How do you find the right tone-of-voice?

"Who do you choose to tell your message to your target audience? "

Need good text suited to your target audience? Ask Bill Murray

Blog by Steven

Any marketer or copywriter can tell you that a tone-of-voice has to suit you, your product and your target audience. To illustrate: at snack bar Marja in the Jan Evertsen there is no 'strips of potato fried on the skin with a fresh sauce of oil, egg and salt' on the menu. Just as a starred restaurant does not serve 'patatje Joppie' or 'kapsalon'. No doubt they come from the same fryer, but it doesn't suit the target market. Nor, for that matter, on Marja's wall. But how do you figure out what your tone-of-voice is?

Tone-of-voice is about knowing who you are, what you stand for as a company and what you want to project. There are all kinds of tools to find out. Nielsen Norman Group works, for example, with four scales on which you choose a position to determine your tone-of-voice. And with the model of Needscope you determine which angle best suits you based on a colour system. Red, for example, stands for powerful and strong, think Miele. Orange for friendly, like Jumbo. And yellow for light-hearted/funny, like Coolblue, which invariably uses 'boss' instead of 'director'.

Romcoms: the art of repetition

Another, slightly less scientific, but much more fun way to figure out your tone-of-voice is to spend a weekend watching romcoms. The theme is always the same. Man/woman meets man/woman, for the first hour something stands in the way of love, but in the end all's well that ends well.

The question is: who do you choose to tell your message to your target audience? The endearing Hugh Grant/ Julia Roberts from Notting Hill, the young, loose Ben Affleck/ Joey Lauren Adams from Chasing Amy, the comic Seth Rogen/ Elizabeth Banks from Zack and Miri make a porno, a serious Harvey Keitel/ Holly Hunter from The Piano, or the grumpy Bill Murray/ Andie MacDowell from Groundhog Day?

Actors as shining examples

You simply choose an example or persona that can best tell your story. But without hiring a marketing or advertising company to do so and incurring huge costs. For example, Van Lanschot has worked with Evi might have partly had Julia Roberts from Pretty Woman in mind. On the other hand, if you choose Bill Murray's character from Groundhog Day, you're going for a boorish, arrogant but funny weatherman who runs around pissing everyone off. I suspect you won't end up with him anytime soon, but it's all about the idea.

Have you worked out your persona and thus your positioning in order? Only then can the real writing work begin! But then that actually becomes a kind of fill-in-the-blank exercise. Because a trained copywriter can work out with any persona. Even with Bill Murray.

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