Content Creation

3 Tone Lessons from Marketing’s Top Brands in Content

In marketing, how you communicate a message is just as (and sometimes more) important than what you’re communicating.

The more empathetic the message, the more effective it will be.

Voice and tone are often used synonymously. But they’re actually two very different things. Brand voice should never change. It’s incorporated into the company DNA, just as your voice is a part of your own DNA. Tone shifts based on audience and context. Just as you wouldn’t talk to your boss in the office the same way you talk to your friends at happy hour.

The 50 best brands in content have a lot of great examples of how to use tone to maximize your marketing efforts. Here are three of our favorite lessons from that group:

1. Know Your Audience

mailchimp masters the art of tone in content

The Company: MailChimp

MailChimp does a great job of identifying their audience in different contexts and scenarios for their brand messaging.

The Place: MailChimp.com’s “Support” Section

MailChimp is known for their fun—and sometimes cheeky—brand personality. But users who want help with the product aren’t looking for witticisms. They’re looking for answers.

The Tone: Professional, Succinct, Helpful

MailChimp’s “support” section is filled with valuable, concise content that highlights quick answers, tutorials, FAQs, and other information that customers looking for product support would need.

2. Be Actionable

hubspot masters the art of tone in content

The Company: HubSpot

Marketers these days are saturated with how-to guides, whitepapers, reports, and presentations. HubSpot bucks this trend by offering actionable assets that provide value to marketers right now, instead of insights that might provide value sometime later.

The Place: HubSpot’s Marketing Resource Library

HubSpot’s marketing library contains all of their helpful assets in one easily searchable place. Users can filter by both topic and content type, allowing users to find what they need fast.

The Tone: Proactive

If you want theoretical musings on the meaning of marketing, HubSpot is not the resource for you. Marketers looking to implement helpful tips, strategies, and templates into their workflow immediately will be thoroughly satisfied by their thought leadership.

3. Be Human

farmers insurance masters the art of tone in content

The Company: Farmers Insurance 

Insurance can be complicated, technical, and overwhelming. The human tone Farmers Insurance brings to their content empowers their visitors to take control without feeling out of breath.

The Place: Farmers Inner Circle

Farmers Inner Circle breaks down each insurance option in a digestible way. This is a brand that knows that users coming to this site are interested in a friendly, bare-bones overview for what their insurance options are for various aspects of their very busy lives.

The Tone: Clear, Useful, Easy to Digest

Hitting the right tone is all about asking the right questions. Namely:

  • Who is my audience?
  • How much information do they need?
  • What’s the context?
  • What’s the appropriate amount of brand “personality” to employ here?
  • Is this content too technical? Not technical enough?

Sometimes the best way to learn is by mimicking what works for others. Good thing we already have some excellent examples to follow. Take a few notes from MailChimp, HubSpot, and Farmers Insurance, and you’ll be on the right track.

Liz O'Neill Dennison

About Liz O'Neill Dennison

Liz is a former Content Marketing Manager at Kapost. She's psyched about human-friendly content, beekeeping, and playing outside. Reach her at @lizkoneill.