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Voice and Tone are the building blocks of content style. To help shape that style, it's important to establish your voice, and tone. You may be building a new experience or reshaping an old one. If you're starting from scratch, the voice is yours to create. Ask yourself, or your client, what defines your brand. Make a list of brand attributes, these will help shape your style, so will your audience. Make a list of key characteristics. You need to know who you're communicating with in order to meet their needs. Now, you can brainstorm a starter set of voice adjectives that reflect both your brand and your audience.
These adjectives will evolve into your content voice. It can also be helpful to list what the voice isn't. Defining voice in is, isn't pairs, provides additional examples that help content creators express a common voice. Say you're building a site for college students to share videos. You know your Brand is original, curious, and funny. And your Audience is young, social, and daring. You also know that your Brand isn't passe, dull, or boring.
Use these descriptions to guide content development. Periodically check whether the content you are creating matches the voice adjectives you started with. If it hasn't and you feel the content satisfies both brand and audience needs, then you'll need to revise your adjectives. For the video sharing site, it turns out the content is better described as adventurous, rather than funny. Now, you have an emerging voice that works well with both your brand and your audience. If you're reworking an existing source, the voice is already there somewhere.
It's likely muddled, buried, or plain confusing. You still need to define your brand and audience and create a set of voice adjectives. Instead of creating content from scratch, you're evaluating whether the current content matches the adjectives. If it doesn't, then you'll need to rework it to reflect the voice, or you may need to update the voice adjectives to match the content. Once you've established your voice, you can shape the tone to match different contexts. You shape the tone by examining your audience profile, subject matter, and desired outcomes. The audience profile is characteristics that make your audience unique and draws it to your experience.
Subject matter is what you are trying to communicate. Desired outcomes are what you hope the audience does with he content. Let's look at shaping tone for a computer retailers website. Our audience is interested in technology or just needs a computer. The subject matter is computers and the desired out is a completed purchase. The contents tone should be informative with a broad range of product information that gets more technical the deeper the customer digs. It should be confident, projecting that this retailer's computers present the customer's best choices. And it should entice the customer to enter, and complete the purchase cycle. Together, voice, and tone comprise content style. What you should document in a style guide.
For a detailed look at that process, see Creating Style Guides, later in this course. For now, remember that content style, is the embodiment of voice, and tone.
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