It’s Not What You Say, It’s the Way You Say It!

In her latest article, SRS Coaching & Consulting Founder, Rachel Staggs, urges advisers not to underestimate the power of communication. According to Rachel, the actual words we use, the tone of our language, even the way in which we sit or stand when we communicate can have a big impact on the way in which another person receives and interprets what we are saying.

Business brand and personal branding make up the backbone of any marketing plan, but for advice businesses this can be a totally new concept to consider. Some are tackling it head-on, others have put it on the back burner (procrastinating) and some are just ignoring its importance entirely! But in a world where the consumer devours digital content, skim reads for the best bits, makes decisions based on emotions and trusts the word of someone else, brand tone and the use of language are too important to ignore anymore!

The way you look, the tone of your voice and the words that you use are all important ingredients when building a relationship with clients. In fact, at the beginning of your relationship these are pretty much the only things that you can be judged on, because you haven’t had time to give your prospects anything else to judge you by!

Your brand’s tone of voice is critical in terms of communicating your message and brand identity

How you and your business behave can make a real difference to the way you are viewed by your clients – a good impression can pave the way to an excellent client relationship and experience, but a poor first impression may lead to a missed opportunity, even if you are dealing with your ideal prospect. Your brand’s tone of voice is critical in terms of communicating your message and brand identity. The correct tone can help differentiate your business and position you at the right level. It can help reinforce what it is you do for clients and start building trust and credibility, even before you actually meet your prospective client for the first time.

Consider how you want to position your business to your clients and how you want to be remembered. For example, a library doesn’t want to sound unorganized, a legal firm doesn’t want to sound flippant and an accountant doesn’t want to sound uncertain. In a service-based business your brand tone and communication can make the difference between being positioned above your competitors, or below. How do you want your brand to be known? Client driven? Outcome driven? Trustworthy? Credible? How do you make sure that happens?

One of the biggest challenges advice businesses face is delivering a consistent tone of brand across all the different client touch-points. What often goes wrong is that the business fails to consider what each client interaction – be it a member of staff, compliance documentation or even just an email signature – says about the business. Some parts of the business are saying one thing, others are saying something else and then there are those that don’t say a thing! Consistency means that wherever a client or strategic business partner interacts with your business, they experience the same tone and language.

What contributes to brand tone?

There are numerous ways in which your business communicates its brand tone. It is delivered by:

  • The words used in your corporate brochure
  • The amount of text on your website
  • The images that you choose for your marketing material
  • The colours that you use for your logo
  • The style and content of videos that you create and share
  • Your tone of voice when you write your blog
  • The words used in your client presentation and the tone in which you deliver it
  • The language and tone of voice used by your receptionist (or Director of First Impressions)
  • The style of your clothes

“It’s not what you say, it’s the way in which you say it….”

Look at any top performing brand – Emirates, Samsung, Apple, Johnson & Johnson, to name a few examples – and you’ll notice the tone of their distinctive brands. What words would you use to describe those brands? Chances are, we’d all use the same words.

How to create your brand tone

  1. Live and breathe your brand – Identify your company values and what those mean to your clients and strategic business partners. Don’t just pick words out; explain what those words mean to your business. This is your business’s very own DNA. People can copy what you do but not who you are.
  2. Add some personality – This will really depend on the size of your business but the question to ask is, what type of personality does the business want? What do you want to stand for? Bubbly? Relaxed? Totally chilled?! Do you want to manifest your own personality?
  3. Note it down – Somewhere in the business should be a style guide; this is where you note down all the creative elements that make up your brand. It should include your values, mission and vision statement, the types of colours to be used, tone of voice, keywords, language and so forth. If it isn’t written down, chances are the business won’t have a brand tone and will be indistinguishable from its competitors.
  4. Accountability – If no one is accountable no action will be taken. It is strongly recommended that someone within the business is given the role of ‘brand champion’. The brand champion monitors the marketing communications of the business and ensures that they are in line with the agreed style guidelines; whether the materials are delivering the right brand tone.
  5. Just do it – Now you’ve worked out your brand tone, go ahead and write your communications plan so that you can spread your tone and attract the perfect clients to your business!

In her regular Practice Marketing column, Rachel Staggs provides insights to help advisers market their business to potential (and existing) clients.

Rachel Staggs is the founder and Managing Director of SRS Coaching & Consulting, a specialist financial services consulting firm.

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