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Each of us has a voice. This is what mine sounds like. It changes somewhat, depending on the time of day, how much I've been talking, how I'm feeling, and various other factors. But it's generally recognizable as my voice. Websites and other content resources also have a voice. That voice should be consistent and generally recognizable regardless of the context in which it's encountered. How can we define a voice? Well, it's really an expression of the brand it represents, and that expression is often defined through adjectives. For a fashion retailer, the voice might be smart, stylish, aspirational and sophisticated.
For a sports news resource, the voice might be upbeat, energetic, edgy and competitive. Looking at an existing site, you can gauge its current voice pretty quickly by identifying keywords. On this olive oil producers home page, we see phrases like, thank you for taking the time out of your busy day, we hope you'll find, and love to get feedback. The voice is meek, needy, and passive. There's nothing really promoting the company or confidently marketing its olive oil product. The home page of this art academy presents an entirely different voice. Here, we see words and phrases like passionate, join us, excited, and don't forget.
The site's voice is impassioned, assured, energetic, and conversational. Good content strategy enables you to define the voice you want, and develop the content to reinforce it. Tone goes hand in hand with voice, whereas voice is consistent and generally recognizable, tone is dependent upon context. The tone of my voice can vary wildly. If I'm angry or confused or really happy, that's reflected in the tone as well. Content functions similarly. Tone depends upon context. Think of a corporate website where the voice is authoritative, cutting-edge, slightly boastful and completely determined.
The home page may reflect a salesy tone that matches the page's marketing objective. The about us section, on the other hand, changes tone completely. Here it's restrained, factual, and slighly clinical. That's because it's sharing the nuts and bolts that bind the company together. The tone reflects that intent. Defining the voice and tone you want puts you in control of how your brand is communicated and perceived.
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