When I worked with CharityComms on a guide on tone of voice, it was in response to a call for help from communications teams who wanted their charity’s use of written language to match their visual identity as a way of expressing brand values.
With thousands of copies of Perfect Pitch: linking voice and values downloaded, and a second edition out this month featuring more case studies, it’s a good moment to look at where we are now that more charities are investing in this element of brand.
In the first edition of Perfect Pitch, I highlighted the potential risk when members of the same sector start reviewing how they speak to their audiences, and developing tone of voice guidelines to stand out. It’s pretty easy for peers to catch up, and so what may have started as a distinctive way to use language becomes the norm – with everyone sounding the same.
For those developing their charity’s tone of voice, and looking for a way to sound distinctive, the challenge will be to go beyond generic descriptors like ‘warm’, ‘friendly’ and ‘positive’ that could (hopefully) be applied to any charity, and use language to reinforce what is truly particular about their organisation. As our work with World Vision UK has shown, it’s possible to claim and use language in ways that subtly reinforce your charity’s approach and what you want to be known for, as well as grabbing your audience’s attention with copy that’s warm, friendly and positive.
A great tone of voice project can also help bring together different departments and find a way to balance across audiences, messages and goals. I’ll be talking about this at CharityComms’ upcoming event Integrated campaigns: planning, delivering and evaluating.