How Easy to Understand is Your Marketing Content?


tone-of-voiceDo you sometimes get bogged down when writing your business’ or organization’s marketing content? Is it filled with jargon or technical information?

There’s an answer for you… Cut it out!

When your marketing language is difficult to understand, and only “insiders” know what you’re talking about, you have a big problem.

“Language is how customers get to know you. If what you’re saying as a brand strikes the wrong tone, is inconsistent or difficult to understand, it’s going to affect how they feel about you. Worst case scenario, they might just give up and go elsewhere,” said Anelia Varela, U.S. director of The Writer consultancy.

The Writer consultancy recently released key findings from a new study of Fortune 1000 companies in the U.S. revealing that more than 80% of the businesses surveyed have no formal tone of voice (or what some call “verbal identity”), and 94% of these have no intention of creating one. And yet, 80% of early adopters of tone of voice say it’s just as – or more – important than their brand’s visual identity.

So, what IS a brand’s “tone of voice?”

According to Nicolas Cage in a recent Inc. article, “Every brand has a brand voice.  Every sentence on your website, every adjective you use, every e-mail you send and package you ship and PDF you provide for download creates this voice–whether it be through the words, the imagery, even the colors you’ve picked for your brand. It all comes together to create a ‘persona,’ and that persona helps the consumer make a decision. Do you relate to them? Great. They’re sold. And if you don’t, they move on.”

I’ll also add this from my book, “Your business’ brand tone of voice should realistically reflect its brand personality in all its marketing communications.” (Excerpted from Beyond Your Logo: 7 Brand Ideas That Matter Most For Small Business Success, ©2015)

The businesses that have embraced tone of voice see it as an effective marketing tool and brand identifier. The study shows that those with a tone of voice are using it nearly everywhere, with eight out of ten businesses saying it’s reached most or all functions in their organization.

“For some companies, we’ve seen the ROI reach 10:1,” added Varela, “but most U.S. companies don’t even know that a tool like this exists. They’re just not thinking about their language and the impression it creates.”

According to the study:

   > Only one in five U.S. businesses interviewed had a tone of voice. 70% of them claimed it was just as or more important than their visual identity and 96% said they would invest in it again

   > 84% of companies with a tone of voice said that senior management recognized its value and business benefit

   > Average time since adopting a new tone of voice in business communications is four years, usually for the first time – making it a relatively new business tool

   > Only 14% of all respondents dismissed tone of voice as unimportant

   > Companies with a tone of voice said the top three “triggers” for its adoption were: (1) The need for fresh corporate identity or rebranding; (2) Repositioning the brand; and (3) Initiative from a new CEO

Whether you’re writing for consumers, business buyers, donors, clients, or students, your brand’s tone of voice will impact their decision-making process. Even when marketing to scientific, technological, and healthcare audiences, there are ways to incorporate your “technical speak” with a defined tone of voice.

So… what’s your brand’s tone of voice?


  1. Hey Elaine,

    I use to hate reading content that I needed a dictionary or have to keep googling to figure out the jargon within it.

    I work in IT, and when a user wants an explanation, I try to explain it from their point of view and gradually add the technical jargon into my explanation without overwhelming them.

    I think the key is to get your audience to talk about their experience or do some research on your target audience experience so that:

    a. They know that you’re aware of them problems
    b. You write content that’s going to keep them engaged based on their issues
    c. As you’re explaining, you can educate them on the jargon
    d. Present them with the solutions

    This actually starts off with tone, or your style of how you convey your information to your audience.

    You introduce yourself to those who are knew to who you are and you become recognizable for those who already know you.

    This makes it easier for your audience to grasp what you’re saying, engage without feeling inadequate, and be also grow a loyal following for yourself.
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  2. A well defined tone of voice should define the brand’s persona. A brand’s voice readily helps in selling the market in decision-making.

    I like the thoughts of Nicolas Cage . It captures the whole essence of brand persona with regards to improved conversion.

    Therefore, embracing a formal tone of voice should be a priority for any brand that will make good impact with capturing audiences’ attention in their contents.

    This brand identifier is a tool that must be in the content marketer tool box.
    Sunday William recently posted…Which is Better For Improved Conversion – Changes In Content, Design Or Both?My Profile

  3. There is need to understand what every industry is saying at a particular point in time. Anything devoid of this is a waste of time.

    Marketers needs to embrace a particular style of doing things, and this must include communicating with a formal tone of voice. This will enable visitors and listeners to acknowledge the brand in all its entirety.

    I guess the survey discussed above gives content marketers or brands reasons to start giving importance to “tone of voice” as a way improving content conversion.

  4. Without a clear cut voice, branding will not be perfected. It helps for cool decision-making process and it would be important for consistent branding.

    A well defined voice for a brand encourages trust which is vital for rewarding brand’s call-to-action.

    I ensure that my brand is consistent with its style of content and also of the context in which it is communicated with client.

    Understanding marketing content is very important!

  5. Hello Elaine,

    I didn’t previously think of a tone of voice for brands, but what you are saying makes sense.

    I am in fashion, so my content should show that, right?

    The stats you provided are very revealing.

    One quick correction, I think you meant Nicolas Cole, not Nicolas Cage 🙂 I clicked through to read his post and noticed that.

    Thanks for this post.
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  6. Hi Elaine!

    Having your own “Tone of Voice” is very important when it comes to marketing with Content.

    It is also important pay close attention to your audience and the way they react to your current style of writing (and tone of voice if you are using one).

    By paying close attention to your readers, you can learn more about how to craft the best content for them, in the right tone of voice, for ultimate results.

    You know, it’s interesting that I come across this post right now – and earlier I left a very long comment on someone’s post (here on kingged) that was recommending to use Robots and Software for Content Creation. LOL 😀

    I wonder, what is your take on outsourcing your content to robots and software?

    In m opinion, that is the worst thing you can do!

    The type of content a robot will be able to create has not character, no real personality, and no tone of voice of course. Just thought I would mention this. 🙂

    Anyway, you are right with your tips here. And those statistics you are sharing are very interesting as well.

    Thank you for sharing this, Elaine! 😀

    Keep up the great work!

    Have a fantastic week!
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  7. Hey Elaine,

    Having a voice in content is not an option. It is a necessity for successful branding. Marketers must come to terms with the fact that their voice not only gives them identity but it also engenders trust and credibility. These are needed in successful online marketing!

  8. Hi Elaine,

    It becomes very crucial that tone of voice be instituted for online success.

    How easy it is to understand a brand’s tone of voice will depend on how easy the brand has made its words to be persuasive for decision making.

    I agree with all of the insights you have shared in this post. They would help a brand to be specific about its voice and increase same for online success.

  9. Hey Elaine,

    With this post, you have expounded on the need to embrace tone of voice in online marketing.

    It is a concept worth following and we must all insert it in our marketing themes so that success becomes easier!

    Establishing the right tone of voice inspires brand credibility and authority which engenders trust!