Are you exposing your communication strategy to unnecessary risk? Read this thought piece by Life.io to understand how user-focused platforms can help your team safe guard your communication strategy with effective use of voice and tone.
Have you considered the importance of shaping your brand voice and tone? If not, your communication strategy is not yet complete. These are words that seem easy to define, but to a product-driven company, can be equally puzzling to apply, especially when working with partners. Pair that with a product that spans across regions, maybe even countries, and that task can become suddenly daunting. For it is within these words that come the hardest values to uphold: trust, consistency, reliability. In this thought piece, Life.io welcomes readers to discover why understanding voice and tone is critical to successful engagement strategies when entrusting your audience to a white-labeled, partner solution.
April Jo Murphy, a Ph.D from the University of North Texas and non-fiction editor of the American Literary Review, believes that the source of all conflict comes down to one thing: miscommunication.1 Miscommunication can take form in a myriad of ways as it embodies all types of language – visual, written, physical, and of course, verbal. Break those down even further and you are faced with millions of opportunities to positively (or negatively) communicate your intentions to your intended audience. No matter what the communication platform, voice and tone are largely responsible for the success – or lack of success – of the message you seek to convey.
Aren’t voice and tone the same thing? If there is anything to take away from this resource, it is the understanding that voice and tone are different, yet equally important to the product you are asking an audience to adopt or share.
Think about brand voice as something you can step in and out of as needed. It encompasses all communication you have with all people inside and outside of your company (email, memo, blog, tweet, logo – it’s visual and textual). Most importantly, voice is consistent. It signals to your audience that one thing relates to another, and furthermore, traces back to one singular brand. As large companies often do, brand voice can be captured in guidelines that can be shared across departments and outside agencies to ensure that all parties are producing reliably consistent deliverables.
While voice is defined and consistent, tone is malleable. It is meant to modulate based on situations and circumstances that humans experience. Tonal messages are crafted with emotional intelligence to reach a customer where they are, both contextually appropriate and with consideration of the overarching brand voice. Simply put, tone is how the reader imagines you to be like as if you were speaking to them on a personal level. Tone is human.
In this context, tone encompasses not only the words you choose, but their order, rhythm and pace. A communication from a life insurance company acts as a prime example to this idea.
Brand Name: LifeSure
Brand Voice: Friendly, Informative
“We see that you have changed your marital status. Contact an agent to add your spouse as a beneficiary.”
If a brand or agent is reaching out to a policyholder because of a major life event, a generic engagement message may come across unmemorable, or worse, distasteful. Sure, the message is friendly and it is informative, but it lacks situational awareness. Furthermore, the use of generic language makes the message seem computerized, or non-personal. If LifeSure needs to get in touch with Sam based on life-altering circumstances, an operator note is not the best strategy. Less the goal is to be ignored. Instead, consider the following:
“Hi Sam, Congratulations on your wedding! The big day has come and went and you are ready for life ahead. At LifeSure, we take care of the ones you love. Contact your agent today and add your spouse as a beneficiary.”
It conveys the same message and establishes the same action needed by the reader. The second example, however, is reflective of what they may be feeling or experiencing, making it more effective at the point of contact.
By utilizing voice and tone tactics in a consistent and dependable way, brands are creating a trusting relationship between themselves, their offering and the end-user. By living up to a consumer’s expectations, a company is visually, verbally and tactically fulfilling their promise to be a certain way as outlined from the first interaction. Consumers now have grown to actually expect that you are (for example) friendly, approachable, sensible; or perhaps, pragmatic and concise, but gentle. No matter the voice, recurring consumers recur because they know what to expect – in other words, they trust the brand will deliver on their promises.
According to a generation research study performed by Disney|ABC Television, Omnicom Media Group and Insight Strategy Group, human-centric values are increasingly becoming more aligned with how consumers are choosing brands.2 “In a data-centric world, where marketers are heavily focused on understanding audiences based on what they do and how they engage with brands across platforms, we must not forget that those audiences are made of people. Therefore, understanding what they think and feel, and how they engage with each other across generations, is equally important to connecting with those audiences.” said Jonathan Steuer, chief research officer at Omnicom Media Group.
The research highlights that now, more than ever, people are choosing brands in a similar fashion to how they choose friends.
“This is the year that brands who succeed will need to act like humans,” said Mark Taylor, Global Head of Customer Engagement at Capgemini Invent.3 A WiredInsider article summarizes the research, continuing that, “to be effective, brands must navigate the uncharted area between marketing and friendship. Messaging is a new arena for making such connections. It’s not just another advertising channel, but a means of forging deeper connections with consumers.”2
It is crucial, therefore, to keep in mind that much of this reasoning should be considered when working with partners that are overseeing communications with real live human beings. Not all of them do it well. For companies like Life.io, although the branding may come to the person, your customer, in the visual appearance of the carrier-brand, platform communications are carefully built to deliver on a promise to build deeper relationships with the individual. In other words, Life.io focuses on the customer so you – the carrier – can focus on the bottom line.
It all goes back to one thing: trust.
Just like your company, our product is chosen repeatedly by consumers based on the trust, consistency and standards they come to expect by engaging with the Life.io platform. That’s why we here at Life.io take the same amount of care across the voice and tone of our product to ensure that trust, consistency and reliability are meeting the highest internal standards before meeting with teams to incorporate their branding. Think of it this way – our engineers build a strong, durable house – the product; our communications team welcomes visitors in through user-centric messaging and content; and your team [carrier-brand] is the hero agent that sells a strong, welcoming home that encourages people to not only buy, but stay there for a very long time.
Life.io works in partnership with carriers to meet the life needs of our users by delivering content that is relatable, educational and empathic to the best of our ability. By having a strong voice and emotionally intelligent tone, the product will deliver on its promise back to the carrier-brand to be a top of the line customer engagement solution.
1. Viscosi, Ashland, and April Jo Murphy. “Creatives Meet Business.” Season 1, episode 47.
2. “According to New OMG Study, Consumers Expect the Same from Brands as They Do Friends.” Omnicom Media Group, 4 Jan. 2019, www.omnicommediagroup.com/2018/04/06/according-to-new-omnicom-media-group-study-consumers-expect-the-same-from-brands-as-they-do-friends/.
3. “According to New OMG Study, Consumers Expect the Same from Brands as They Do Friends.” Omnicom Media Group, 4 Jan. 2019, www.omnicommediagroup.com/2018/04/06/according-to-new-omnicom-media-group-study-consumers-expect-the-same-from-brands-as-they-do-friends/.