• 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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