Brand voice is the personality of a business, which it uses to communicate with its target audience across all available platforms. Brands should carry a unified approach to tone and style, as they’re the building blocks to brand recognition that allow a brand to nurture a connection to the target audience.
Individual brands have different types of tones in writing and make themselves stand out from others by the flow of words, language, and personality to create a memorable experience for their customers.
You need to think about how you’re perceived as a brand online. If your brand was a person, consider what personality traits they would have and what they would avoid. Consider phrases and word choices that your brand might use.
Once you establish a well-crafted voice and begin to stand out with visual content, logo, or product and features, consumers will be more drawn to your brand.
Why is tone of voice important?
The tone of voice of a brand is incredibly important, as the words and images used are the foundation of how customers view your brand. Not only do tone and images create a reputation for yourself, but they also can create trust between you and your customers.
When thinking about crafting a personality for your brand, you need to think of how your brand should speak to others.
What are you trying to tell them? Are you aiming to motivate, inspire, or entertain? When choosing your tone of voice, these questions will help you to cut through your competition, build your brand and authority, and re-create face-to-face communications.
Keeping up with the competition
Competition is always a factor when it comes to any brand or business. Sometimes brands can fall into the trap of copying the tone of voice someone else in the industry uses, whether intentionally or not. However, the key priority should be to think outside the box and be creative so you stand out from other brands and become more memorable to consumers.
Even if customers don’t need your brand or product right now, a lasting impression will allow potential customers to remember you later, especially when you stand out from the crowd.
Build brand identity and authority
Once you establish a foundation with your tone and branding, you must continue building your brand identity and creating a memorable identity. Creating something memorable your customers can resonate with is key and can be enforced with the consistency of branding, including regularly used colours, images, and language.
Once you have built your brand identity and authority, a customer can instantly recognize you and what you stand for based on a simple logo or line of content, and you’d become more than just a name or symbol.
For example, the Barbie franchise has been around for years, yet even in 2023, Barbie is highly recognizable. They have spent years building identity and authority and are now taking advantage of this with incredibly clever marketing. The latest campaign for the upcoming Barbie movie is a bright pink billboard with a short snippet of text in a specific format, which we as the audience instantly associate with Barbie. This shows the power of establishing a brand identity through colour and symbols.
Brand voice vs tone of voice: What’s the difference?
Brand voice and tone of voice are slightly different. Although they can sound very similar, it helps to know the difference between them to ensure success within your brand.
Brand voice is the brand’s unique perspective and values that the brand stands for. This creates your brand personality.
Tone of voice is how a brand communicates and interacts with its audience. Within your tone of voice, you need to consider word choice, communication style, and emotional tone, which can be adapted based on what is appropriate for the situation.
This applies to all brands, and your brand voice will appear in everything you send to your audience, including emails, social media posts, and messages.
Define your core values
Core values and how they are defined are incredibly important for any company, as they show what makes a brand unique and what it stands for. Once clarified for your own brand, it creates expectations for your employees and customers and enhances their knowledge of your brand and what you stand for.
To define your initial core values, you need to confirm two things:
- Mission statement
- Brand message architecture
What is a mission statement
A mission statement is a simple statement that outlines a brand’s goals, values, and objectives within an organization. It also helps a company respond to change and make decisions that better align with its overall vision.
When thinking about your brand mission statement, it needs to show your users who you are, what you are about, and the things your brand does to achieve its initial goals.
Your mission statement should clarify the following questions:
- What are your company goals?
- How do you plan to achieve your goals?
- Who is the target audience?
- What do you want your company to be known for?
Google’s mission statement is to “organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful”. This statement is used as a basis for its strategic choices. Since the beginning, Google has focused on developing its algorithms to maximize effectiveness in organizing online information.
Google wasn’t the world’s first search engine, but it is now the dominating one thanks to having a clearer purpose than its competitor search engines.
Google continues to focus on ensuring people have access to the information they need, which is made clear through their chosen language and direct tone of voice.
Message architecture is a brand’s communication goals, which typically includes a list of terms, phrases, and statements. This phrases can include those with a ‘friendly and playful’ or ‘professional and authoritative’ message intent.
The best way to create your message architecture is to compile a list of adjectives to describe your industry and unique brand and sort them into groups that explain:
- who you are
- who you want to be
- who you are not.
When you have comnpiled the adjectives, focus on the words listed in the ‘who we want to be’ option and organise them based on your main priorities.
Know your audience
Your audience expects your brand to understand their needs and expectations, which you can demonstrate through your brand voice. However, to do this effectively and to choose the right tone of voice for your brand, you need to have a good understanding of who your audience is.
A great way to get to know your audience is to find out what social media platforms they use. Go directly to the source, whether Reddit, Instagram, Tiktok, Facebook, or another appropriate social platform to find out what your prospective audience are interested in and how they engage with similar brands.
When you do this, take some time out to research and take notes. What positive things are people saying about you online? Are there any negatives? What trends are your audience engaging with in other places, and how can you use those trends to adapt your brand tone of voice? Once you know this information, you can plan your social content and adapt your specific style.
If your brand is new, you may not obtain many results from exploring your own, so try exploring your competitor’s socials. This is a fantastic way to get to know your target audience and can reveal opportunities you didn’t realise existed.
Explore how your audience communicates with each other
Once you have discovered which social media site your audience uses the most, you can use this information to your advantage and take a deep dive into how they communicate online with each other.
By reviewing and understanding the language of your audience, you can create relatable content that, when done right, can lead to an increase in sales. If you’re unsure of where to start with your observations, ask yourself some of these questions:
- Do they use emojis?
- What kind of slang do they use?
- Is there anything they particularly like or dislike about your brand?
- Do they speak in full sentences or casual abbreviations?
It’s also a great idea to ask the same questions to your competitor sites. Learn from their successes and mistake to help you narrow down what may work for you and your audience.
Brand tone of voice
Brand tone of voice will develop naturally once you determine the initial goals of your company. Once this is decided, you can craft a unique brand tone of voice and use more adjectives to achieve the tone you desire for your brand.
Finding your brand voice is a great way to connect with your audience, but there are several factors your need to consider to find your voice.
Formal vs casual
A formal tone of voice demonstrates confidence in what you do and can make your brand appear more authoritative over others. However, you must also consider the difficulty this carries. Using a formal tone can sometimes create a sense of being impersonal to the audience. You need to consider what industry space your brand falls within, how important formal language is for what you do, and how your specific audience would respond to a formal tone of voice.
In contrast, using conversational language creates a sense of brand personality and friendliness to consumers. However, using a too-casual tone in the wrong context is a thin line, as it can make you seem inexperienced or unprofessional. Assess what topics your brand will discuss online and whether it is relaxed enough to warrant a casual tone of voice. If your brand handles topics regarding medical procedures, for example, your audience might not appreciate or even respect such a casual approach to tone.
Funny vs serious
The decision between a funny or serious tone of voice is an exciting choice because, although being serious is often essential, being funny can also gravitate more customers in your direction.
When choosing between these two types of tone of voice, you need to remember that funny tones won’t fit all companies, and could potentially confuse or impact overall communication with your audience. Really assess what you do and what your audience are looking for from you so you can effectively define your personality through your brand tone of voice.
Respectful vs irreverent
You should always be respectful to your audience, but you also don’t want to over do it so much that it reads as pandering to your audience, as this may come across as disingenuous and patronising.
Using an irreverent tone can make your brand seem confident and fun. It’s typically reserved for specific brands that allow flexibility for creative language, such as makeup or fashion retailers. Avoid intimidating or offending your audience, and remember you want them to have a laugh and enjoy your brand instead of shying away from it.
How to implement a tone of voice
You may have now found your brand tone of voice, but how do you implement it successfully?
A great starting point is to set clear brand guidelines. Review them regularly to ensure it’s still aligned with your audience.
Your guidelines around tone of voice can be shared around your team and serve4 as the perfect example for what they should aim for when writing.
It’s very important to include examples of your tone of voice, detailing phrases and sentence structures your team should avoid and aim for. This will make it easier for your team to create content that meets your tone of voice goals and to achieve consistency across all your channels.
Your brand guidelines should include:
- brand core values
- mission statement
- message architecture
- vocabulary (words to use and avoid)
- grammar rules.
Once you’ve created a first draft of your style guide to define your tone of voice, you can share it across your company/brand to ensure consistency.
Remember your tone is voice is the primary key to connecting and engaging with your audience. Once you have established your unique tone of voice and know what it should look like, make sure you apply it to every piece of written content and marketing campaigns you create to ensure consistent branding across all platforms.
Don’t be afraid to get creative to make yourself stand out when writing your tone of voice guidelines. The key is to remain consistent and be uniform with your voice. By doing this, you can give your brand authority and popularity within your chosen niche and pave the way to define content.