I am passionate about design and making things look perfect for the client and their target audience, however, language and tone of voice is equally as important.
How many times have you seen an amazing looking website or Instagram feed but started reading it and it doesn’t live up to the promise? It’s like when you go out to eat and the restaurant that looks the part, but the food is just mediocre. Pretty disappointing all round.
For us at Spoken, we place huge importance on words and language as they have to be just as well thought out as the design itself. We work with clients to really understand their voice, how they speak and why before we even get our design hats on.
Great brands do this too and spend a considerable amount of time sculpting their tone of voice and working out what represents them and sit within their values and ethos and what doesn’t. Knowing what you don’t like is as powerful, and sometimes more so, than knowing what you do.
If you are looking to either start your business or refresh your current one and tighten up your messaging, a good place to start is with you. How do you speak? What do you react to? What gets you running for the hills? Everyone is unique and different but one thing that people want and demand is authenticity and there’s no better place to start than being true to you, as if you are trying to write or speak in a way that isn’t natural, it will come across clunky and insincere turning your audience off for good.
Get a good old-fashioned pen and paper out and make a list of words/phrases that resonate with you and your brand. If you are an animated person and brand, does this come out in your voice online? If not, why not? What’s holding you back?
When we do this work with clients, we often unearth a number of reasons why their tone of voice isn’t quite right that can stem back to issues within themselves, such as experiencing imposter syndrome and fearing that if they are fully themselves, they are opening themselves up for criticism and backlash, so opt for sounding how they ‘think’ their audience wants them to sound.
It’s a fragile entity and one that we are experienced in dealing with. I myself have struggled with really finding what is Spoken’s voice. What was a premium design agency meant to sound like? I finally realised that it sounds like me as it is me that is steering it and sculpting our voice and that is something to be proud of.
I understand that our clients are putting themselves and something that they have cherished and nurtured out into the world for the very first time. With this, comes an associated fear and a crisis in confidence and self-doubt.
As creators and their brand ambassadors, it is up to us to work with our clients to find their balance of what they are happy with and ensuring they are being true to themselves, their values and their brand. It can be a tricky tightrope at times, but we are very proud of the work we have done and the success we have achieved in creating a true, authentic tone of voice for the brands we work with (as well as some kick-ass design, of course!).
Great design and an authentic brand voice go hand in hand and when brands get this right, it is magical. So, from me to you – take the time to really find your voice, represent who you are and what you stand for and you know what, you won’t be for everyone and that’s OK!