By Melonie Curry, MBA

Do you remember the days of chilling in your room and your mom calls you and you yell WHAT? And she responds, you better watch your tone of voice or if you were in arms reach… you know how the story ended.

As communicators, it is still important to watch your tone. The words you chose to use to communicate with customers and coworkers establish your brand voice. The Nielsen Norman Group has developed The Four Dimensions of Tone VoiceThe spectrums include:

  • Funny vs. Serious
  • Formal vs. Casual
  • Respectful vs. Irreverent
  • Enthusiastic vs. Matter of Fact

Think about some of the communications you have viewed. When you log onto your bank’s website, the language is going to be very formal and serious. Health and fitness ads are usually very enthusiastic. During the Super Bowl, the commercials for Pepsi and Doritos were funny and irreverent. If you are writing a proposal, it could be formal and matter of fact. Using the wrong tone can take a very negative turn, as in Pepsi’s attempt to be aspirational by having Kendall Jenner hand a police officer a Pepsi during a social justice march.

Get a notepad and make two columns. Take a look at the vision for your personal brand vision or your company’s vision. Write down five words that describe the vision on the notepad (i.e. educate, inform, superior service, quality, funny, factual, aspirational).

Now it’s time to take a look at the tone of your communication. You can look at your website, email messages, personal bio and or social media messages. Identify the tone of five samples in the second column.

Are the tones of your communications aligning with your vision? If not, it’s time to watch your tone. Before you post or hit send, take a moment to review the tone and ensure your communications are in alignment with and promoting your vision.

Melonie Curry, MBA, is a staff analyst with ParkHouston.