What can businesses learn from preschoolers about the importance of a consistent tone of voice?

What can businesses learn from preschoolers about the importance of a consistent tone of voice?

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I've got a three-year-old daughter and I remember the first time she said something that wasn't her. It was a phrase that I had heard one of her friends at nursery say before but it wasn't something my daughter had ever said. It made me stop what I was doing, someone else's voice was coming out of my daughter's mouth. It wasn't anything offensive, it just wasn't her. It’s a strange feeling, to hear someone else’s saying or phrase suddenly appear in your child’s vocabulary.

Pre-schoolers and business, you might be struggling to see the link. Just as it makes you stop when you hear your child sound like someone else it can have the same effect on people who interact with your business if you don’t sound consistent. If your website, for example, has some pages that are written in a chatty, familiar tone of voice as if speaking to a friend and others that are much more formal it can jar the reader and suddenly you don't sound so familiar.

Be consistent and make an impact

There are lots of examples out there  of brands that have got it right and consistently sound like themselves. But here’s one that I’ve come across, Dowsing & Reynolds, who sell some pretty amazing lighting and home decor pieces. I was really struck by their attention to detail when it comes to sounding consistent. Their friendly and approachable tone of voice is carried across their website, customer emails and even through to their packaging.

How can you discover your tone of voice?

The University of Leeds does a good job of explaining what informs tone of voice.

"Our tone of voice is the way in which we write and speak, what we say and how we say it. Like a person, what we say is dictated by our principles, experiences and aspirations, how we say it is informed by our personality."

Start sounding like you

Once you've got an idea of your tone of voice it should carry across everything that you do - remember how impressed I was with the parcel tape on my Dowsing & Reynolds order. Otherwise, you risk sounding like a someone else, like a preschooler, with someone else's voice coming out of your mouth.

You need to find a voice that is true to your business's culture and values and principles. Think about why you started your business, how your business works and what are your core values.

Photo credit: matsber via Visualhunt / CC BY

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