Content Creation Best Practices: How to Nail Your Voice & Tone

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Have you ever been on a company’s Facebook page, clicked over to its website, and then wondered if you were in the right place because it sounded “off”? The problem probably had something to do with the company’s voice, tone, or both.

Now, if you’re scratching your head wondering what the heck we mean by voice and tone, don’t worry. Below, we explain exactly what you need to know about content creation best practices for voice and tone—and how to apply this knowledge when developing content for your community.

What’s the difference between voice and tone?

When we talk about voice, we’re talking about a brand’s unique personality. It’s how you communicate with your audience, no matter the medium. When someone reads your social media content, it should sound like the same voice as the content on your website, emails, print ads, etc.

Why is this so important? Well, a consistent voice will help people remember your brand—and recognize it when they encounter it again. An inconsistent brand voice can create a disconnect in the reader’s mind. (They might even question if they’re in the right place!)

OK, now let’s talk about tone.

Tone is like an emotional dial that you can turn up or down, depending on the situation. For example, if you’re writing content about something serious—like signs of dementia to watch for—the tone will be much more somber than the tone you’d use to recap a Mardi Gras celebration.

Bottom line: Your brand voice should be consistent across all content and marketing channels. Tone will change, depending on the situation.

How do you define a senior living community’s brand voice and tone?

Developing a brand voice for your community involves two key components:

  • Revisiting your community’s mission and values
  • Knowing your ideal residents inside and out

Revisiting your community’s mission and values

Do a deep dive into your mission and values. These core principles should guide how you communicate with your audience. For example, is your brand all about providing compassionate care? Or do you emphasize a vibrant, active lifestyle? Does your community pride itself on treating employees exceptionally well since that will translate to a positive experience for your residents?

Understanding these elements will help you craft a voice that aligns with your community’s identity.

Knowing your ideal residents inside and out

Hopefully, you’ve done persona development work to understand your ideal residents—who they are, what they care about, and what content resonates with them. Your ideal residents will reveal the type of voice your brand must embody. Here are some examples to consider:

⮚      An older community that doesn’t have the latest amenities or flashiest apartments but does have an excellent, long-term staff that everybody raves about might define its voice as warm, homey, authentic, and caring.

⮚      An active adult community catering to the 55+ crowd in a busy metro area might define its brand voice as cosmopolitan, energetic, and positive.

⮚      A community focused on memory care and assisted living, where the average age of the residents is 80, might have a helpful, compassionate, and straightforward brand voice.

While tone typically depends on context, offering notes about tone strategy can also be helpful. For example, if your community offers luxury residences, and your tone is ultra-sophisticated, you might have a note indicating that content should avoid hyperbolic language or exclamation points since this would feel off-brand.

Ideally, you’d provide examples of acceptable tone and examples that didn’t hit the mark—and how to rewrite them to satisfy the tone requirement.

Where should you record this info about your community’s voice and tone?

You’ll add this information to your brand style guide (sometimes called a brand book or brand bible), which will also include information and instructions on things like . . .

✔    Audience
✔    Brand elements
✔    Brand story
✔    Brand typography
✔    Color palette
✔    Image guidelines
✔    Imagery
✔    Iconography
✔    Logo usage

This isn’t an exhaustive list, but the above are the essential elements in most brand books.

The voice and tone section doesn’t need to be long. You might provide a paragraph or two that discusses both (including lists of adjectives) followed by examples since those are critical for demonstrating the voice and tone you’re trying to achieve.

Anyone involved in content creation should have access to the brand book, from marketers to designers, full-time writers to freelancers. Encourage everyone on the team to run their creative against a simple
“voice and tone” checklist:

  • Is the content aligned with our brand’s voice?
  • Does the tone match the context of the message?
  • Am I using any verboten words, phrases, or punctuation?
  • Can I strengthen the creative to be even more on-brand?

See? It doesn’t need to be complicated. But having that gut check at every pass will help ensure the voice and tone hit the mark.

Does your community’s brand need some TLC?

Most senior living communities are treading water in the “sea of sameness,” so developing a strong brand voice can help differentiate your community. We love helping our clients do exactly that. Get in touch, and let’s talk about your community’s brand identity.

Want to dive deeper into branding, voice, and tone? Here’s more helpful reading:
⮚      Senior Living Branding Mistakes to Avoid – Senior Living SMART
⮚      5 Strategies for Powerful Senior Living Branding – Senior Living SMART
⮚      Brand Voice: What It Is, Why It Matters – Sprout Social
⮚      Creating Your Brand Voice: A Complete Guide – HubSpot
⮚      How to Define Your Brand’s Tone of Voice (+ Template) – Semrush