At Userled we realised that we needed a tone of voice guide to help the whole team create content and in-product copy, we went through a process using the Nielsen Norman tone of voice framework!
We wanted to address some frustrations we had as a team where lack of guidelines were holding us back - these were our objectives:
Brand voice is vital to a business's identity. It’s more than just a nice-to-have, it's essential. A great brand voice lets you use certain words and methods to relate to your customers and create a certain atmosphere.
We now understand that we didn’t need to pick between being casual and corporate - Userled will always have its own level of style and formality.
Writing is about connecting with your reader and communicating effectively. To create a unique brand voice, we had to consider our target market and the values they hold.
It’s an odd thing to think, but the best content creation is not just about the words on the page, it’s also understanding your voice, your audience and always aligning to your brand pillars.
As a small company, it doesn't matter what role you have; when it comes to creating copy for both content and product, everyone has to contribute.
Having a few well-defined guidelines to follow when producing content is hugely beneficial for everyone involved, as it ensures that all of the content is written in the same consistent style, no matter who is creating it. We wanted to reduce the amount of time spent creating, revising and editing content to ensure we’re always moving at pace.
So, this is what we did…
A website’s tone of voice communicates how an organisation feels about its message. The tone of any piece of content can be analysed along 4 dimensions: humour, formality, respectfulness, and enthusiasm.
The NN (Nielsen Norman) framework tells us to first map what we think our brand currently sound like to us. This is measure on a broad scale of:
An easy real life example to understand what we mean by tone of voice profile is take a simple message and writing it in 2 ways for example if we take this simple error message:
Now if we take that and keep things serious, formal, respectful and matter-of-fact, it might read like this:
Take the same error message and still keep things serious but introduce a casual element whilst being matter-of-fact and respectful it might read like this:
Both very different, but with exactly the same intent, so, we decided to run an exercise with our team to see how they perceive the brand currently…
Well, almost, but in hindsight we didn’t account for the nuances of the English language and should have made it friendly to our native french speakers - the founders of the business!
Taking the 37 tone descriptors as laid out by NN, we voted on what we thought our core pillars were as a brand and the results were great
The output was clear, with a clear unified brand outlook and 8 votes each Userled is proud to be