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'A rose by any other name would smell as sweet', said Shakespeare. Well it might have worked for Juliet, but how you address your clients can be poison.

I recently received an email from a merchant on eBay asking me for feedback on something I'd bought off him. The email began 'Hello Love'. As he was Chinese, I was more forgiving, but I found the informality really off-putting.

This illustrates how the tone is set from the moment you speak, or write your first words - proving first impressions really do count. How casual you set the tone really depends on who you are addressing. There is a trend to sound matey with clients in a bid to make them feel they are your friend and will therefore build rapport and make them feel more comfortable and open to doing business with you. Informality can build walls and knock them down, so think carefully where you are going to place your brand.

There is a fine line between being friendly and being over familiar. When I'm having lunch with my elderly mum I have to suppress a cringe as we are greeted by 'Hi Guys!'. For a group of teenagers or 20-somethings, a different audience, it works.

So what it comes down to is, choose a tone to suit your audience. Whether it's your content, blog, emails or letters, use a voice that speaks to your customer and enables them to identify with your brand.