Watch Your Tone

Sonepar's Shoynear Morrison

July 3, 2017

By Shoynear Morrison

The importance of using the right tone within communications and marketing can be easily underestimated. Within these fields words are used to convey specific messages and meaning regarding a brand.

What does the word tone mean and how can understanding its meaning allow you to apply this literacy device?

Well… The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines the word tone as an “accent or inflection expressive of a mood or emotion, the pitch of a word often used to express differences of meaning.” Aka… tone, is the way we say something and creates emotion. Whether that emotion is conveyed as passion, anger, sympathy, etc. is up to you. You can easily convey a specific message through not just what you say but how you say it.

The way a message is conveyed can resonate well with your audience or push them further away. Today, our audience votes for great content not only with their wallets but even more so with their time. If they stay to read the last word of your ad or the last sentence of your article, or to watch the last minute of your video, then they have voted in your favour. You have successfully created a message that is worthy of their undivided attention. If it is not worthy of their time, it will not be worthy of their wallets.

The tone also determines who you are as a company. Author Ann Handley advises writers to compare their company tone with their competitors and ask themselves, “Do we sound the same?” Use your corporate tone to differentiate your company from the organizations around you.

In recent years there has been a rise of F-bombs in marketing. The reason for this is clear. The tone of the F-bomb is very direct, assertive and aggressive. Not only is it effective but it evokes a sense of authenticity. People naturally gravitate towards progressive ads that imitate the way they speak. Now, I’m not saying you have to use profanity to communicate effectively. However, changing your tone from the traditional corporate voice will aid in your fight for content consumption.

The tone brings the element of emotion to your writing. It is a natural part of your rhetoric and will help you persuade your audience. Therefore, the tone of your message does not have to stop within the realm of print. The tone within a video is just as important as it is within an article. Portraying a specific tone in a video is imperative to conveying your message. Using music is a great way to enhance one’s tone. Assign music a specific role as one would assign a role to an actor.

Every writer will have their own technique but here are few suggestions to get you started.

  • Allow your passion for content creation to naturally transcribe into your work. It may be hard to find a personal passion about every topic that you write about. However, the idea that there is a larger audience waiting to consume your work should spark some form of excitement into you.
  • Use punctuation to your advantage! Some of the best signifiers within writing are the commas, question marks or exclamation point to help intensify emotion.
  • Add quotes when possible. This is a personal favourite. Nothing is more humanizing than reading a quote directly from an individual. It allows you to insert an additional voice into your piece and use the tone of another individual to support your message.

Whether it’s through music, punctuation or quotes, there are an abundance of ways to apply the right tone in your message. Ultimately, It’s your responsibility to understand your audience, content and brand in order to convey the right tone effectively.

Shoynear Morrison is Communications Coordinator, Sonepar Canada;

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