Voice has to do with who you are. It’s your identity. Your music. It’s your immutable, unalterable you that shows up in your speech, but also in your writing…in your emails, your message to the shareholders, or the correspondence to the members in your club and on your website for gosh sakes! Voice is the name on your door. You are your voice. Your voice is you. The rhythm of your words, the cadence of the sentences, the word choices—they are all you. Using contractions like aren’t and haven’t will send one message. Or having no contractions in your messaging makes quite another statement. They all contribute to voice. Your “voice” defines your brand.
Ever heard of a writer with a strong voice? That’s someone with an identity that you can recognize… almost like recognizing a cartoon character by the human’s voice: Woody in Toy Story is Tom Hanks. You recognize his voice. Dory in Finding Nemo is Ellen DeGeneres. In the book Seriously…I’m Kidding written by Ellen DeGeneres, you hear her voice, not because you hear it, really, but the word choices sound just like her! Ellen DeGeneres is a human brand.
Tone defines your writing, your communication, your delivery. “Don’t take that tone with me, young man.” Oh how tone matters! Is your writing tone breezy? Erudite? Cozy? Funny? The tone of your life affects the tone of your writing, your website and um, your brand! Upbeat? Happy? Silly? Serious? Academic? Professional? Sad? Writing tone can send a company’s brand down the tubes or up to the clouds.
Style. Well. Now. That’s also who you are. Do you swagger when you walk? Or are you stiff? Think of Joan Cusack or Kate Hepburn. Switch to Audrey Hepburn. They have personal styles that transcend even the roles they play. It’s how they move, dress, hold their heads, etc. We all have our styles. As we live our lives and as we write our stories, and listen to ourselves talk, we create our style. We are allowed our styles by those around us. We are allowed our styles by the success we achieve with the style. The unsuccessful aren’t allowed that freedom. Really. Hitler—a nasty style. Successful? In the end, not so much, but during his reign, yes. The late Steve Jobs still is a style. The Pope. The President. The first Rockefeller, John D. Sr., is said to have been a tyrant. Billions of dollars later having founded Standard Oil, he found that his style was not excused but it has left a legacy. Steel magnate Andrew Carnegie was reputed to have a rough style. It’s not a necessity, but style sticks to our skin like white on rice. It’s hard to shake, unless you’re lucky enough to be brown rice at some point. Then you’re free of your old style. I’d like to try wild rice on for a day.
Trend Alert: With so much content online—on websites, Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and more—our writing Voice, Tone, and Style become our brands. Who knew that writing terms would be so important to business one day? That’s good for writers. It also means that businesses need to have great writers on staff.