The tech brands getting tone of voice right

Back in the day, B2B tech companies were often known for using formal, jargon heavy language that was difficult to digest. Thankfully here in 2021, we’re beginning to see more and more tech brands get it right, with brand language that neither bores nor patronises their young digital native audience. So what can we learn from these hi-tech trailblazers? Take a scroll with us…

Intel Inside 1991

Complex presented simply

Smart tech brands don’t dumb down their language to simplify information. They know their audience are clever enough to understand the tech. The trick is not to complicate the complex. A famous example of this is when Intel launched its microprocessor in the 90s. Rather than go into detail on what made it tick, it introduced the slogan ‘Intel inside’ [Intel: Because all you need is an idea and Intel Inside® to go off and do something wonderful]. The tech smart audience already knew all about the DNA of the processor and could appreciate how its presence made things simple. By not unpacking the complex, it remained impressive, not complicated.

Intel Inside 2020

Skip forward a few decades and they’re still getting it right. Click on a processor from the homepage and you instantly get a summary of the benefits it can bring to you, a tech savvy user, but without extra complicated jargon or unnecessary boasts.

Cut the clichés

Overused marketing terms, jargon and buzzwords are just fillers not thrillers. Phrases like ‘innovative solutions’ and ‘seamless communications’ mean nothing and add nothing to your brand. Instead use precise and original language to hit your brands tone on the head. A consistently great example of this in action is Mailchimp. ‘Marketing Smarts’ isn’t a generic term, it’s Mailchimps original way of talking and it stands out all the better for it.

Don’t patronise your audience

Millennials are the most digitally savvy colleagues, competitors and audiences yet. To understand them, involve them. A great tip from Tiny – a content tool provider – is to not overlook developers’ storytelling powers. They fully understand the tech, so get their input into the marketing side of your business and you’ll have a better chance of engaging a tech savvy millennial audience who can see through standard marketing tricks. As Ben Long from Tiny says

“Developers can share their lived experience and provide real examples, which is not only engaging to the audience, but also leads to more original content.”
–Ben Long, Tiny

SquareSpace chatbot tone of voice

Another brand that deserves a mention here are Squarespace. Their customer service bots use helpful honest language that doesn’t try and trick in-the-know developers into thinking it’s human – and it’s all the better for it:

Monzo tone of voice

Words + Actions

Finding the right language for your brand is good, but when you back it up with brand actions it’s mighty powerful. A brand with strong beliefs that isn’t afraid to show it is Monzo. They aren’t just saying things differently, they’re doing things differently too, with a bright zingy bank cards and innovative pots of money to manage more easily. They believe strongly that banking should be seen from a customer’s perspective and they live their tone as well as speak it.

Image source:Monzo tone of voice

Promote the value you add, not just the tech you have

At first, the success of a tech brand was all about the innovative products it offered. Now, with advances in technology and the market saturated with both start-ups and giants, cutting-edge tech is expected as standard. So major on the value YOU bring to clients by using the tech, not just the tech itself. A recent experience we had of this was working with Bristol Web App design agency Unfold, previously called Haio. After examining what makes them tick and keeps their customers coming back for more, there was a Eureka moment. It was their ability to spot potential in their clients and unpack that by applying first-class tech that made them truly unique. Their perspective shifted from talking about the products to talking about how they could accelerate business growth for clients. And to back up this shift in focus, they rebranded with a new name that articulated their process. Now for Unfold, adding value is front of mind in every conversation, business lead and comms.

Apple messaging

Personal is powerful

One screen = one person. You’re only ever communicating with one human being so make sure it sounds that way. Apple have always used this tactic and it always feels fresh.

Add character

From the start, Slack have been adding a playful tone to all their copy. Whether that’s loading messages, bug fixes or customisation, even micro-copy is injected with personality. Unlike some tech brands, they don’t hold back and the result is a reputation that builds on their promise of making comms simpler and more fun.

Even their technical updates are fun.

UX tone of voice

Make TOV part of the UX

All tech brands want to achieve a good user experience. A key ingredient in that should be tone of voice. But what’s important for UX is at what point the user is entering the conversation and what mood they are in. Rhiannon Jones, content writer at Deliveroo lays out tone of voice on a scale depending on the user’s mood. A purchase fail message towards the end of an order will likely induce anger and require an honest response, but a push notification update when your food is nearly ready will provoke happy feelings and permission to flex your playful tone. Find the feeling, find the tone:
(Image source: How to Use Voice and Tone in UX Writing)

Involving copywriters at kick-off UX meetings is therefore important to help lay the groundwork with the design and product teams. It can be the magic seasoning to help perfect a personalized experience that really speaks to the user.

Strong roots, healthy shoots.

And of course, one that we can certainly get behind – make sure your brand foundations are strong. No matter how good your writer, without purpose, vision and direction, a tech brand is just another tech brand. But we can help with that. For expertise in redefining and positioning your brand, finding your essence and running with it, give The Co-Foundry a call.

Author: Nicky Roberts, senior creative, copywriter, scriptwriter and tone of voice mentor

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