Tone of Voice guides - can you live without one?


Is your brand just an empty shell?

Ninety-five percent of large organisations have brand guidelines.

These are filled with pages of information on the correct and incorrect ways to make use of brand components like logos, colour palettes, and photography.
There's even direction for the proper spacing of margins and columns. However, not all organisations have guidelines on brand voice.

Has yours? It hasn't? Maybe it should.


Finding Your Brand's Voice - More Than Just Words

Maybe you've meticulously thought through every possible iteration of your visual brand, yet haven’t incorporated your tone of voice.
In which case, your brand is incomplete.

You've crafted a beautiful shell, but it's empty inside.


What is Tone of Voice?

Your brand's tone of voice is essentially its personality.
When you define your brand voice, you're setting down in black and white how you'll converse with customers – ensuring this voice remains consistent across all your brand communications.

Here are some different Tones of Voice -

Professional - Formal, courteous, and respectful, often used in B2B, legal, or financial sectors.
Informative - Focused on providing useful information and educating the audience.
Friendly - Approachable, warm, and inviting, creating a sense of camaraderie.
Casual - Informal and conversational, often used in B2C or creative industries.
Witty - Clever, humorous, and potentially sarcastic, to entertain and engage.
Inspiring - Uplifting, motivating, and encouraging, aiming to evoke positive emotions.
Sincere - Genuine, honest, and straightforward, building trust with the audience.
Playful - Light-hearted, fun, and quirky, creating an enjoyable experience.
Authoritative - Confident, commanding, and knowledgeable, establishing expertise.
Empathetic - Understanding, compassionate, and supportive, often used in healthcare or charity sectors.
Innovative - Forward-thinking, creative, and modern, showcasing a brand's innovative side.
Luxurious - Elegant, sophisticated, and exclusive, often used in high-end or luxury markets.
Passionate - Enthusiastic, energetic, and committed, showcasing a love for what you do.
Reassuring - Comforting, calming, and reliable, creating a sense of security.
Provocative - Challenging, bold, and potentially controversial, to spark discussion or thought.
Nostalgic - Reflective, reminiscent, and evoking a sense of the past.

Which of these matches your brand?

Each tone of voice has its own place and can be incredibly effective when aligned with your brand’s values, audience, and industry.
It’s all about finding what resonates with your audience and remains true to your brand's identity.


Tone of Voice consistency is vital

However you define your Tone of Voice, you must apply it consistently.
Every aspect of your brand -

  • your website
  • social media profiles and posts
  • emails
  • in-store signage

All of these should mirror your Tone of Voice traits and craft a brand personality that consumers will recognise as reflecting your brand personality.


Shifts of nuance

While your fundamental voice remains the same, your brand tone might experience slight shifts based on the audience or the type of content.
For instance, the tone of your Twitter posts might be more relaxed and humorous compared to your LinkedIn content, which might carry a more professional tone.
Similarly, the tone in your emails might be more personal and conversational compared to a press release to media, where a polished and authoritative tone is more fitting.


Conveying your brand values

It's crucial to understand that your brand's tone of voice goes beyond merely choosing words.
It's about conveying your brand values, beliefs and identity in a manner that resonates with your audience. It's about creating an emotional connection that not only defines your brand but also differentiates you from competitors.


When developing your brand's tone of voice, consider the following aspects:


  1. Audience Awareness
    Understand who you're talking to. Tailoring your tone to suit your audience's preferences and expectations can significantly enhance engagement.

  2. Consistency
    While the tone may slightly shift as per the platform or audience, the core voice should remain consistent to build trust and recognition.

  3. Authenticity
    Your tone of voice should reflect your brand's true personality and values. Authenticity helps in building a deeper connection with your audience.

  4. Feedback and Adaptation
    It's always best to gather feedback on your tone of voice and be willing to adapt. This helps to ensure that your brand voice remains relevant and engaging.


Tone of Voice - not an afterthought, but a necessity

Having a well-defined tone of voice integrated into your brand guidelines shouldn't be an afterthought - it's a necessity. It’s akin to giving your brand a soul that resonates through every interaction you have with your customers. In a crowded market, having a distinct and consistent tone of voice can significantly contribute towards carving a unique identity for your brand. So, if you haven’t given a thought to your brand's tone of voice yet, maybe it’s time you did. Your brand’s identity is not just seen - it's heard through the words you choose, the messages you convey, and the tone in which you communicate.

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Oct 12, 2023
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