Years ago, when I rocked braces and actually tried to dress up for school, I sat in the back of my high school English class pouring a textbook entry about “Tone”. From that point on I’ll admit I never fully understood it. Last week I found myself in the same exact boat while learning about Social Media Audits.

Sure, I can tell you the definition of tone no problem but what does it really mean? Lucky for you, I’ve researched it a bit; I found that tone is one of the easiest concepts to understand. I’m going to blame my confusion on the fact that we were looking for the tone in old English poetry. As beautiful as it is, nobody really KNOWS what is going on.

Anyway, tone is how you say something; not necessarily what you say. For example, remember when you would say something to your mom and she would tell you to change your attitude? That was tone! Whatever message you were trying to convey could have been said in a different way. Your tone made her think you were getting sassy, even though you might not have been.

To a company, the tone they exude can make or break their relationship with customers. Let’s say Company A wants to appeal to the middle class housewife. Their tone should probably be more conversational and trendy in nature.

Now, let’s say Company B wants clients who are very “hipster” and are 18 to 24. Company B should not use a professional tone. Instead, they should be more informal and maybe even use some slang.

The tone a company uses should be consistent on all their platforms. Everything from their Facebook account to their emails they send out should have that tone. They can’t expect to gain loyalty if they aren’t loyal to what they are presenting.

Lets pretend Company B suddenly decides make a huge campaign to market the launch of their new coffee product. Unfortunately for them, they also decide to go against their uniform tone. This new campaign is strict business and its personality is all off. The CEO is surprised to find that all their hard work is failing. We, the PR practitioners, are not. After all, we know how important a company’s tone really is.

It amazes me now how difficult I found this simple concept all those years ago. I guess poetry can do that to you because as it turns out, tone is so easy to understand.