How to Develop a Powerful Tone of Voice for your Videos

Tone of Voice in Video Marketing

For anyone who is involved in digital marketing, you'll understand that a business' tone of voice is vital to successful communication. Not only does the quality and information of your content matter, but also the implied attitude. This is a simple, yet vitally important feature of marketing.

Finding and mastering your brand's voice can be difficult. There are great guides available online from ABC and Distilled that help business owners and marketers to achieve a powerful tone of voice for their business. However, when it comes to video content, the tone of voice rarely gets a look in.

A marketing team might be incredibly disciplined with the treatment of copy, but video marketing is different. The same rules for their content may not work for videos.

The tone of voice in your videos are just as important. Here, I'm going to show you a few tips and examples on how you can apply a powerful tone of voice to you videos.

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The Company as Character

The written copy about a company, who they are and what they do, is descriptive and informative. We might describe a law firm as reliable and state the particular areas of law in which it excels.

With video, things get a little more complicated. Will you film a footage of the office and your employees to document your company? Instead, will you go for images that evoke what your business does? Or perhaps, you’ll illustrate the good work of the company by filming success stories and clients' testimonials?

In other words, how do you want to portray your company in the video? If it’s not obvious what kind of role the company itself will play in any given video, the tone of your video can get confusing.

Kia's commercial illustrates and depicts their car as "a new way to roll."  Their approach is different from the usual commercials, where a car is driving through the mountains and streets to showcase their speed and stability. Here, it's a matter of your status and appearance riding in a Kia Soul, in comparison to the toaster in the commercial.

A Camera with Attitude

The legendary French director Jean-Luc Godard once said that "tracking shots are a question of morality!" That might be taking things a bit far, but it’s important to remember that the camera’s behaviour is crucial to a video’s tone.

A still camera filming from a distance, for example, can make for a slightly cold and objective tenor, but can be great if you’re working with impressive landscapes. A handheld camera is more likely to generate a casual, and even amateur tone, so this would have to be consistent with the overall campaign.

In practice, almost all videos will involve a variety of camera setups, but it’s still vital to aim for some kind of consistency. Begin the project with a confident idea of what attitude your camera is taking and go from there.

The Voice

Although most marketing sources use ‘tone of voice’ in reference to written copy, most dictionary definitions of tone refer to the quality and character of sounds. When you’re producing a marketing video, these two ideas come together through the use of voice-over. This is where the words and copy matter, as well as the resonance.

One of the first questions to ask about voice-over narration is whether the speaker will be identified. Is it the founder of a company, its director, a satisfied customer, or just an anonymous ‘voice’? In Microsoft Office's promotion video, they use an anonymous voice. It's a voice that is cheerful and easy for the ears.

Sometimes, a variety of voices may even work well together to create a powerful video. This is especially true if you're trying to raise awareness for a specific issue. Many charities or non-profit organizations have used a variety of celebrities to speak out and create a compilation video of them. For example, this is a video from Ellen DeGeneres featuring several celebrities that address the issue of bullying.

While it’s rare for a sarcastic manner to work well in these circumstances, you should be careful about going too far in the other direction. For example, a self-important or arrogant voice can be a big turn off.

That’s Entertainment

When you’re coming up with ideas for a promotional video, there’s a very strong temptation to produce something entertaining. However, you need to remember that a well-executed video doesn’t have to be entertaining, as long as it’s got other important qualities, such as clarity, consistency, and relevance working in its favour.

After all, it can be difficult for small businesses to allocate a large budget to create big commercials from huge corporations.

The much-circulated Risual promotion video was a rare success on this front. There are one or two other exceptions to prove the rule, but only follow this path if you’re really confident about the results.

Being funny is almost certainly not a priority.

A Piece of the Puzzle

It’s quite likely that the video might seem like the most exciting and maybe even the most glamorous part of a promotional strategy. Here’s the place to let your creativity run wild! But hold on… most people watching the video will also be reading the copy on your website and checking your Twitter feed. Some of them may even be talking to members of your staff over the phone or in person. Try to think about the scenario in which the videos are being viewed.

For example, if a company’s website has lots of excellent testimonials, this would be a great thing to incorporate into a short video. Create a testimonial video that can showcase your company's works in a celebratory way, rather than a promotional commercial. Perhaps, a video of one or two key clients that are already featured prominently in the company’s profile.

Virgin’s Richard Branson might be the ultimate example here. Try this approach and carry their voice into the video as much as possible.

Tone-of-voice guidelines will often remind you that it’s not just what you say, but how you say it. With promotional videos, the same rules apply.

It’s not just what you show, but how you show it. With all the logistical and creative complications involved in filmmaking, this golden rule can easily get lost.

I hope that reading this post will help you create powerful videos for your business' marketing efforts.

It's a competitive market. Contact us to learn how you can stand out from the crowd.

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