What is tone of voice?

Tone of voice isn’t what you say, it’s how you say it. It embodies your brand’s personality and while your brand ethos and values remain the same, you can flex your tone of voice depending on the platform and the key audience you’re trying to engage with. Just think about a scenario in your own life where this might happen, for example, the way you speak to your best friend and the language you use is probably going to be a bit different to the way you speak to your bank manager. Your brand’s tone of voice works in a similar way. While your main voice should remain consistent (so the audience knows it's you who’s speaking) it might flex in different situations (a press release being sent to journalists may be slightly different to a short and snappy tweet you’re sending out).


Why do you need a tone of voice?

Defining your tone of voice is a crucial part of building brand loyalty. A distinctive voice can help you to stand out from the competition and it can inspire your audience. It also leads to better engagement because a consistent tone of voice makes your brand instantly recognisable and builds trust.


How do you develop a brand tone of voice?

We regularly work with clients to help them discover their tone of voice. We run brand workshops and ask lots of questions that help us get underneath the skin of a brand’s personality and really understand the language we need to be using to boost engagement. If you’re trying to discover your unique voice here are a few tips to get you started:


Gather as many people together as possible to host an internal tone of voice workshop. It’s always good to have a variety of people in the room so try and invite different stakeholders from different departments. This will not only add fresh ideas but it will help you to align everyone’s vision of how your brand should sound.


Have plenty of pens and paper at the ready and be prepared to use lots of post-it notes. It’s worth having some strong coffee on standby too (or is that just us?).


Start outlining what you believe your brand stands for. What are your core values? What are your brand beliefs? Try to keep this concise (three points or less).


Ask your colleagues to think of buzzwords that describe your brand’s personality. Is it playful? Is it conservative? Is it adventurous? This will help you to define your brand personality, which will influence the language you use.


Talk through key topics that come up, discuss any industry jargon you might need to use and decide how you want to represent these in your tone of voice. You can then create guidelines for everyone to follow, which will really help to keep consistency across channels.


Consider the buzzwords from earlier and how you can use the written word to demonstrate your brand personality. How will you address your customers? Are they ‘friends’, ‘mates’ or ‘fans’? Get this down on paper. 


Consider all of the channels you use to communicate. Whether it’s social media, your website, email marketing or physical communication, you need to consider how your tone of voice will work across all of the platforms and how it might flex.


There’s so much more we could cover, but hopefully this gives you a good starting point. If you’re trying to increase engagement and build a following then it’s definitely worth taking the time to consider your brand tone of voice and how you’re going to communicate with your customers.