A company’s tone of voice is just as critical as their visual identity. Tone of voice connects people to the brand. Tone of voice gives a company personality. Tone of voice gets people to buy products.
Take Taco Bell hot sauce packets for example. The little sayings on the mild, medium, and hot sauce packets are hilarious—even to the vegetarian or the anti-fast food eater. Taco Bell held a “Saucy Sayings” contest, picked 12 winners, published a plethora of slogans on their sauce packets, and gave the winners free Taco Bell for a year. Some popular sayings include: “Help! I can’t tell where I am. It’s dark and I can hear laughing,” “bike tires scare me,” and “at night the sporks pick on me.” This wasn’t just a contest—it was a genius marketing plan.
Any company that has stellar marketing also has a great tone of voice. Geico. Apple. Nike. People associate themselves with those brands; people get a sense of identity from them. If a person is willing to slap an Apple sticker on their car’s bumper and wear an “I’m a Mac” shirt, because they want to, then you know that company has mastered tone of voice.
Unfortunately, many application developers don’t take tone of voice very seriously. True, a developer’s app might have its own visual personality, but does the personality transfer into words as well?
There is a certain duality that exists between the use of light and space in architecture and the style of interface. Writer and director Johnny Daukes joined .Net’s Andrew Spooner produced a series of films that would “bring to life different aspects of this design paradigm.” The motivation behind the series is to help developers produce more beautiful applications.
Andrew Spooner interviewed multiple people for his film series that include, ex-British Rail creative director Tony Howard on how to approaches “the design of signage,” legendary producer Gareth Jones on the production of audio and sound effects for small devices, and modern typography mogul Erik Spiekermann on how designers and developers should approach type in the digital age. Andrew Spooner also interviewed Nigel Edigton-Vigus (Head of Copy at Blue Hive) about how brands communicate through words.
In the film, there are many tips to help designers and developers incorporate effective tone of voice into their applications. Nigel said in one of the clips, “if you met someone and were chatting to them then they just turned their back on you and walked away, that would be a very rude interaction, yet applications do that every day and I don’t believe it should be that way.”
Developers and designers should watch the film while considering the context of their applications. Give your application tone of voice—help your app stand out from the crowd. Give your users a reason to identify with you, to like you, to love you. Turn your users into your very own brand evangelist.