• Tone of Voice
  • Branding

Your tone sets the tone

23.02.2024

  • Tone of Voice
  • Branding

Tone of Voice is one of the elements that makes up your brand’s identity. Perhaps not as tangibly as logos, colour pallettes and type faces but TOV has enormous power to influence your consumers’ minds. Doesn’t this mean that companies should give a lot more attention to how they say what they say?

Emotional connection: the holy grail

A brand that speaks consistently across its touchpoints not only reinforces its personality it builds trust – increasing revenue by up to 23%*. Consistency creates a solid factual base. Your words align with your values making your brand feel genuine and authentic. Customers know what to expect from your brand, they feel reassured and an emotional connection is formed – the holy grail – resulting in brand loyalty. A survey by Deloitte found that 60% of loyal customers were willing to refer their preferred brands to others. Nothing could be more magnetic for your brand than having your consumers spread your words.

The beauty of an inclusive voice

Brands can’t afford to be out of step with their clients or their customers or their employees for that matter. (If you’ve identified this as a concern, let’s talk through how we can change that.) ‘Brand/customer together’ cues an inclusive voice – without being too over familiar. (Just to say, we don’t believe in brands being your friends. Warm yes but matey no.) Absolutely, see the world through your clients’ eyes, write from a position of insight, but also use judgement and your knowledge of your client’s business and the people in it to define the appropriate TOV. One overarching rule we have is to stay clear of being authoritarian. Be an authority on what you do, for sure. Your clients want your guidance and know how, but expertise delivered in an imperative voice – do this, do that – or an elite generalising way, will alienate. As mentioned earlier, connection is achieved when you write with an inclusive voice: peer to peer, we, you, us. We had a client that referred to their clients as ‘individuals’– we explained the distancing tonal affect this had on their website.

Engage don’t slam dunk

Literalism in language erodes the emotional connection you’ve spent time and money building up. Where a brand takes full control over the reaction or experience that the customer or client is supposed to have – attempting a complete description and explanation and leaving no ‘smile in the mind’. We like to leave room for audiences to construct their own experiences and use words as a launch pad for their own imagination. Empowering audiences to form their own emotional connections with you calls for brands to be brave and creative with TOV. (And use writers with conceptual ability.) Examples that quickly come to mind: Innocent, Mailchimp, Oatly, Monzo, Dove, Octopus energy, Spotify, Apple… consistency is essential, as we’ve described, but a distinct tone engages and becomes the audible signature of a brand.

How do you figure out your tone of voice?

Your brand doesn’t have to speak to everyone – just those you have a real connection with – who understand your purpose and support your values. How you speak is informed by your brand purpose; there should be a direct correlation between your vision and values and the tone of your written communications. Branding agencies, like us, write Tone of Voice characteristics to guide you and anyone else working with your brand. This can take the form of a Brand Voice Chart (we prefer not to use those as they can be formulaic). Let’s not make a mistake – TOV does not come from guidelines. It can have a home within a beautifully crafted bible but voice characteristics (and charts) are empty and meaningless without the language examples/exploration bringing the brand idea to life. You need the practice to explain the theory. It’s also exciting, we think, to see your brand personality in action. Talking to you.

Few last words…

Do

  • Be clear what your personality is. Are you playful or serious, concise or poetic, direct or unassuming? Your personality will dictate the way you act, speak and write.
  • Ask yourself a simple question: does your identity come out through your words?
  • Get in touch if your words aren’t aligning with your values or you want to find your voice.

Don’t

  • Copy another brand’s tone. You don’t need to sound like Monzo, you need to sound like you.

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    • Brand Strategy
    • Tone of Voice

    Creatures of habit: How do you keep things consistent?

    12.04.2020

    • Brand Strategy
    • Tone of Voice

    Indulge us for a second. If we asked you to think about some popular brands, what comes to mind? A big tick? Some golden arches? Or maybe a Santa Claus driving a train? But what do they have in common? Simply put, they present a coherent message to their customers. This includes everything they do from design and words, through to product development.

    How do they do it? And what’s the secret to unlocking this potential?

    Source: Pxfuel

    Building brand consistency

    Nowadays it’s not just all about the price. Purchasing is often more of an emotional experience than a practical one. A Target audiences trust their favourite brands and return to them again and again. They know what to expect and they reward that with loyalty.

    Your most valuable business asset is your brand – but we’re guessing you already know that since you’ve landed here (and we’re happy you have!). The question is how do you capitalise on it? Developing an understanding of your organisation’s vision and values is the first step. You can then focus on building clear brand guidelines. In turn, this gives your team the tools they need to create a clear identity and deliver your core message. Again and again and again…

    But why is this so important? What’s the value to the business?

    It’s all about the familiarity

    By developing your brand presence and making sure people know what to expect from you, you’ll be able to turn random consumers into regular shoppers. And engage them. And retain them. You’ll be able to build relationships with both existing and potential customers. Then they’ll start to identify with your brand and enjoy the experience.

    The Swoosh

    Consider Nike. Their loyal customers know what to expect when they hear the name, see the advertising or just spot the Nike logo. Their brand is embedded in everything they do. So, Nike can retain their status as the leading – and most recognised – global sports brand. They just do it.

    Want to share some of the glory? Great. Time for the hard work.

    In order to create and present a cohesive brand to an audience, a certain amount of rigour has to be applied behind the scenes. Here’s the practical bit.

    Get some decent brand guidelines under your belt

    We’re not talking any old guidelines – they need to be pretty robust so that everyone who reads them can understand the brand. Why it’s this colour and not that, how to use the logo (and how not to) and even the different tones your brand should adopt. They’re basically the Holy Grail of your brand. Brand guidelines are the foundation of brand consistency standards. They ensure that all communications are on-point and consistent. They’re the rules. They guarantee that regardless of the format or touchpoint, anyone engaging with the brand will enjoy the same experience.

    Pure Brand Guidelines

    It’s all about the detail, baby

    The guidelines are core to the way the company presents itself – being flexible enough to allow for creativity but prescriptive enough to keep your brand recognisable. Here are five tools you can add to your armoury:

    • Look and feel including logos, design elements and a colour palette
    • Tone of voice and editorial guidelines
    • Image style and photo library
    • Templates
    • Social media guidelines

    What benefits will brand guidelines bring to the business?

    Consumers trust the brand they know. Creating a brand with personality goes a long way to developing and cementing that vital relationship between brands and their customers.

    The truth is, we’re all creatures of habit

    We’re reassured by consistency and knowing what to expect (however adventurous we like to think we are). McDonalds are a good example of a leading global brand which embraces the benefits that this behaviour can bring. Customers know what to expect from McDonald’s wherever they are in the world. Their branding and products are consistent across the globe.

    On the flip side, less successful brands can alienate their potential customers. They’re inconsistent. They’re unpredictable. They send out mixed signals. So, as consumers, we don’t remember them.

    Keen to distinguish yourself from the herd?

    It’s time to create a compelling and impactful brand to ensure that today’s customers know what to expect. Steal a march on your competitors. By creating consistency throughout your brand you’re giving your customers what they want and they’ll be back. It allows you to build a stronger identity. It ensures you deliver a more cohesive message. It builds on the trust of your target audience. Time to dig a little deeper. How you can help your customers build a relationship with your brand?

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