More than ever, readers want to make an emotional connection with the brands they follow or give business to. They want to read content that speaks to them — not at them, and not past them.
The most beloved and longest-lasting companies tend to be those that understand this. They invest in building a consistent presence and personality that’s immediately recognizable across their entire marketing strategy.
When people think about brands, they often think about their visual identity. However, there’s another element that often gets overlooked: voice and tone.
What Exactly is the Difference Between Voice and Tone?
Voice: This describes your company’s personality. It’s consistent and unchanging.
Tone: The emotional inflection applied to your voice. It adjusts to what’s suitable for a particular piece or message.
While your voice remains consistent, tone may change according to the context of your messaging. For example, a social media post about a fun sale would have a more light-hearted tone than one breaking news about a company crisis.
Think of it like real life: You adjust your tone according to who you are talking to and what you are talking about, but your voice remains the same.
It will take some time to perfect your brand’s tone of voice, but using these strategies will help you take the first steps in building that recognizable brand identity.
Examples of brand tone of voice
Empowering and uplifting – Dove
Dove is a premier example of a brand that has cultivated a persona that emphasizes responsibility, has linked its name with the greater movement to empower consumers (especially women) and raise awareness of body positivity. You’ve likely seen the billboard and ad campaigns Dove launched with models of all colors and sizes, but supporting it all is a tone of voice that is soothing, inspirational, and friendly.
Friendly yet informative – LaCroix Sparkling Water
The beverage of hipsters and moms alike, LaCroix has skyrocketed to the forefront of online-savvy brands. LaCroix’s tone of voice is a lot like its product — bubbly; and that goes a long way in building personality and connecting with readers or social media followers.
Welcoming & Helpful – MailChimp
Email marketing can be complicated, but MailChimp’s voice reinforces its platform’s ease of use.
Clean, Simple & Confident – Apple
As the world’s most valuable company, almost no one pairs powerful products with a confident voice as well as Apple.
Tips to develop your brand tone of voice
While it helps to take your cue from these brands, in the end, your tone of voice has to be unique to your business. It may take some time to reach that point, but here are some basic tips to ensuring your tone of voice fits your brand, your needs, your message and your customers’ expectations:
Create a tone and voice style guide
Each organization should have a working set of standards for what the tone sounds like and how brand values are communicated.
Be consistent across channels
Customer reading your articles and then transitioning to a social media account should have the same experience in interacting with your brand, and tone of voice is central in creating that continuity.
Take a page from industry peers
What industry you operate in will have a lot of say in how your tone of voice is formulated. Mapping out your tone of voice could be improved by looking at what peers and competitors in your space have done.
This might either help you develop a tone along the same lines to connect with readers, or tell you a totally different approach to tone that could help you win over new customers.
Don't forget to Audit Your Current Content and Messaging
If you already have content or copy you’ve produced, it’s time to do a brief audit. Review your marketing assets, which may include the following:
Social media posts
Arm yourself with these tips, and you’re well on your way to creating some solid, vital brand messaging.
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Stay positive, stay productive, and most importantly, stay connected!