A brand’s tone of voice affects its choice and style of communication on a massive scale. Consider this — what would your favourite brands sound like without their unique voices?
Would Apple have reverence?
Would John Lewis stir up emotions?
Would Nike inspire?
The advertising landscape would look extremely different to what it is today. It’d be fifty shades of monotonous grey, appealing to no one and everyone at the same time.
Thankfully, the teams behind the brands we love — including those we work with — are well aware of how crowded their markets have become, and that their communications must stand out with more than just visuals and special offers. They know that visual content will only take their product or service so far; that written words are just as important and must truly connect with the values of their consumers to have any real impact and create an emotional connection with us, their audience.
To do this successfully, brands must pre-define the way they’ll speak to their audiences with a thoughtfully produced tone of voice document, crafted from quantifiable consumer research and used religiously when creating every form of marketing communication.
What is tone of voice?
Think of a brand’s voice as its personality, and think of tone as its mood. While the voice remains the same, the tone may change depending on the type of output.
Tone of voice should do a few things:
- Define brand’s uniqueness against competitors in the market.
- Help communicate the links between the brand’s values and those of its consumers.
- Allow a brand to communicate specifically to its individual audience. For example, the way a retailer that sells scuba diving gear talks to its audience might not be the same as how a catering provider communicates with its clients due to the vast differences in their products.
- Help each campaign to reach its objectives and KPIs by speaking to the targeted audience in the correct way.
How does tone of voice affect marketing communications?
Put simply, brands need to consider their tone of voice every single time new marketing collateral is created. No matter whether the communication is a brand awareness piece, or one with an explicit call to action, the brand’s voice and its tone will underpin the way the communication is worded to have the best possible commercial impact.
Let’s be honest — a brand’s tone of voice should connect with its consumer base to inspire them enough to make a purchase. Ultimately, we’re all trying to sell the products or services we provide in an appropriate way, and to do that effectively we must talk to our audiences in the way that appeals to their specific wants and needs.
What’s also important is that brands continually review how they can strike the right tone as the world evolves around us. We’ve certainly noticed a marked change in the way certain brands communicate since the pandemic began, with some leaning even further into their emotive and caring tones to connect on a deeper level to provide reassurance in challenging times. Think Lloyds Bank, Tesco, and Facebook.
Why create tone of voice guidelines?
An agency copywriter with experience and training may not be the only one writing for a brand, and there may come a time when in-house team members are expected to craft internal or public-facing copy. From the social media intern to the CMO, the creation of clear tone of voice guidelines means that anyone writing for the brand can:
- better understand and champion the brand’s mission and values and incorporate them into their writing
- adapt their written style to have a bigger impact on the end reader
- ensure a greater level of consistency through all communications.
Reconsidering the tone of voice periodically, or when brands go through an identity overhaul is essential to making sure all communications are staying consistent, relatable to the consumer, and — most importantly — effectively driving messages home. If you haven’t already, read our book review on Mish Slade’s ‘May I have Your Attention, Please?’ A great look at how to craft tone of voice and copy that “charms, captivates and converts.”
And don’t forget, Cracked can help with that!
If you’re thinking you need a fresh approach or complete overhaul of your brand identity and communication style — especially given the current situation — get in touch with Team Cracked for a coffee and a chat on how we can help give your copy and content a fresh look and feel.