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Most of us can detect a brand’s tone of voice in traditional forms of marketing such as press ads, websites and direct mail. But when tone of voice is working at its best, it spans all forms of media, from signage to social media.

As increasing numbers of brands connect with customers through Facebook and Twitter, marketing teams are adapting to this impartial and ‘free speaking’ environment. So whether they’re promoting something, dealing with complaints or lapping up the praise, the tone of their responses needs to match the mood of the people – while still feeling like it’s coming from that particular brand.

An award winning example of social media successfully backing up a popular advertising campaign is Compare the Market.com. Featuring the lovable meerkat Aleksandr, who plays a starring role in the TV commercials, the marketing team created Aleksandr’s own Facebook profile. On here he posts regular status updates about where he is, as well as funny sneak peeks of the next ad in the series.

At the other extreme, you have social media gaffes such as the recent McDonalds’ Twitter campaign – #McDStories. This ‘tell us what you think…finish this sentence’ strategy backfired on them spectacularly as many of the tweets that flooded in were less than complimentary about the company.

Sound like you?

It sounds obvious, but the way someone answers the phone to a customer gives an immediate and lasting impression. In fact, the voice is one of the best vehicles for making the customer trust and like you – a theory used to great effect by First Direct – who pioneered 24/7 telephone banking.

Their service lives up to their motto of – ‘real people not machines’. First Direct customers experience an unscripted conversation with the adviser, so they feel like they’re having a helpful chat with a friend, rather than a faceless banking automaton.

Supermarket in-store announcements are another form of communication that often feels removed from the brand’s true identity. The current slogan might be dutifully tagged on the end of that day’s recorded promotion. But all too often dodgy PA systems impart an unnatural, tinny quality to the recorded message – which can make the message sound more like a train station announcement, instead of an exciting offer.

Signs for the times

Signage can be a useful vehicle for demonstrating tone of voice. London Underground, famous for their campaign that encouraged the reading of poems on the Tube, inspired station personnel to literally take a pen into their own hands. A Service Information board at the entrance of Oval station cheered up customers with a daily ‘Thought of the Day’, such as – Do not let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do. John Wooden.’

In short, tone of voice can be seen and heard at every point of a customers’ journey. And the written word has the power to go further than the usual commercial formats – carrying with it everything the brand has to say about itself and the image it would like to convey.

If you’re after some tone of voice advice, just drop us a line at info@inkcopywriters.com or ring us on 01225 731 373.

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Catherine Wheels, Roman Candles, Jumping Jacks –  you might be surprised to learn how some fireworks got their names.

‘The Catherine Wheel’, that staple of any good display, has origins that are far from innocent. It’s named after an infamous instrument of torture, which, legend has it, was planned as the device to martyr St. Catherine of Alexandria. On this occasion, however, it miraculously flew into pieces when she touched it. She was beheaded instead.

‘The Roman Candle’ gets its name from one of Roman Emperor Nero’s gruesome hobbies. Christians were tied to stakes around his garden and then covered in burning hot oil and... well, you can imagine the rest.

The ‘Jumping Jack’, although now banned, used to be one of the most popular fireworks around this time of year. It gets its name from ‘Spring-heeled Jack’ who terrorised Victorian England. Famed for his startling jumps, black cape and metallic claws, he would leap out of nowhere – or so it seemed – and attack unwary pedestrians.

New classics

Today’s fireworks names may not have the same historical roots, but they certainly score points for creativity. A few classics include:

• James Bomb

• Run Like Hell

• Nightmare on Your Street

• Requiem for a Scream

• Nukes of Hazard

And our personal favourite? The brilliantly named ‘Bada Bing, Bada Boom’ – which, as you’d imagine is popular in certain Italian-American neighbourhoods of New York.

If you’re looking for words that set your communications alight (metaphorically speaking) just get in touch on 01225 731 373 or email us at info@inkcopywriters.com

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From Twinings packaging copy to Scope and Ticketmaster tone of voice development... Here are just a few recent projects we’ve been working on.

It’s certainly been a busy few months at Ink HQ. We’ve been working away on an exciting new range of packaging for Twinings. They asked us to breathe fresh life into the on-pack copy for its existing core range of 21 blends – and write new copy for 23 of their new products.

The challenge was to create more inspiring and charming copy – in line with the brand’s new tone of voice, while reflecting the unique attributes of the ingredients.

The project involved getting to the heart of each individual infusion by drinking lots of tea and then writing evocative descriptions. The new packs will be hitting the shops from about November onwards. We hope you like our copy – and the teas of course!

Tone of voice development

In the tone of voice department, we’ve been helping the charity Scope to develop and roll out their tone of voice. We also recently won a pitch to do tone of voice development for Ticketmaster.

 We’re thrilled to be working with such diverse and well-known brands to create a consistent and appropriate tone for their audiences.

If you would like to find out more about our work, or would like some help with your project, give us a call on 01225 731 373 or email info@inkcopywriters.com