Could your customers pick you out of a line-up? I don't mean your face, but the way you sound online. Do you have a distinctive tone of voice? If someone tried to impersonate your brand, would people think that it didn't sound like you?
This is something I was thinking about after seeing a Facebook scam—you know, one of those ones that wants you to like, share, comment and probably click on a dodgy link and send them your personal details. It was an account pretending to be Iceland (the supermarket, not the country) and thousands of people had shared it. I knew right away that not only was it not Iceland but also that it wasn't a corporate account at all. Not just because of the name of the account and the poor quality profile picture but also because of the way the post was written.
It clearly wasn't Iceland, with its hastily written, run-on sentences. It was very simple, and not like it was purposefully written to be understandable for the audience. It was written like no thought had gone into it. Would Iceland really admit that "normally we would bin it all" about their expired goods? Not to mention, it's unlikely they would be linking to a "sites.google.com" page instead of their official website.
If I take a look at the real Iceland Foods page, I can see that they have a distinctive tone of voice and style. Also, note their blue tick to indicate that they're an approved account.
They typically keep their text posts short and use images to convey their offers visually. They're upbeat, make use of emojis, and clearly know their audience. (Which was previously mums but presumably now includes parents of any gender who are looking for affordable frozen food—and me when I want some lorne sausage, because it's the only place I can find it.)
Perhaps their brand tone of voice isn't so unique that it couldn't be confused for a similar brand, but there's a stark difference between their real posts and someone trying (badly) to impersonate them. There's also a difference between their tone of voice and other supermarkets. Take Tesco, for example, who typically write slightly longer posts and have a slightly less excitable tone of voice.
Of course, there will always be people who fall for scams. There will always be scammers who play on your emotions, whether it's tugging at your heartstrings or trying to make you panic. And a lot of people just aren't very good at reading different writing styles. Many people can't even tell whether it's really their own child or a scammer texting or emailing them to ask for money. If you're a small business, it's also much less likely that you're going to have some scammer try to impersonate you too. It's much less of a concern if you're not Iceland. However, the more your customers know you, the easier it will be to protect them and your brand.
Developing a distinct tone of voice helps your brand to stand out. It's a way to connect with your customers and make your brand more human. Your brand tone of voice, along with the rest of your branding, can be one of the reasons people are drawn to you over other options. Whether you set a more formal tone or you want to be more friendly, casual or even humorous, it's all part of your brand image and personality. Your customers can come to recognise you and hopefully distinguish you from other brands (and potential impersonators).
What's your tone of voice like? If you don't know, you should work on nailing down how you want your brand to come across.