2020 will be remembered as the year the world changed forever. The widespread protests, the catastrophic economic impact of Covid 19 and a general shift in the public’s collective consciousness means that the landscape of digital marketing is a vastly different place when compared to just 12 months ago. For this reason, your brand’s tone of voice is critical. Demonstrating a clear understanding of the world’s current situation is essential if you want to make sure that you are connecting with your client base effectively. Here is why your tone of voice matters more than ever before in a post Covid world.
Culture itself has changed
From the free love of the 60s to the extravagance of the 80s, culture changes constantly, depending on global events. The socio-political turmoil that signalled the beginning of the 2020s is going to define the way we live and the way we behave for a generation. Adjusting your brand voice to reflect this new, uncertain, and sometimes bewildering reality is not easy but it is essential if you want to communicate with people in a way they understand. From inclusivity to transparency and honesty, the values that customers now hold in high regard are vastly different to those of previous decades. Excess is seen as wasteful, over confidence will be taken for arrogance and oblique or overly whimsical content will be viewed with a sense of bewilderment, rather than wonder. Nobody really knows how the future is going to look as this is a totally unique situation, but what is certain is that your brand voice cannot reflect the cultural trends of the past without appearing as if you have not moved on.
People are realising some traditions are toxic
In the wake of the BLM protests across the world, people are beginning to realise that certain conventions in language, design and tone are now totally unacceptable. Unfortunately, it has taken until 2020 for some sections of society to realise this, but equality and respect should be at the core of everything we do, no matter what industry we work in. Though marketing is generally far better than it was in say, the 1950s, there are still some companies who need to take a long, hard look at how they present their products. Removing any references to traditions that celebrate segregation, exploitation or otherwise denigrate people from particular genders, races or classes should be a priority for all businesses. Essentially, your brand voice should be one that can be understood and appreciated by everybody.
People Have Less to Spend
In times of economic prosperity, people are far more comfortable with things like impulse buys and little luxuries. Your brand voice needs to reflect the economic reality that your customers are going through. Though some people may still be enjoying a prosperous lifestyle, the majority are struggling. This means your brand voice needs to come across clearly and in a way that connects with real, everyday people. Even luxury brands will need to consider how their customers have been affected and may need to adapt the way they communicate. The days of aspirational living and deliberate decadence are over, for now, at least. So, make sure you’re selling your products or services to a market that really exists in today’s world, not just in your memory of how things used to be.
Fake News and Media Spin Have Made People Sceptical
There was a time when if something was in print or broadcast on TV, it was easy to make people believe it was true. This hasn’t been the case for some time but since fake news and warring media factions have been in control of the majority of information we see on a daily basis, consumers are far less forgiving of brand voices that seem detached from the real world. If you make any kind of false claims, overstate the value of your product, or suggest something that isn’t strictly true, you will lose your customer’s attention very quickly. The way businesses speak to people through their marketing content is now more critical than ever and being honest, direct, and clear is definitely favourable to sounding like an old-fashioned shopping channel ad or an opinion piece in a newspaper. Establishing trust takes time and your brand voice is central to that. Cultivate it in a way that feels organic and natural, rather than trying to reflect what other people are doing.
Word of Mouth is Losing its impact, for the first time ever
Though people are still communicating online and via the phone, the oldest and most effective style of advertising is no longer seen as the holy grail it once was before Covid 19 changed everything. Because people in many countries still can’t go out and meet each other, conversations about the amazing meal they had or the exceptional service they received at the garage are far less common than they were. This means that if you used to rely on your own reputation to do the talking for you, you may need to change your tactics if you want to survive the next 12 months. Things will gradually return to normal in stages but for now, reacting to the unusual and often confusing new conventions that are forming throughout the world is something every business will need to do if they want to survive.
The world has changed and there’s no escaping that fact. Your brand voice defines the way people understand your product, services, and your company as a whole. Adjusting the way, you communicate to adapt to the world as it is today should not be an optional extra or an afterthought, it should be a priority. It will take time to establish your new tone of voice and you may need to consult customers, other businesses and professional marketing agencies for advice, but with enough focus on this area, there’s no reason you can’t keep growing your business in 2020 and beyond.