Creating advertising that hits the right tone is critical. The stakes are even higher when your audience is on edge due to an event as disruptive as the Covid-19 pandemic. Fortunately, there are some tips and tricks that can help you stick the landing and find a fitting approach.
In this article, we’ll discuss why tone is so crucial to effective advertising. We’ll also give you four do’s and don’ts to help you adjust your take on this element while staying true to your branding. Let’s get started!
The Importance of Hitting the Right Tone in Your Digital Marketing Campaigns
The tone of your ads and other marketing content can go a long way towards showcasing your brand’s personality. It creates consistency across your campaigns and contributes to the all-important element of digital storytelling.
Through your tone, you’re giving your audience an impression of how you want them to view your products or services. Perhaps more importantly, it can also send a message of how you view them.
Brands are expected to ‘read the room’ with their tones – you don’t want consumers to perceive you as taking advantage of a negative situation, or going too far in the other direction and ignoring it completely. Failure to walk this tightrope can result in backlash and a dip in sales.
However, brands that get their tones just right can connect with their audiences in remarkably personal ways. If you can meet them where they are while taking the current cultural atmosphere into account, you may be rewarded with a deeper customer connection and enhanced brand loyalty.
4 Do’s and Don’ts for Hitting the Right Tone in Your Digital Marketing Campaigns
Finding a tone that matches both your branding and the current moment can be tricky. We’ve rounded up four do’s and don’ts to help you strike that perfect balance, particularly while the Covid-19 pandemic continues.
1. DO Utilize Your Influencers’ Community Ties
If you’ve worked with influencers in the past, you’ve probably already invested a lot of time and effort into finding the most effective partnerships for your brand. You can maximize your returns on that investment by involving them in assessing your tone.
Influencers are valuable because they have close ties to their audiences. This is especially true for micro-influencers, who have smaller followings and narrower niches. Consider consulting with these thought leaders to discover what tone their followers are looking for.
Take a recent post from micro-influencer Sensational Finds. Their content features a can-do attitude, making the most of a difficult situation with the help of their sponsor, Ross:
You can get the most out of these partnerships by setting up frequent check-ins with your influencers. These are opportunities to guide them towards your ideal tone so that your brand identity comes across in their content. At the same time, you can learn what approach works best in their corner of the internet.
2. DON’T Make Assumptions About Your Audience
It’s probably safe to say that no two people have had the same experience during the pandemic. Making assumptions about your audience through your tone might actually limit your reach.
For instance, if you strike a tone that implies your audience is upset, you could isolate those trying to stay upbeat. Instead of zoning in on specifics, it might help to focus your tone on broader concepts that a lot of people can relate to in the current climate.
Buffalo Wild Wings hit the nail on the head with its encouraging #SportsLiveOn campaign:
The tone of this campaign was lighthearted, entertainment-centric, and gave the restaurant’s audience the single unifying concept of sports to rally around. Plus, the use of home videos helped create a sense of community.
#SportsLiveOn maintained the typical fun approach of Buffalo Wild Wings without ignoring the pandemic. By skipping assumptions altogether and focusing on its audience’s common interest, a single, broad focus made for an effective ad campaign.
3. DO Let Your Tone Evolve
The unfortunate truth is that the pandemic has been ongoing for more than a year now. Most people feel differently about it now than when it first began. Try to take this into account and adjust your tone as necessary.
A helpful source of data on the current climate is social media. Check your brand’s followers to see their current mood, and try to take it into consideration when you’re deciding on what tone to hit:
A good rule of thumb for this process is to default to your go-to tone, and reassess when making a new ad. Try to avoid dramatic changes that can give your audience whiplash and instead focus on small, natural adjustments.
Following global news can also help with this. For example, an ad with dire tones in the wake of the optimistic vaccine announcements might be off-putting to some. A campaign that worked well in January might not do the trick in February.
With this in mind, consider producing quicker, cheaper ads rather than ones with long development times. This gives you the freedom to change your tone frequently and lets you follow the cultural conversation without long-term commitment.
4. DON’T Deviate Too Far From Your Usual Branding
For all we’ve discussed how Covid-19 has changed the marketing game, there’s an exception that proves the rule: some degree of consistency is crucial. You’ve probably spent a long time establishing your brand. Abandoning it by shifting your tone too abruptly will be disruptive and ineffective.
Take the ad campaign run by McDonald’s UK in 2017. As a departure from its normal playful tone, Mcdonald’s attempted a sentimental approach. It produced an ad about a child grieving his deceased father with the help of a Filet o’ Fish sandwich. As you might suspect, it didn’t go over well:
The ad was too far outside of McDonald’s established tone and made a lot of people upset. The same principle applies to your brand now.
Fifty-seven percent of advertisers believe that Covid-19 will have lasting but not transformative effects on their marketing. There’s an industry expectation that things will return to normal eventually. Look to the future and try to only change your tone as far as it makes sense given the circumstances.
Tone is one of the more difficult elements of an advertising campaign, but it’s also a crucial one. The current pandemic has only made it more vital. Fortunately, with a few key do’s and don’ts in mind, you can craft a tone that matches the current moment without abandoning your brand identity.
What direction has your tone taken since the pandemic started? Let us know in the comments section below!