During a recent lunchtime round table we explored the importance of a brand’s voice and tone – the way customers hear, read and interpret a company’s messages.
Voice and tone, which traditionally occupies a small section of brand guideline documents, is often neglected but fast becoming an essential element for technology brands where the primary interface for interacting with customers and partners is a digital medium.
At AirShr we aspire to communicate with the same flair and elegance as Slack and Apple. And while flair and elegance are important, they come a distant second to communicating with consistent authenticity.
I think being consistently authentic demands self-awareness, humility, knowing when to celebrate and when to say “we’re sorry, we let you down”. It’s little surprise that brands communicating like this build a bank of reputation credit with its customers and users. The larger the bank of reputation credit, the more accepting people will be of missteps. Makes sense, right?
At the round table my partner Opher also reflected that a company’s voice and tone is inextricably linked to how much employees love the company they work for. And I couldn’t agree more. Without ‘love for the vision,’ companies become siloed which reduces its ability as one entity, to be self-aware, humble and ultimately authentic.
The easiest way to look for consistent authenticity is to look at the difference in communications between the good and bad times.
Remember the way Apple communicated through the Maps issues? There was a public apology and follow up actions and messages that used Apple‘s unmistakable tone and voice.
When Slack had a recent large-scale (albeit brief) outage, their updates used the identical voice and tone their users had become used to through their normal daily interactions with Slack.
What didn’t happen during these two events is a change in voice and tone when the going got tough. The net result was their bank of reputation credit suffered a negligible withdrawal.
In contrast, there are countless stories of companies making the withdrawal far higher than it needs to be for the sake of trying to ‘contain’ situations. In doing so, PR and legal teams take control of messaging at the expense of the voice and tone that has taken so long to create.
We’ve obsessed about creating AirShr‘s voice and tone and how it integrates with our brand because we want our customers and users to embrace us as part of their everyday and make them feel that they can reach out and talk to us about making AirShr awesome.
In addition to making the internal commitment to always having a multidisciplinary team to craft, refine and deliver marketing messages, we also got some help. Alex Pace and Michael Margolis (the former a qualified scriptwriter, the latter a professional story teller, both geniuses) have strongly influenced where we’ve landed because as founders we were too close to the product to determine how AirShr should be heard and understood.
Thanks to their help, we’re excited about the role that AirShr‘s voice and tone will play in developing a leap in the value of radio, for listeners and broadcasters.
So, when it comes time to consider how you want your brand to be heard and internalised by your customers, pay real attention to getting it right. It’s completely worth it.